Football club to pay respects to lost loved ones at upcoming fixture

Crowds at Hitchin Town. Picture: Kevin Lines

Crowds at Hitchin Town. Picture: Kevin Lines - Credit: Archant

Hitchin Town Football Club will be paying tribute to dearly departed friends and loved ones at an upcoming match later this month, in a special marking of commemoration and respect.

At their home fixture against Stratford Town on October 23, the club will be remembering the former players, club officials, volunteers, supporters, family and friends that have passed away over the past two years with a round of applause before kick-off ahead of All Souls' Day.

All Souls' Day - also known as the Day of the Dead - is celebrated on November 2 each year, following All Saints' Day and its eve, commonly known as Halloween.

Beliefs and practices as part of All Souls' Day vary dependant on Christian denomination, and similar festivals, such as Día de los Muertos, are celebrated in Mexico and Latin American countries, although they generally take a more joyful than solemn approach.

Explaining the reason behind Hitchin Town's own celebration of those who have passed away, Brian Gray from North Herts FM's commentary team explained: “I was shocked and saddened to read of [volunteer] Matthew Malarowski’s passing in March 2021.


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"I also thought about how due to lockdown restrictions the football club and supporters had been unable to pay their respects to Matthew plus the other much respected supporters, volunteers and officials that we had lost since the lockdowns begun such as Tony Huckle, Fred Andrews, Min Birdsey, Ralph Armitage and Chris Green to name a few.

"When Dad, John Gray, passed away in January 2020 before COVID-19 had reached the UK, we were so touched by the turn out from the football club and supporters at Dad’s funeral and wake, also how the club had honoured him at the Banbury Game.

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He added: "In November 2020, my sister and I were invited by the vicar of St Ippolyts Church to attend the All Souls' Day Service, where we remembered loved ones that we had lost.

"Prior to the service those attending were asked to supply the names of loved ones whom they wished to be remembered and we remembered and celebrated the lives of everyone together. We found the service very comforting and an appropriate way to celebrate the lives of our late parents.

"With this in mind, I wrote to the club to suggest that we did something for All Souls' Day and used it as a way of remembering and celebrating the lives of those we had lost recently, especially those that had done so much for this football club - but we had never been able to say thank you and goodbye as we did for Dad.

"On Saturday October 23, shortly before kick-off, club chaplain Rev Nick Smith will address the crowd and lead a minute's applause to remember and celebrate those that we have lost over the past two years.

"As with the church service I attended, we would like to ask supporters to supply names of family and friends they have lost in the last two years whom they wish to be remembered, so we can build a list of names in the match day programme.

"When we clap before the game we will remember and celebrate the lives of everyone on the list together. We also hope that families of those we are remembering will attend the game and join our celebration.”

Rev Nick Smith explained the significance behind the day of prayer: “On All Souls', church communities around the world both remember those who have passed away and seek to be inspired by their example.

"Our football club community has lost a number of much loved figures in recent times, so it’s right and fitting that they are remembered by us; and in remembering them that we are also inspired by their contribution to the life of this club.

"Many of us will also have lost loved ones who, though they weren’t directly connected to Hitchin Town Football Club, were enormously important to us as individual supporters, staff or players.

"As a football family, it’s also right that we remember our wider family together, and share with one another the remembrance of those who have made us who we are today.”

Those who would like to remember a lost loved one at Hitchin Town's All Souls' Day match can contact Brian at hitchintownbrian@gmail.com or club administrator Chris Newbold in the club office on matchdays or via chris.newbold@hitchintownfc.club.

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