TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular sportsman, who died from coronavirus.

William Cochrane lived for many years on Appleton Road and was the grandson of former Manchester United player and Manchester City manager Alec Bell.

He was born in Old Trafford in 1939 and was quickly evacuated to Bury, where he grew up while his father was on military duty.

Although he returned to Old Trafford after the war and grew up close to Sir Matt Busby, William’s father Donald was keener on tennis and coached his son to the extent that his team-mates on the Stretford Grammar first team were all three years older than him.

He joined the Northern Lawn Tennis club where his sporting career really took off, and he won the Cheshire County Men’s Singles title in 1961, followed by the doubles title in 1962.

He was a member of Ringway Golf Club for several years before enjoying the last 10 years at Hale Golf Club, and had been in excellent health touring the country in a camper van with wife Christine – before catching COVID-19 in April.

He died on May 3, four days after being taken into Wythenshawe Hospital. He leaves Christine, his wife of almost 60 years, and children Richard, Elizabeth and James.

Hundreds lined the route as William’s hearse departed Appleton Road, with a sole bagpiper playing outside the family home in what proved to be a profoundly moving moment for all who were there.

His youngest son, James, said: “We were greatly heartened by the hundreds who turned out at the roadside to pay their respects as dad made his final journey.

“A most welcome bagpiper from the St Vincent de Paul charged the air with emotion, tears were wept as we waved goodbye to William on a sunny, breezy day.

"Old tennis friends raised their rackets aloft in a salute with heads bowed as an incredible gesture of respect, love and support. Those gathered will never forget this. William lived well and worked hard. The family are devastated by his loss.”