August 30, 2017
Big day in athletics today for a different reason.
Today Gerard ‘Ped’ Murray crossed the finish line for the very last time.
Adrian and I turned up at the crem in plenty of time yet still couldn’t get a space in the car park. When we proceeded to the crematorium building there was a queue already forming; most people had chosen to attend in traditional funeral wear despite the request for ‘black and White’ or club colours.
As the mourners proceeded towards the chapel, you could hear the Blaydon Races playing through the sound system, as we entered it was apparent how many had come to mourn this loss to his family and athletics. The chapel was full, and the foyer area was also rammed full. There were some club colours visible, as his former club Derwentside attended in large numbers, plus several from other clubs; I spotted Sunderland, South Shields and Aurora, as well as obviously a good turn out from Birtley.
The music choice was good, as the ceremony paused as we listened to Mark Knopfler’s Brothers in Arms. Very moving moody song with touching lyrics if you actually listened to the words. After the service another Knopfler tune, which summed the feller up beautifully. ‘Local Hero’. The number of people there today confirmed that.
So, we left the chapel, and were amazed to see, there was a canny crowd outside as well, I reckon there must have been over 250 people in attendance. It shows the measure of the man, who has been an ever present fixture on the athletics scene, when the top local athletics reporter, Bill McGuirk, was there to pay his respects.
I am sure this won’t be the last time we mention his name, there will be lots of memories shared over the harrier league season and more, lots of ‘do you remember…’
Bless you Ped we won’t forget you…
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