Friends of a St Annes man who died after he was assaulted outside a takeaway today paid tribute to “most loving, generous person you would ever meet.”
Barry Kirkham, 47, was on a night out after attending the funeral of friend John Chandler.
He was on his way to Wetherspoons in St Annes, at around 11pm on Monday, when he was set upon outside Zeko’s on Park Road.
It is believed Mr Kirkham, a life-long Blackpool FC fan, had got involved in a football-related argument.
His friends carried out CPR until paramedics arrived.
They rushed him to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
He is thought to have died from a head injury.
Mr Kirkham, of Walter Avenue, St Annes, had spent the day with his friends and watched as they played a game of seven-a-side football in Mr Chandler’s memory.
The group were on their way from the Town House when the altercation happened.
Suzanne Giblin, the fiancee of Mr Chandler, said she was 10 minutes behind Mr Kirkham’s group as they were on their way to the pub.
She said: “As I turned around the corner Barry was on the ground and people were trying to resuscitate him. It’s all a bit of a blur.”
Miss Giblin described Mr Kirkham as a “lovely lad”.
She said: “He kept himself to himself – he was a quiet man and never caused any trouble with anybody.
“He was a really nice fellow who had enjoyed the day remembering his friend.”
A group of Mr Kirkham’s friends met at The Links pub on Heeley Road, St Annes, to raise a glass in his memory.
Helen Lamb, 37, of Dalton Street, St Annes, said: “We’d had a lovely day, sharing memories and laughing with friends, but it came to such an horrific end.
“We called him a gentle giant, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was the most loving, generous person you would ever meet.
“His family are lovely people, they don’t deserve this.”
Friend Dean Earnshaw, 38, of Forshaw Avenue, said: “A lot of us had gone home as they were leaving to go to Wetherspoons.
“We should have been there, and that’s what’s cutting us up the most.
“We’re spending the afternoon reminiscing. A lot of us don’t want to be in our homes after the emotions we have been through in the last 24 hours.”
Mrs Lamb said Mr Kirkham had lived for his family – his sisters Susie and Sandra, brothers David and Craig and his mum Christine.
He also lived for Blackpool FC and was a shareholder in the FY8 minibus, which took Blackpool season ticket holders around the country to away matches.
Mrs Lamb’s husband, Dave, said: “He was a distinctive Blackpool fan, everyone knew him. He went to World Cup matches, everything.”
The former Ansdell Secondary School, now Lytham St Annes Technology College, pupil worked at Tesco on Kilnhouse Lane, and enjoyed a pint down his local, The Crescent.
Mrs Lamb added: “Barry lived for his family and his football, and his friends were like one big family to him.”
A Blackpool FC spokesman said Mr Kirkham’s name would be included in a roll of honour on the club’s big screen, to be displayed at the first match of the season.
Blackpool FC player Angel Martinez tweeted his tribute after hearing the tragic news.
He tweeted: “Rest in peace Barry Kirkham. One more tangerine star in the sky.”
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE YOUR TRIBUTES TO BARRY BELOW.