THE FINAL GOODBYE
At 9.30am on
Wednesday 28th February 2007 I arrived at Camelot to discover the
castle packed to the rafters with mourners and more still coming
in every second. They filled Dave's to the brim and spilled out of
the door, into the front garden and packed the spacious driveway.
I found Dave in unusually low
sprits just playing pool with friends quietly and not laughing and
joking as he always is. But being as hospitable as ever he had
laid on food and drink for everyone before we left.
At around 10.00am coaches
arrived to take us all to the services, with the exception of Dave
who had chosen to take a ride in a friends car preferring the
quieter atmosphere for a change.
to get on the buses
Whilst on the coach "Mouth Of
The South" Lady J played mother by instructing us of the journeys
progress and ensuring that toilet breaks where kept to a minimum.
I also started chatting to documentary film maker Danny who had
decided to film the event for Dave as well as you all here at
davecourtney.com (coming soon).
When we arrived at what
would be the start of the funeral procession, the Road which Joey
had called home, I was stunned to see the sea of black made up of
the funeral cars that filled the curb sides and the thousands of
mourners who littered the street as
they stepped out of the 3 52 seater coaches and the fleet of
All of the funeral cars
Lines of mourners
Dave stood right at the back
of the lines of mourners, keeping a low profile and chatting,
hugging and shaking hands quietly to many of the guests.
for the procession to begin.
We waited for the funeral
procession to get underway for around 30 minutes and we watched
the police block off the road. Many mourners wanted to use the
bathroom but couldn't as local authorities had told all local pubs
and businesses to close so that mourners couldn't use the
When the funeral procession went underway It
was led by several members of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club on
pristine bikes, followed by 4 beautiful black horses dressed
in full regalia drawing a large and ornate glass sided
Victorian carriage which contained the coffin.
outlaws who lead the procession
The Horse and carriage
carriage carrying Joey
Next came 2 flower carrying funeral cars
decorated in a large Cesar's medallion and the words "MY PAL JOEY"
spelt out in flowers as well as many others. Behind those was 19
black official funeral cars, 2 privately rented limos and 157
private cars followed by around 300 walking mourners who made the
1 mile trip to the end of the road on foot.
Joey" in flowers
Medallion in flowers
Joe's favourite photograph
travelled with him in his carriage, Church and Chapel. Joe's
farewell gift from his friend and agent Lesley.
I made the trip on foot walking with
comedian, actor, ghost writer and after diner speaker
Sean Boru who talked to me about his latest project where he lived
with Lottery Winner Mickey Carroll.
At the end of the road we met up with our
relevant wheels and moved on to St Theresa's Church where the
first ceremony would take place. On this journey the local
residents left their homes to stand at the road side and watch
the procession go by as did the police who watched us all from
the central traffic Islands. As we approached a cross roads
the traffic lights let all the official funeral cars go
through before turning to red on the rest of us. 11 times the
rest of the 3 sections lights changed whilst we stayed on red
which did give us a chance to see 2 uniformed police officers
laughing and joking with two other men in mourning clothes who
later turned out to be plan clothed police officers who where
sent in to mingle with the rest of us later.
When we finally got to the
church we had missed the coffin being carried in by Roy Shaw,
Freddie Foreman, Jamie Foeman, Ronnie Fields, Charlie Richardson and V Dark. One man from each
corner of London.
The church was packed to over
flowing, so much so that the doors couldn't be closed and hoards
stood on the steps, squeezed together with there heads cocked
towards the open door to listen out for the singing of hymn
"Onward Christian Pilgrims", followed by the reading from "The
Book Of Wisdom" by Francesca, The Responsorial Psalm, the reading
by Raymond from "Romans", the gospel reading from Matthew, the
sound of Ave Maria as those inside took communion, the eulogy
given by Wilf Pine, the singing of "Jerusalem" and finally A Psalm
Those inside received the
order of service for the great Joey Pyle which featured the moving
words of his closest loved ones including Dave who said ;
"I'm not one for being stuck for something to
say but right this minute I'm fu*@!d."
"Joe told me that his dad wanted me to say
something at a funeral and I don't know where or how to start. The
genuine article "Joey Pyle" he was, and to go through his chosen
path of life meeting all the different and unique people he did
and not have even person think nothing else but respect,
admiration and love for him is an accolade that not many people
can have said about themselves. But he was truly blessed and
everybody that ever had the pleasure of meeting him will tell you
exactly that. A man amongst men and treated everybody the same. He
once told me that its the little wheels that make the big wheels
go round, and home true that is. He practised what he preached and
gave everyone the very best of him the he possibly could in every
situation. I speak on behalf of everyone when I say he will be
dearly missed and today's show of people to send him off proves
It also contained a very
moving poem by Joey Pyle Snr himself which read;
What we get in life is the way
But we make a life from what
Life's not so short that we
For we only live once and we
don't have a spare.
Try to ignore what life owes
And remember the debts that
you owe too.
For it's best to live life
poor and be healthy,
Than to live through sickness
the die wealthy.
Now when you judge others, be
sure to be wise,
Look first with your heart and
then with your eyes.
And stand by your morals and
reach for the heights,
As you win when you loose when
you stand by your rights.
Those mourners who couldn't fit into the church
stood outside staring in awe as they looked to the right of the
church at the massive 32 foot artic trailer piled high with
flowers of every shape and size and in shock as they looked to the
left to see police officers and riot vans.
The trailer carrying floral
We only moved on when we over heard 2 officers
asking a funeral director to point out all their cars so that they
could get all the rest of the cars owners charge with obstruction.
