HUNDREDS of mourners are expected at the funeral of a popular Leeds pub landlord who started out as professional footballer.
Freddie Cliff played for Scunthorpe as a teenager and managed teams across Yorkshire while running a string of Leeds pubs with wife Julie including a successful nine-year stint at city centre pub Whitelocks.
Mr Cliff, who also played professional rugby league for Hunslet, died on August 1 after a long battle with heart disease.
His wife of 30 years Julie, 58, of Whinmoor, Leeds, said: “He was my soulmate, he was my life. He idolised me and I idolised him.”
The couple, who have one daughter, Linsey, ran Hobby Horse pub on Lovell Park Road near Leeds city centre in the early 1980s
They also ran the Broadway on Dewsbury Road, Beeston, and The Old Hall at Heckmondwike before moving to Whitelocks in Leeds city centre in the late 1980s. During their tenure Whitelocks won the 1994 Yorkshire Evening Post Oliver restaurant of the year award for and the 1995 CAMRA pub of the year.
Mrs Cliff said: “It was absolutely brilliant. We met so many characters made so many friends at Whitelocks. It was buzzing all the time. Jake LaMotta visited in the early 1990s.
“Lloyd Grossman came in for a drink quite often and actor Tim West came in because he had a barge on the canal. Richard Whiteley was a regular and Freddie was pals with David Batty and Peter Lorimer.”
The couple later ran the Headingley Taps in the late 1990s and ended their career in the licensed trade running the Deer Park pub in Street lane, Roundhay.
Mrs Cliff said: “I would say he was one of the top publicans in Leeds. He would always have a smile and a chat with everyone.”
Mrs Cliff said all are welcome at his funeral at 3pm on Friday August 18 at Lawnswood Crematorium followed by a celebration of his life at Leeds Irish Centre on York Road.