Mourners wear football shirts at funeral of Northern Ireland fan Darren Rodgers

The father of Darren Rodgers is comforted during the funeral of his son at St Patrick's Church in Ballymena. Picture by Matt Bohill, Pacemaker Press
John Monaghan

HUNDREDS of mourners, some wearing football shirts, turned out to pay their final respects to a Northern Ireland fan who died at the Euro 2016 tournament in France.

The funeral of Darren Rodgers (24) took place on Saturday in St Patrick's Church in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Mr Rodgers died in the early hours of Monday, June 13 when he toppled 26ft over a barrier from a promenade in Nice.

Hours earlier he had watched Northern Ireland play their opening game against Poland.

Some mourners wore Northern Ireland shirts while a guard of honour was formed outside the church by members of the Church's Lads' Brigade and Braid United FC, the football team with which Mr Rodgers was a player.

Rev Mark McConnell told mourners, who included TUV leader Jim Allister and football commentator Jackie Fullerton, that the family had discovered that Mr Rodgers was "not alone" at the time of his accident.

He said: "There were folks there right beside him as his life ended.

"There were folks who leapt off a bench and ran down from that promenade and onto those rocks and even though we may never maybe find out who those dear friends were it is a comfort to know that Darren was not alone.

"Many of you will know him as good fun. He had a horde of friends who saw him as a bit of a joker, good fun to be about, and a real firm friend."

The minister said that the anthem of Mr Rodgers' favourite football team, Liverpool, You'll Never Walk Alone, was a suitable theme for his father Paul and mother Jacqueline, as the community rallied round.

Following the funeral service, Mr Rodgers was laid to rest in Ballee Cemetery in Ballymena.

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