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Sir Doug Ellis: Aston Villa fans say goodbye to former chairman - PICTURES and VIDEO

By Luke Hatfield | Birmingham | Football | Published:

Aston Villa fans have paid their respects to Sir Doug Ellis today as the former club chairman's funeral took place.

Ellis - one of the most important figures in Midlands football over the past 50 years - had two spells as the club's chairman, the second of which lasted from 1982 until 2006, he sadly passed away in October aged 94.

His funeral took place today at Aston Parish Church at 11am, just a short walk from Villa Park. The service was for invited guests and family only.

The funeral procession passed by the stadium ahead of the service, giving fans a chance to say their goodbyes.

Fans lined the route of the funeral cortege, which drove around the stadium and down Witton Lane past the Sir Doug Ellis Stand, before heading on to the private ceremony.

Well-wishers gathered outside the church as the cortege, donning an Aston Villa flag, arrived.

WATCH: Ian Taylor pays tribute to Sir Doug Ellis:

Doug Ellis funeral: Ian Taylor pays tribute

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Former England captain Bryan Robson, who started his career at West Brom before moving to Manchester United and would later return to The Hawthorns as manager, was among those to attend the service.

As part of the Order of Service, former Villa director Tony Hales and broadcaster Nick Owen both paid tribute to Ellis, as did David Dein, former vice-chairman at both Arsenal and of the Football Association.

The club asked fans to gather in a designated area near to the North Stand by the Villa store and ticket office if they wished to pay tribute to the former owner.

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A former travel agent who had a spell on the board of Birmingham City, Ellis first took charge at Villa Park in 1968, guiding the club through one of the toughest periods in their history which included two seasons in the Third Division.

Ellis left in 1975 but returned in 1982, having briefly served on the board of Wolves as a director. He remained at the helm until he sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006.

Villa won the League Cup in both 1994 and 1996 and finished second in the inaugural 1992/93 Premier League season.

After selling up to Lerner in 2006, Ellis was named Villa's President Emeritus and remained a regular attendee at matches.

He was knighted in 2012 for charitable services, having donated millions of pounds to charity.

His death was announced just hours after the club appointed Dean Smith as head coach alongside John Terry.

Countless tributes poured in for Sir Doug, who made a lasting impact in the Midlands - despite splitting opinion among fans on a regular basis.

Villa hero Brian Little also gave a heartfelt tribute to the former club chairman, saying: "We thought he was indestructible".

A minute's silence was held ahead of Villa's Championship win over Swansea in the days following the announcement, with all the players wearing black armbands in memory of the former owner.

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield
Digital Sports Journalist - @LHatfield_Star

Sports Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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