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Islington Tribune - EXCLUSIVE by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 19 October 2007
Dainton Connell, ‘a genuinely nice man
Dainton Connell, ‘a genuinely nice man’
Thousands pay tribute to The Bear

MORE than 2,000 Arsenal supporters stopped the traffic in one of the borough's busiest roads on Friday morning as friends and relatives of terrace leader Dainton Connell joined a massive funeral procession.
Mr Connell, 46, a father-of two widely known as The Bear, died two weeks ago in a car crash in Moscow. He was famous among football fans throughout north London for his dedication the club, travelling to matches home and away. Friends said he had mellowed since the height of football hooliganism in the late 1970s and early 80s when he was revered as the head of a 'firm' known as The Gooners which got involved in scraps with rival fans. They suggested he had made a positive impact on steering young fans away from joining right-wing hate gangs.
Among the crowd on Friday were some former Arsenal players and celebrity faces. They included retired ex-Gunners Ian Wright and Lee Dixon, both now pundits for Match of the Day. Broadcaster and journalist Janet Street-Porter, comics David Walliams and Matt Lucas, boxer Frank Bruno and the Pet Shop Boys' Chris Lowe.
Mr Connell, who worked as a security guard for the Pet Shop Boys for more than 20 years,
Inside, the chapel at Mary Magdalene Church in Holloway Road, there were tears, cheers and the occasional phwoooooaarr (the booming noise that Mr Connell used to make on the terraces).
There was a private family service later in the day and a reception at Alexandra Palace.
During the service – which at least 1,000 listened to on speakers outside the church because the chapel was full to capacity – his daughter Tiffany read out a tribute posted on the internet.
She said: “Today’s football is the football of celebrity and the celebrity is the player and manager. While the press pack munched on their complimentary snacks before taking their complimentary seats outside they missed the human story of the week. Grown men gathered dressed in black to say farewell to one of their own. Their leader. The Bear. For 25 years or so these lads grew up together, laughed together and fought outsiders for the Arsenal. Whatever the arguments about hooliganism, when the media have always been quick to stereotype yet slow to get factual, the fact remains for people of a certain generation, mine included, Denton was a legend. For those gathered on the concourse surrounded by wreaths and teddy bears he was a mate.”

Click on names below to listen to funeral tributes by:
Tiffany Connell
Dan Miller

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Dainton's funeral, Matt Lucas and David Walliams Dainton's funeral, Pall Bearers carry Dainton's coffin
Dainton's funeral, Brandon Block Dainton's funeral, Mandy Connell, Dainton's wife
Dainton's funeral, Shovell M People Dainton's funeral, Frank Bruno
Dainton's funeral, friends at the shrine for Dainton, Emirates Stadium Dainton's funeral, shrine in front of the Emirates Stadium
Dainton's funeral, Ian Wright joins morners Dainton's funeral, Tiffany Connell Dainton's daughter
Dainton's funeral, Ian Wright waits for the service to begin Dainton's funeral, Thousands walk down Holloway Rd
Dainton's funeral, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright Dainton's funeral, The scene outside the Emirates Stadium
Dainton's funeral, Friend with Floral D wreath Dainton's funeral, The funeral cortege
Dainton's funeral, Pallbearers with Dainton's coffin Dainton's funeral, more floral tributes
Dainton's funeral, Janet Street Porter Dainton's funeral, crowd of mourners
Dainton's funeral, Dainton's brother Dainton's funeral, morners outside the Church
Dainton's funeral, morners on way to church Dainton's funeral, morners leave the service
Dainton's funeral, Arsenal crest in flowers Dainton's funeral, Dainton's wife outside church
Dainton's funeral, Chas Smash from Madness  

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Your Comments:

Wonderful article. From 12 I knew his name. At 38, at my best friends funernal, I finally met D - The big cuddly Bear. His kind words, a huge hug, magical company & sincerity I shall never forget. Respect to Dan for his speach I listend to via the link - A very tough job I only know too well - well done mate. Deepest Condolances to D's family and so very many who loved him. Matthew
Matty Down Under

To two generations of football fans the Bear is an icon whose loss overshadows that of the Coles,Vieiras or Henrys.
Johnny Egan

As Arsenal as Herbert Chapman. A true gooner before it was fashionable. The term 'larger than life' was never more relevant. Thanks for over 30 years of memories, and the help you offered me all those years ago. Never forgot it mate. See you on the other side. R.I.P. 'D'. EIE.
Ralph X

When i first met Denton I think i was about 15 years old. He was our leader, a friend, a legend. You will be missed mate. Rest in peace brother.


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