A HEARTS fanatic has been laid to rest at a football-themed funeral which saw hymns replaced by football chants.
Edinburgh-born Gary York, who died of motor neurone disease in New Zealand last week aged 53, organised the funeral at which mourners sang the club’s anthem, with a match programme replacing an order of service.
Family and friends wore football tops to the 90-minute service which ended with a final whistle.
The service was broadcast to family 12,000 miles away in Scotland online.
Gary’s ashes will be returned to Edinburgh next month and Hearts have given special permission for them to be scattered on the pitch at Tynecastle.
The toolmaker, from Broomhouse, emigrated to New Zealand in 1973. His widow, Iris, 50, pictured below with Gary, is now caring for the couple’s daughters, Courtney, 15 and Samantha, 17. She said: “Gary was a life-long Hearts fan and arranged his funeral himself. The whole service was like a football game.
“We had whistles, everyone wore Hearts tops and he had a Hearts-coloured coffin, Hearts flags – everything was Hearts, he put it all together.”
The video of the service, in Auckland, shows guests arriving in Hearts tops, maroon flowers on Gary’s coffin, and a screen with pictures of famous Hearts newspaper articles projected on the wall.
His daughters placed cuddly toys in Hearts strips beside his coffin and guests belted out The Hearts Song. The service ended with a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Iris said it was “fitting” that Gary’s ashes will be scattered at Tynecastle on May 18 – a year to the day since he travelled to see his team beat Hibs in the Scottish Cup final.
She said: “Gary passed away last Monday and his ashes will be scattered a year to the day that he visited Tynecastle. It was a big trip so it is fitting.
“It was Gary’s wish to have his ashes scattered at Tynecastle. He loved Hearts his entire life, his funeral really was a celebration of his life, and Gary wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Last year, the News reported how Gary, who was confined to a wheelchair by motor neurone disease, spent two days and thousands of pounds flying to Scotland for Hearts’ cup clash with Hibs.
It was his first visit to Tynecastle in 39 years.
Gary, who had not seen his team play since he was 13, described the experience as a “dream come true”.
He was diagnosed with MND in 2009 and given one to five years to live.
Staff at the stadium organised for Gary, Iris and three brothers to visit the ground. At the time he said it was a bitter-sweet visit, admitting it was “very doubtful” he would be back.
Brothers Dale and Jim, from Bo’ness, will travel from New Zealand with his ashes at the end of April.