Mourners waiting outside the church
Police presents outside the
We then all packed ourselves back into our
vehicles as it started to rain and moved on to Sutton and Merton
Cemetery where the second service would be held. We started out
waiting in a small shelter just by the gate but as our numbers
grew we could no longer fit in there so we decided to brave the
rain and walk up to the chapel inside the cemetery.
As we all convened there it was amazing to see
the wide and diverse people in the crowed. Writers, film actors,
TV personalities, bikers, sports stars, singers, artists and firms
all huddled together 4 to an umbrella or under trees to brave the
freezing cold and harsh rains. Then to make matters worse it began
to hail down a mass of skin bruising hale stones. It was at that
point the chapel doors opened for us to take shelter, and it was
here that I finally found Dave seated and quite. You could tell in
his face that he was genuinely moved by the events of the day.
Dave sheltering from the hale
I asked him what he thought about today to which
"You wouldn't be able to fit in a book what I'd
like to say about him. He was a people's person. He took people
under his wing and connected people up - 99 per cent of the people
at the Krays funeral never even knew them but everyone here knew
As quickly as the hale started, it quickly faded
and people began to venture outside again. However, it did start
again briefly but only after some thunder and lightning and some
Mourners at the second ceremony
We all waited there for over an hour on those
cemetery steps and waited. At about 14.15 the weather improved and
people started to put down the umbrellas and mingle once more but
when the purr of a well tuned motorbike was heard in the distance
we knew that the procession was on its way back to us and all fell
Funeral Cars arriving at the
Sure enough lead in by one of the Outlaws the
procession crawled up the drive and the procession of 23 cars made
up of official funeral cars and privately rented limo filled the
entire driveway. When they came to a stop the rain started again
as a further 53 privately owned cars pulled up in two lines either
side of the funeral cars. Over 100 other cars littered the
After a short service almost 3000 mourners
braved the rain and strong winds to drudge across the wet grass to
the graveside to say there final goodbyes to the legend that will
always be Joey Pyle.
A car in
As there was so many mourners, 3 separate wakes
where held in Joeys honour including one at Dave's home.
JOEY PYLE SNR - FAREWELL TO A TRUE LEGEND.
Since yesterday, many of the UK's toughest men have found
themselves weeping uncontrollably. People with solid reputations
as hard and dangerous men said goodbye while trying and failing to
choke back floods of tears as they told another man they loved
him. The one they had come to say their final farewell's to was of
course the great Joey Pyle.
Of course, we all knew Joe had been ill for a long time, but
strangely, it was still a huge shock. It seems nothing can prepare
you completely for bad news even if you know it's coming. The
benefit show we all did for him was almost a year ago to the day.
I remember some trepidation about whether Joe would make it to see
True to form though, Joe fought on for a year despite the
illness he was living with, never gave up. I have said before and
will say again now, Joey Pyle did a lot more good in his eventful
life than he ever did bad. Sure, he did some naughty things but he
also worked tirelessly for sick and underprivileged children among
many other good causes. He would frequently visit Zoe's place
children's hospice with the other chaps and was so touched and
inspired by these amazing kids
that he wrote a book called 'Looking at life' and gave every
single penny it made to Zoe's while simultaneously exposing those
huge companies that had made vast fortunes from children's
products but refused to give anything back. Joe continued with
this work until his strength finally deserted him. His loyalty and
generosity to his friends was also huge. While others talked about
it, Joe just did it and there were very successful benefit nights
for Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Bronson, Wendy Lambrianou and many
others. Joe was always being asked to help out somebody or
something and I personally never saw him turn anyone down.
As far as the chaps are concerned, I would certainly say Joe was
the most popular and I truly mean that. There were many reasons
for this, not least Joe's larger than life personality. Perhaps
the biggest factor was that despite being close to the Nash
family, Joe wasn't connected to anyone firm so became friendly
with all of them. For example, he was great friends with the
Kray's and the Richardson's so could pop down the East End and see
Ronnie & Reggie or into South London for a drink with Charlie and
Eddie. He was good friends with both Roy Shaw and Lenny Mclean,
Freddie Foreman and Jack Mcvitie. Within the so called underworld,
Joe had no enemies to speak of. He always saw the advantages in
peace over mindless violence for violence sake. He would also
stick up for the underdog despite the fact it may have upset some
faces. For example, he always said that Jack Mcvitie deserved a
far more dignified end than he got. "Jack died like a grass, a
slag and he was no grass. He deserved a far more dignified end
than a room full of people jumping on him to try and impress the
Roy Shaw will tell you straight that Joey Pyle literally saved his
three or four times over. It was because of Joe's involvement that
finally saw the light of day after barely surviving hell on earth,
drugged up with the liquid cosh, hallucinating in pitch darkness
in the dungeons below Broadmoor. Without Joe, would Roy have died
a slow painful death in the bowels of hell a forgotten man? Roy
will answer yes!
Joe stood by Dave Courtney at a time when it would of been far
easier for him just to blank Dave, Joe didn't. Many did though,
only to drift back because Joe was sticking with him.
It was Joe that Charlie Bronson called Dad after his own father
passed away. There was no criminal link there, it was just that
Charlie looked up to Joe, learned from him and was inspired by
him. Charlie is just one of those hard men that are not ashamed to
have shed many tears since yesterday. The amount of quality people
I have spoken to since yesterday has been truly mind blowing and
no, they are not all rascals.
The vacuum that will be left by Joe will be impossible to fill, in
fact it's not worth even trying. He was a one off, unique. He was
also the glue that kept many people who on the face of it had
nothing in common together. 'How's Joe?' was a classic ice breaker
and got people over awkward conversation lapses. If you think I am
over playing the importance of Joe, it's obvious you never even
I could go on and on and on but I shall leave
God Bless Joe, you will NEVER be forgotten.