HE might have expected an 'average' turnout, but the gathering to say goodbye to George Thornton was so much more than that.

It was standing room only at Walton Lea Crematorium, and for many that meant outside the chapel, as the life of much-loved George was celebrated at his funeral.

Warrington Guardian:

The former Warrington Wolves and Warrington Borough Council photographer, who was chairman of the Warrington Players' Association, was well-known for his one-liners especially remarking 'average' after taking group photographs.

George, who played in the second-row of Wire's A team back in the 70s and joined Alex Murphy's backroom staff after retiring through injury, would have been amazed by his pulling power today.

He arrived at Walton Lea through a guard of honour set by the entire current Warrington Wolves playing and coaching staff, who had cycled to Walton Lea during the closing stages of their 36-hour Christmas community challenge.

They rubbed shoulders with some Wire greats of the past, including former Great Britain internationals Adrian Morley, Ken Kelly, Jon Clarke, Ronnie Duane and Mike Nicholas as respects were paid to a 74-year-old man who had clearly touched so many hearts.

George was carried into the chapel to Elbow's One Day Like This and his daughter Kerry was followed by several friends and colleagues in paying emotional and funny tributes to his life and work.

Each and every verse of the anthemic rugby league hymn Abide With Me was as uplifting as it was teary.

Some very big and tough men were seen welling up before the final goodbye music, Ed Sheeran's Perfect, started to play.

George's wife Diane, his family and friends all headed to The Halliwell Jones Stadium to continue paying respects and sharing tales of George, who loved nothing more than to tell a good story himself.

RIP George.

Warrington Guardian: