Bobby Charlton’s grandson melts hearts with stories of his beloved ‘grandad’ as the English legend is laid to rest

We remembered Sir Bobby Charlton, England’s greatest footballer.

Warmed by the stories about “Grandpa,” we left the hotel.

Sir Bobby Charlton pictured at Old Trafford in 1970


Sir Bobby Charlton pictured at Old Trafford in 1970Photo credit: Getty
Thousands lined the streets outside Old Trafford as the funeral procession passed


Thousands lined the streets outside Old Trafford as the funeral procession passedPhoto credit: Getty
Sir Bobby's widow Norma Ball and his family at the funeral of their beloved partner


Sir Bobby’s widow Norma Ball and his family at the funeral of their beloved partner
The order of service at Sir Bobby's funeral


The order of service at Sir Bobby’s funeralPhoto credit: Splash

grandson Wilhelm Balderston spoke so eloquently in Manchester Cathedral as we said goodbye to a football legend and a family said goodbye to someone much more.

He conjured a smile of sadness as he told the story of Grandpa smiling at the bottom of a snowy hill in Manchester.

Now it was his turn to pick up the sled and race back to the top of the hill.

He would race shrinking back from the joy of having fun with it.


What’s more, the grandchildren could hardly contain their excitement as they walked into the warmth of Grandfather’s house.

Now it was time for stories. “Jelly and Custard Stories” – two characters he created in his own head.

William, now 22, and his sister jumped on Grandpa’s knee as he dreamed up stories that would last forever and captivate them.

“He always seemed really excited to put a smile on our faces,” William said.

There were the hot breakfasts he enjoyed making and his athleticism as he dived into the pool family holiday.

We can’t all relate to being a great footballer, but we can relate to what William had to say about his grandad when the stories were flying around the cathedral.

Maybe it was Sir Bobby Charlton, but it was the simple things, things we can all do or experience, that William wanted us to know about.

Since his death over three weeks ago, praise for his ability on the ball has been piling up.

The statistics have been republished and mentioned here again by former Manchester United managing director David Gill in his eulogy.

Gill, a stiff-lipped man, couldn’t stop his voice from breaking when he mentioned the Munich air disaster that Sir Bobby had survived.

John Shiels, head of the Manchester United Foundation, also wavered when speaking about his long-time friend.

Not someone who had won a European Cup, a World Cup and three league titles, but someone who used his ability with the ball to break barriers.

To get everyone excited about the sport.

To open a Charity is committed to eradicating the evil of landmines in the world.

But also from a man who was 1:5 behind in doubles tennis against him and his partner, but refused to give in and won 7:5.

So the 1,000 guests listened and smiled at a great man.

There were terrible winds as a storm hit. It sounds cliché, but the sun actually shone through the upper windows of this 15th-century building while hymns played.

The words spoken so eloquently did the man so much justice. When Russell Watson belted out “How Great Thou Art.”

There are many experiences I have had covering Manchester United over the course of almost a quarter of a century that give one an appreciation for the size and stature of this club.

That was something different. This was a class for a class.

A farewell that brought the great and good things that the boy from the city brought to the center of the city Mining The town of Ashington has made its name and become famous all over the world.

At one point during his eulogy, Shiels picked up a soccer ball.

Sir Bobby once said: “Football is the only game that needed to be invented because of its appeal and its ability to touch every corner of humanity.”

Prince William attended the service at Manchester Cathedral


Prince William attended the service at Manchester CathedralPhoto credit: Alamy
Sir Alex Ferguson among the mourners at Sir Bobby's funeral this afternoon


Sir Alex Ferguson among the mourners at Sir Bobby’s funeral this afternoonPhoto credit: PA
England manager Gareth Southgate arrives at Sir Bobby's funeral today


England manager Gareth Southgate arrives at Sir Bobby’s funeral todayPhoto credit: EPA

Thank God the world had someone like Sir Bobby Charlton to play it too. But as Shiels told us from the podium, Sir Bobby wanted everyone to have fun.

He recalled: “When we asked him what he wanted from every child who attended a Bobby Charlton football school, he replied: ‘I want every day to be like that.’ Christmas Day.'”

Isn’t it sad that it takes death and funerals to truly learn about the core of a person? What he really meant on a human level.

We were gathered among the football royalty to hear it, and among those we didn’t know but whose hearts he touched.

