MODEL professionals in an amateur game. That is how Worthing United Football Club’s Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt have been described after their tragic deaths in the Shoreham Airshow crash on Saturday afternoon.
Matt and Jacob, both 23, were not only team-mates but were best friends off the pitch. They were travelling together for United’s home match in the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division with Loxwood when they died after a Hawker Hunter fighter jet crashed into a busy stretch of the A27.
Mavericks manager Nigel Geary described Matt and Jacob as “two of the nicest guys you could meet” and admitted that the last thing the team was thinking about is playing a game of football.
He said: “I find it hard to look at our pitch and not look at Matt in goal and see Jacob scoring. It will be even harder looking at the pitch from the other side when I’m in the dug-out.
“I’ve already been in the changing room a couple of times and I find it hard to look where they sat.
“The squad are in bits, they don’t know what to do and they’re all coping with it in their own ways. The last thing anyone wants to do right now is even think about playing football.”
Nigel also managed goalkeeper Matt and midfielder Jacob on a Sunday for AFC Shoreham.
He said: “I’m very lucky to have spent a lot of time with both of them, for Worthing United and AFC Shoreham. It’s been Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday for almost two years.
“It’s a pleasure to have known two such amazing lads.
“Matt, Grimbles as he is known, is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
“He’d never have a bad word to say and it hit home what his mum said that, in 23 years, he never lost his temper.
“It went against the grain... as goalkeepers go, it’s the complete opposite of what you want a goalkeeper to be but he was still a great goalie. He had a really good future ahead and I know other clubs had already started talking about him.
“We met Jacob through Matt. He brought him to the club when I took over at the beginning of last season.
“Jacob hadn’t played for two years due to university but before that was at Eastbourne Town. He was a very talented midfielder, silky on the ball, could keep the ball for fun and was tenacious. He’d play against people twice his size and would give as good as he’d get.
“As people, their personalities matched. They were best friends and they clicked together, they travelled together and they were both quiet and reserved and wouldn’t say anything bad about anyone.
“They were model professionals in an amateur game.
“We’ve had thousands of messages of support from the whole football community and they’ve all been much appreciated.”
Matt had previously played for Mile Oak, where he was a popular member of the club.
He played for Mile Oak’s successful youth team who won their league in 2010, before also playing for the first team during his five years at the club.
He left Oak to join Worthing United ahead of the start of last season and helped the Mavericks win the Sussex County League Division 2 league and cup double.
Mile Oak manager Anthony Whittington said: “Matt was a lovely lad, never a problem and everyone at the club is just devastated.
“He played for our youth team in 2010 and helped them win the league and he’d been with us up until the start of last season when he joined Worthing United.
“A lot of our players were really close to him and played with him in the youth team.
“He was very well liked and an absolutely brilliant person. Forget about what a good footballer he was, on and off the pitch, he was just perfect.
“He was a lovely lad, had a great heart and you’d never hear him be aggressive on a football pitch. Everyone’s thoughts from the club are with his family.”
Anthony has confirmed that Oak’s home match with Lancing on Saturday will go ahead but the club’s reserve team match at Steyning Town has been postponed.
He said: “It’s going to be an emotional day on Saturday and it’s going to be very hard. Members of our reserve team were very close friends with him and they want to be part of the day on Saturday, so their game has been postponed.
“We’re going to print t-shirts of Matt to wear in the warm-up and we’ll have a minute’s silence, before everyone will go back to the pub afterwards.
“He was a part of us and was such a polite lad. When he left to go to Worthing United, he kept apologising but said he wanted to go and play at first-team level.
“We had two really good keepers in our squad at the time, so didn’t stand in his way. He went to play first-team football at Worthing United and enjoyed a very successful season.”
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