THE schoolboy mascot who led Bolton Wanderers out in the 1958 FA Cup Final has died after a battle with cancer.

David Hartley, aged seven at the time, witnessed Wanderers humble Manchester United 2-0 at Wembley.

He was the Trotter’s mascot for home and away matches for seven years, starting when he was just three-years-old.

The FA Cup match was a special moment in Mr Hartley’s life which generated memories he shared with his many friends and family.

In those days mascots differed to the dressed up characters — such as Lofty the Lion — that are commonplace today.

There was just one child who led the teams out on match days, and they would have that duty for all home and away matches until they “retired”.

Mr Hartley was chosen because his mother, Edith Hartley, was a founder member of the supporters’ association. He was a dedicated Wanderers fan and a season ticket holder throughout his life.

Mr Hartley, who lived in Astley Bridge, was also well know as a bus driver, then later ran his own stall on Bolton Market selling bags and luggage.

He was diagnosed with cancer in November 2006, and continued to watch Wanderers at The Reebok Stadium until his illness deteriorated just before Christmas.

The 59-year-old died on Tuesday at Bolton Hospice, with his family by his side.

He leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Pam, and four children Lennard, Lisa, Carl and Damian.

Carl, aged 27, of Lostock, said: “He was one of those people who would do anything for anyone. He had a heart of gold and will be missed by a lot of people.

“Bolton Wanderers was a big part of his life, and he was so proud that he was the mascot.

“He used to tell us lots of stories and it was so different to how things are now.

“It will be hard going to matches without him, I will miss the banter, but I know he will be watching and supporting from above.”

He also praised the staff at Bolton Hospice, where Mr Hartley spent his final days.

Mr Hartley’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at Howe Bridge Crematorium, Atherton, at 11.30am.