Stevenage family pay tribute to Stotfold football coach who ‘inspired generations of players’

Tony Lamacraft died following a pre-season friendly on Saturday

Tony Lamacraft died following a pre-season friendly on Saturday - Credit: Archant

The family of a football coach “who inspired generations of players” have paid tribute to him following his sudden death at the weekend.

Tony Lamacraft, from Stevenage, died in the car park of Stotfold Football Club at about 5.30pm on Saturday following a pre-season friendly against AFC Kempston.

The 51-year-old collapsed after the game, which ended prematurely due to a player suffering a double leg break, and went into cardiac arrest.

Both club members and the emergency services attempted to revive him using a defibrillator but he was pronounced dead at the ground in Roker Park.

Tony had been appointed as a coach at Stotfold last year having held similar posts across the area, including at Austin Arrowheads, Fairlands Youth, Hitchin Town, Knebworth FC and Langford FC.

In a statement sent to the Comet, Tony’s family said: “No matter where you go or who you speak to nobody had a bad word to say about him – he was the life and soul of every party. Aside from his family, his main passion – as everybody knows – was football. He has been involved in so many clubs throughout his life, either playing, coaching, managing or simply supporting.

“His latest apprentices were his grandchildren and in the time he spent with them he had already got them dribbling and scoring goals as if they were professionals. An individual who will never be forgotten and was always respected, Tony inspired generations of players to become the best footballers they could be.

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“His sense of humour combined with his honesty, happiness and selflessness will live on in our hearts and memories for eternity. We would like to thank everyone for their kind messages and support – it is so touching to know that so many people cared.”

Stotfold Football Club chairman Phil Pateman said: “Tony was a fantastic coach who did tremendous work for everyone at the club. Our thoughts go out to his family and we are all in shock at the moment.”

The club cancelled a first team fixture on Tuesday as a mark of respect.

Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke said: “He was a lovely guy who was a hard worker and really knew his stuff. He was well liked and his death will leave a massive hole in the local football scene. Everyone at the club would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family at this sad time.”

Mike Draxler, who was Tony’s manager at Knebworth, said: “He was a super guy. He was loved by everybody in football – in Herts and in Beds he was so well know. The number of people that have got in touch and told me that Tony has died is incredible.”

• Tony’s funeral is being held at Harwood Park Crematorium in Stevenage on Monday, August 4, from 11am. Donations are welcome for the British Heart Foundation via Austin’s Funeral Directors. Family flowers only.