Teammates from his past, legends from more recent times like the brilliant Roy Keane.

Sir Alex Ferguson was there himself; it was a difficult time for him as he recently lost his beloved wife Cathy. Now he said goodbye to a dear friend.

Everywhere you looked as the community gathered there were double takes.

But the sight of his old teammates from the incredible European Cup final of 1968 touched me.

Brian Kidd still looks like the young player who played against Benfica at Wembley.

John Aston Jr. was man of the match that night; he walked with a cane.

People just get old. The problem is that you just don’t expect that from your heroes. They don’t expect to die.

We knew Sir Bobby wasn’t well. He died over three weeks ago at the age of 86. Since then there have been amazing tributes and ceremonies before two games at Old Trafford.

Every day people come to the Trinity statue to lay flowers that have grown into a carpet. Millions of words were expressed in print and in the media.

It all kept his spirit alive, it filled the void left by his death. It was almost as if he had been reborn as memories and images reawakened as if he was still with us.

But there comes a time when the lost really strikes, and this is the moment Burial.

He rode in a hearse past his beloved home in Old Trafford at 1.30pm, where fans gathered at the fabulous Trinity statue to say goodbye.

The statue of Sir Matt Busby looked down from a plinth halfway up the back of the East Stand as the cortege passed through a guard of honor made up of United’s U18 and U21 teams.

The fans lined the aisle up to the cathedral entrance.

There was a lot of chatting between old friends beforehand and the fans were lucky enough to be inside. It had the feeling of a nice get-together.

Then came the funeral procession.

The football anthem “Abide With Me” followed and the coffin decorated with white flowers was laid out in front of us. Widow Lady Norma looked on.

The funeral procession passed the United Trinity statue outside Old Trafford, where Sir Bobby is immortalized alongside his former team-mates Denis Law and George Best


The funeral procession passed the United Trinity statue outside Old Trafford, where Sir Bobby is immortalized alongside his former team-mates Denis Law and George BestPhoto credit: PA
Gary Lineker was among the football legends in attendance


Gary Lineker was among the football legends in attendancePhoto credit: Splash
United legend Ryan Giggs in front of Manchester Cathedral


United legend Ryan Giggs in front of Manchester CathedralPhoto credit: PA
Harry Maguire was among United's players currently in attendance


Harry Maguire was among United’s players currently in attendancePhoto credit: ©Karwai Tang

prince William watched. We all watched. You just stare at a coffin at a funeral and can’t imagine that someone who was so full of life was now dead and inside.

It wasn’t long, this was the last chance to say goodbye.

It was Sir Bobby who called Old Trafford The theatre of dreams. He brought those dreams to life and then watched even more come true from his seat in the director’s box.

“Wonderful,” he said as he punched the air high up at the Nou Camp with tears in his eyes as United won the treble in 1999.

All the images and memories will have passed through people’s minds as this ceremony continues. Then, as if brought back to reality, the coffin was lifted and carried away.

Farewell, Sir Bobby.

As darkness fell on a cold, stormy day, the half-masted flags at Old Trafford desperately tried to hold on to their poles.

Unfortunately, it was time to let go when a memorial service was held at the site where a stand was named in his honor.

There will be a private family celebration tomorrow.

The emptiness will really be felt now.

The memories of Grandpa on that sleigh might help fill those.

Legends from glorious years join the mourners

By Richard Moriarty

At Sir Bobby’s funeral, past and present RED Devils and royalty paid their last respects.

FA president Prince William, England coach Gareth Southgate and Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson led 1,000 mourners.

And when the funeral procession arrived outside Manchester Cathedral, the 1,000-strong crowd erupted in applause.

The crowd fell silent as the coffin was carried in, with Lady Norma, 83, leading the grieving family members.

Inside, 500 invited spectators from the crowd sat alongside United’s legends.

Brian Kidd, who scored alongside Sir Bobby in the 1968 European Cup final, was there along with Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Peter Schmeichel, Michael Carrick, Bryan Robson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

They were joined by Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Brian McClair. The current squad consisted of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Jonny Evans and Tom Heaton. Man City and Liverpool also sent a contingent.
Gary Lineker, host of the day’s match, also paid his respects to Sir Bobby.

Olly Dawes

Olly Dawes is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Olly Dawes joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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