A PACKED church provided a fitting tribute as hundreds celebrated the life of Oxford United legend John Shuker.

Many attending the funeral at St Mary’s Church, Bampton, wore yellow today in recognition of his distinguished career at the club.

The congregation included several of his former teammates, but other areas of his life were also represented.

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In recognition of his 18 years as a retained firefighter, members from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service provided a guard of honour for Mr Shuker, who died last month aged 77.

During his four decades in the village he also joined Bampton Traditional Morris Men, who performed at the end of the service.

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Toby Perry and Simon Chatterton of Bampton Traditional Morris.

They wore yellow and blue ribbons as a nod to Mr Shuker’s football career.

Peter Rhoades-Brown paid tribute on behalf of United, where the versatile player made 534 appearances, 478 of which were in the Football League – a total which may never be challenged at the club.

He said: “We are here not only to celebrate his life but also to honour his amazing career.

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“His record for Oxford United will never be beaten.

“Loyalty like his doesn’t exist any more in football.

“On behalf of everyone at the club thank you for your loyalty, your service and your memories.”

More than a dozen of his former teammates were in the crowd, including Ken Skeen, Dave Roberts, Hugh Curran, Dick Lucas and Colin Harrington.

John Cannon, who had known Mr Shuker for more than half a century, said: “Whenever things got tricky he took it in his stride, he was a people person.

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Former U’s teammates (from left): Mick Tait, Malcolm McIntosh, Paul Berry and Peter Foley.

“To me he was a great friend who I will miss greatly. He would light up a room.

“I’m so grateful to have been his friend and to have shared so many happy times with him.”

Tommy Tanner was among the close circle friends Mr Shuker and his wife Lynn had made in Bampton.

“Shuke was a one-off,” he said.

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Three other Oxford United legends among the congregation (from left): Hugh Curran, Roy Burton and Dave Roberts. Picture: Stuart Harrison

“He had a wonderful sense of humour, he would help anyone out and would always have a smile on his face.

“I will miss him dearly, like everyone else.”

Mr Shuker was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2017 and his family have campaigned for action to be taken after research found a link between the disease and former professional footballers.

His three children – Becky, Johnny and Hannah – all gave heart-felt addresses.

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Becky said: “Every child deserves to have a hero. I was no different, but my hero sat at the dinner table with me.

“Dementia is cruel, but we were lucky.

“We never lost our dad, he always knew who we were. He fought his illnesses with incredible bravery and never lost his sense of humour.

“We were so lucky to have him as our dad and our children had the most wonderful grandad.”