As the funeral cortege arrived, a respectful hush descended and only the sound of a lone piper, against the backdrop of muffled peals of Bolton Parish Church bells, could be heard.
But as the pallbearers — Wanderers boss Owen Coyle, captain Kevin Davies, former players Ian Seddon and Syd Farrimond, Nat’s son Jeff and Brian Finney, son of Sir Tom Finney — carried Nat into the church, there came a burst of spontaneous applause.
Others cried “hooray”, cheering their hero to the last, before the respectful silence fell once again as mourners, including the current Wanderers first team squad, made their way into the church.
Many hundreds more stayed outside to hear the service broadcast on loudspeakers. Inside, teammates and colleagues past and present sat alongside the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton and Nat’s old friend and England teammate, Sir Tom Finney.