THE SUSSEX football community will come together on Sunday to support Worthing United when they play their first game since the tragic deaths of Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt.
The Mavericks host East Preston in the FA Vase, with a 5pm kick-off, and the game will be the club’s first since Matt and Jacob died in the Shoreham Airshow crash, when on their way to play for United.
Just under 1,000 tickets were made available for the game – with a few still remaining – and the kick-off is at 5pm so anyone who played with Matt or Jacob on a Saturday or Sunday is able to attend.
Mavericks boss Nigel Geary admits it will be an emotional day and said: “It’s been hard thinking about the game, especially as Matt was always the first person I text when I sent out details for games or training.
“I don’t know how everyone will be on Sunday. When you look at where they sat in the changing room, you don’t know how you’re going to react or be on the day.
“We’ve got a minute’s applause and we know it’s going to be emotional.
“It’s going to hurt as we’ve got such strong memories of them both but everyone at the club is there for each other.
“Neither Matt or Jacob would ever miss a game and we’ve got to get back playing for them.
“All the boys want to get back out there now and do it for Matt and Jacob. They all want to put on a good show for them.”
United vice-chairman Mark Sanderson added: “Everyone at the club feels that both Matt and Jacob would be in support of this, and we will aim to do them proud.
“We have been helped by so many within the football family in order to stage this game, which was always going to be of significant interest to many local people.
“It will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the club’s history, sadly for such tragic reasons.
“East Preston and The FA have been very kind in allowing us to change the kick-off to the Sunday, and we would like to place on record our thanks to them, and also to East Preston who’ve waived their share of the gate receipts.
“I am sure it will be a fitting tribute to both men to see the ground full for the first time in Worthing United’s history to honour Matt and Jacob.”
Worthing United have retired the number one and 11 shirts in memory of Matt and Jacob for the rest of the season and a minute’s applause will be held before the game.
A special matchday programme is being printed for the game, along with scarfs as the football community will come together to pay their respects to Matt and Jacob.
A number of shirts from local clubs have been put on the tribute fence at the ground and more than £5,300 has so far been raised online by Worthing United for the players’ families.
Nigel added: “We’ve had a lot of support over the last week and I’d just like to thank everyone.
“We’ve had letters, cards, texts, tweets and Facebook messages. We’ve had letters sent to the club from the Channel Islands and Ireland and people don’t realise how much that means.”
Nigel said Worthing United were also grateful for the support that Brighton & Hove Albion have shown to them and said: “They have done so much to help us and we can’t thank them enough. They’ve sold the tickets for the game, sorted out the stewarding, parking, are printing 2,500 programmes and doing scarfs, they’ve just been unbelievable.
“They’re a real class act and Paul Barber and Paul Camillin have both been brilliant.”
Albion have dedicated their home game against Hull City on September 12 in memory of Matt and Jacob. A special pre-match pitch-side tribute, involving Matt and Jacob’s families, Matt’s Albion colleagues, players from both clubs, representatives from Worthing United and members of the emergency services is being arranged.
Brighton will also be making a donation, from match receipts, and the proceeds from a special tribute programme, to a fund for the families of the victims.
Before the game with Hull, the families of both Jacob and Matt, members of the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund football squad, and hundreds of Albion supporters are expected to walk from the Old Toll Bridge to Worthing United’s ground to complete the journey that Matt and Jacob were making on the day they lost their lives.
Brighton will be laying on special buses to transport supporters back to the Amex in time for the match against Hull.
Albion manager Chris Hughton dedicated his side’s 3-2 win at Ipswich on Saturday to the Airshow victims and said: “It was a wonderful tribute from the players and all the staff to dedicate such a good win, in particular to Matt and Jacob because they had the closest ties to the club, but of course to all who lost their lives.”
Brighton keeper David Stockdale wore personalised gloves, with Matt and Jacob’s names on, in the win.
A few tickets are still available for Sunday’s game. Worthing United will be selling tickets at their Lyons Way ground tonight and tomorrow (7pm to 10pm) and all day on Saturday.
Any queries, call United vice-chairman Mark Sanderson on 07968 856183.
To donate to Jacob and Matt’s memorial donation fund online, visit www.gofundme.com/bh2pr7dm
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