Landlord and former Torquay United goalkeeper John Turner has said a heartfelt 'thank you' to the countless friends and supporters who have sent messages of goodwill after fire tore through his Jolly Sailor pub in Ogwell, near Newton Abbot.
Appeals have already been started for Turner and his partner Amanda, not least because the blaze took almost all their belongings, but also because the ex-Gulls favourite lost his large collection of career memorabilia.
"I've had hundreds of people getting in touch to offer their support and sympathy, and we can't thank them enough," said John. "Everyone has been brilliant.
"We've had so many offers from people just to take us in, but thankfully we're staying with a friend just outside the village who's been incredibly kind."
John, 66, ran several pubs in Torquay, starting in 1987, after a playing career of nearly 338 games with Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Reading, Torquay, Chesterfield and Peterborough United.
He made 128 appearances in two spells at Plainmoor, where he is still rated as one of the best goalies ever to play for the Gulls.
He took over the 'Jolly' 20 years ago, and the pub has since become a focal point of Ogwell village life, and a magnet for football loving regulars from the Newton area.
The fire destroyed most of the Heavitree Brewery-owned listed building, including the bar and the Turners' accommodation above, despite the efforts of firefighters manning more than a dozen engines and other appliances.
"The fire service were brilliant right the way through, and we can't thank them enough," said John.
"Since then I've had phone calls, texts and other messages from all over the world, from people I hadn't spoken to for years.
"Amanda and I went into Newton Abbot the following day to buy some everyday stuff, and people were coming up all the time - it was very emotional.
"I tried to get stuff out of the building when I probably shouldn't have done, but we lost more or less everything, even our passports.
"But thank God, we're safe and no-one was hurt."
Fire service forensic officials are still trying to discover how the fire started, while insurers and structural experts have already began the process of assessing the damage and what it will take to rebuild the pub.
John managed to salvage just one treasured programme, of a fondly-recalled 2-1 win for United away to promotion-chasing Barnsley in 1978.
United supporter Kevin Spencer is the man behind the appeal for fans to search through their collections for programmes or pictures covering Turner's career.
"While so much of it can never be replaced, many of the programmes from that time can be, so we are trying to track down as many as we can," said Kevin.
"We wondered if there are any Gulls fans out there that either have them or are willing to part with them to give to John.
"I'm sure he's devastated to lose everything, but I am sure United fans can unite as one to replace at least some of the things he has lost in the fire.
"We greatly appreciate any help from the Yellow Army."
Interested fans can help by contacting 07702 098 021 or 07968 587 737.
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