England

Hundreds attend Terry Newton's funeral in Wigan

Terry Newton
Image caption Terry Newton represented Great Britain 15 times

Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects to rugby league star Terry Newton.

His cortege passed Wigan supporters outside the DW stadium as it made its way to Wigan Parish Church.

Players joined his widow, two daughters, family and friends to say farewell to the former Great Britain international.

The 31-year-old was found hanged at his home in the town after being banned from the sport for failing a drug test.

Fans with "Newton" emblazoned on their shirts were among the crowds who applauded as the funeral car drove past.

Pall bearers including former rugby league stars Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor and current England captain Adrian Morley.

About 600 mourners packed Wigan Parish Church including past and present greats of the game, Mr Newton's widow, Stacey, their two daughters - aged nine and seven - and his parents Val and Anthony.

The Reverend John Macaulay, leading the service, told mourners that Newton's life ended "prematurely and in tragic circumstances".

But the player had brought "his own vivid dash of colour and character" to all their lives, he added.

Brian Carney, a team-mate from their time at Wigan Warriors, read a letter on behalf of Newton's parents, Tony and Val.

"You were any parents' dream son, you became everything we wanted you to be, big, strong, tough, a fantastic sportsman."

Referring to the drugs ban, the letter continued: "When you told me what you had done I looked into your eyes and I knew you were truly sorry.

"We are sorry we could not get you through this."

'Soul mate'

Speaking on behalf of fans, players and friends, Mr Carney spoke of how they were "united in respect and sadness".

A letter from Mr Newton's wife, paying tribute to her "loving husband, best friend, soul mate" was then read out by a friend.

"I can't begin to describe how much I love you and always will. I've never ever loved anyone as much as you," said the letter.

A song called Amazed by the band Lonestar - the couple's wedding song - was played after the tributes.

After the service concluded, the coffin was carried from the church to the song Shout To The Top! by The Style Council, and was greeted by applause from fans outside.

The funeral was followed by a private burial.

During his career Mr Newton played for Wigan, Leeds and Bradford and represented Great Britain 15 times and England five times.

He was serving a two-year suspension after a positive test for a human growth hormone.

He was sacked by his club Wakefield when he tested positive for the banned substance in February.

A full inquest into his death will be held in December.

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