SPORTING anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was piped through St Helens Parish Church as mourners filed in for Dave Chisnall’s funeral on Thursday- and the large gathering of family, friends and former colleagues ensured there was no danger that the charismatic prop forward would ever have to ‘walk alone’ on his final journey.
Chissy, who died earlier this month at the age of 64, became one of the great characters of British rugby league during a playing career that spanned 1967-1985 which saw him have spells at Leigh, Warrington, Swinton, Saints, Barrow, Keighley and Mansfield, as well as playing for his country.
But the funeral to celebrate Dave’s full and rewarding life put the family man; the husband, brother, father and grandfather at the heart of the service rather than the sporting hero.
A moving tribute delivered by his close pal John McGinn, who recalled their friendship spanning 50 years going back to the days when Dave worked at Silcocks Fair and let him on the waltzers for free.
He said: “He had a really dry sense of humour and loved winding people up, especially his own children and grandchildren.
“There is so much I could say about Dave –we had some good times and some not so good. The last four years have been the hardest with the memory loss from the Alzheimers followed by the cancer, but Dave never moaned once.
“His two year battle against cancer is now over - a really great man who never blamed anyone, never complained and never gave in.
“He always talked about his family and how much he loved them so much. His favourite song was You’ll Never Walk Alone – and the last two years his rock and soulmate Carol and the family have been with him all the time.
“My mate Chis, we all love you so much and will miss everything about you, but you’ll never be forgotten. Bye mate.”
Moving messages were also read out on behalf of his grandchildren.
Rugby league had played such a big part of Chissy’s life as a player and coach and that was reflected by the congregation with past players from Warrington and St Helens in attendance.
Here we saw rugby friends and foe alike gather to pay their final salute; front row Wire colleagues Kevin Ashcroft and Bobby Wanbon mourning alongside old Widnes rival big Jim Mills.
Although Chissy had many clubs, he had a strong affinity with Warrington and that was reflected in the big turnout of past players and in the primrose and blue flowers.
Ex-Warrington players from the 70s and 80s, including Mike Nicholas, Ken Kelly, Tommy Martyn snr, Mike Peers, Roy Lester, Clive Jones, Tony Worrall, Carl Webb, Bob Eccles, Paul Cullen and Andy Gregory, stood side by side with Saints counterparts Roy Mathias, Ray French, Dennis Litherland and Chris Arkwright.
Billy Benyon, who played for and coached both clubs, was also present along with Alex Murphy, who signed Dave for a Leigh as a teenager and then took him to Warrington with him.
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus and general manager Mike Rush were present, along with Steve Leonard, Kel Coslett and past players secretary Geoff Pimblett.
On leaving the church, Dave’s coffin was given a guard of honour by several of his former Warrington teammates.