FOOTBALL fans from across the country flocked to Prudhoe to remember a stalwart of the game.

Tributes were paid to former Crystal Palace goalkeeper William (Billy) Callender on the 90th anniversary of his death in a ceremony in the town's Old Edgewell Cemetry.

West Wylam-born Billy took his own life after the death of his fiancee Ella Margaret Leslie to polio.

Billy was raised in Mickley and his early footballing career saw him turn out for local teams Wylam Methodist Chuch and Prudhoe Castle FC.

He was soon scouted by Crystal Palace and was signed by the London club where he was to play for nine years, making some 225 appearances and becoming a club legend and firm favourite with fans.

After Ella died, Billy went to the Crystal Palace football ground and took his own life aged 29.

The event, held last weekend, was organised by David Jemison, on behalf of the Crystal Palace Supporters Club, and David travelled from his home in Belfast to join a host of the South London team's fans - many of whom had travelled some distance to attend.

One committed supporter, however, who didn’t have to travel far was Keith Wilkin, a Prudhoe resident for over 40 years, who was born and raised in Lewisham, South London, and attended his first Crystal Palace game as a seven-year-old.

The up-and-coming footballing stars of the future were represented by members of the Prudhoe Youth Club FC who turned out in their club’s colours as Rebecca Hyman and Hannah Chaters, both of whom have been signed up by the Sunderland Ladies AFC Academy, laid a wreath on Billy's restored grave on behalf of the club.

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of Crystal Palace supporters and the Prudhoe Town Council. Local historians also paid tribute.