World Cup: Huge flag is tribute to fan

ONE of the biggest England flags to be flown during the 2006 World Cup is 180ft x 40ft and has been erected as a memorial tribute to a St Ives man. Richie Lonergan, head of a scaffolding company, was killed in November as he was driving back from a job in

ONE of the biggest England flags to be flown during the 2006 World Cup is 180ft x 40ft and has been erected as a memorial tribute to a St Ives man.

Richie Lonergan, head of a scaffolding company, was killed in November as he was driving back from a job in Torquay. He and his partner, Gary Driver, who founded Crusader Scaffolding in Buckden, had tickets for the World Cup and would be there now, had it not been for the fatal accident.

Mr Lonergan drove into a freak hail storm and his car is believed to have slid on the ice. He would have celebrated his 45th birthday yesterday (Tuesday) and his wedding anniversary on Sunday, which is also Father's Day.

Mr Driver said: "Richie left three children. He and long-term partner, Jane had married in June. After he died, I was in shreds. Obviously, I won't be going to the World Cup - I didn't even known if I had the heart to keep the business going."


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Mr Driver, from St Neots, and Mr Lonergan, both Londoners, set up the scaffolding business five years ago, having been friends for years.

The giant flag is made of debris netting, provided by Quality Building in Great Staughton, and has been set up in Peterborough, where Crusader has provided the scaffolding for work expected to take five weeks - lasting through the World Cup.

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Mr Lonergan's wife, Jane, said: "I think it's brilliant. If Richie was here, he would love it. He was so patriotic. He was a Tottenham fan and he loved his football."

Mrs Lonergan, originally from Liverpool, said they had been together for 18 years and had met in Perth in Australia, where he had been working as a scaffolder with her brother. She had gone there aged 18.

"Once we had a family, I didn't want to go back to Liverpool and he didn't want to go back to London. When we were living in Australia, we met someone from Somersham who invited us to visit when we came back to England. We came over here and we just fell in love with St Ives."

She added that she would take their children, Frankie, 15, Abby, 13 and Ruby, 10 to see the England matches at the Seven Wives pub in St Ives. On Sunday - the day she would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary - friends were arranging a barbecue for the family, to mark the day.

She said: "When it is time to put a headstone on Richie's grave I want to lay out a football field on top of the plot with Astro Turf and put a little goal at each end. I want it to be somewhere that the children are not afraid to go and visit.

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