Arlesey Town to host 'amazing' Grenfell Athletic football team

The Grenfell Memorial Wall sits beneath the tower.

The Grenfell Memorial Wall sits beneath the tower. - Credit: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

There will be plenty of emotions on Saturday when Arlesey Town play a very poignant pre-season friendly.

The fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, when 72 people lost their lives, came on June 14. 

But out of that horrific day has emerged something has become a symbol of hope and resilience, Grenfell Athletic Football Club.

Arlesey chairman Dave Kitson helps coach the side and believes the game will be a fantastic spectacle and one where the public can cheer both clubs.

"Wherever they go, people want to come out and show their support," he said. 

"I coach them on a Sunday and they are all decent players. They are all west London based and have all been affiliated with the likes of Brentford and Fulham and QPR since they were little. 

"Most have them have grown up together but we’ve got bereaved and survivors from the tower in the team. 

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"They are a Sunday League side and are just switching over to being a Saturday team and have added a women’s team as well." 

Arlesey Town chairman Dave Kitson helps to coach Grenfell Athletic.

Arlesey Town chairman Dave Kitson helps to coach Grenfell Athletic. - Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY

The story of their formation came in the hours and days after the blaze.

"It’s amazing," said Kitson. "They founded the team the day after. A guy called Rupert Taylor, who was a community worker, saw a lad wandering around looking a little bit lost. 

"He’d lost his uncle in the tower and he had nowhere to go and didn’t know what he was doing. 

"So [Taylor] befriended him and starting talking to him and it turned out he had lost both parents in the space of three months just in the year before. 

"But when he was asked how he got through that, he replied ‘I just played football’. 

"So that was what they did, they started a football team.

"We have a lad who saved his whole family, we’ve got one lad who had to jump out of a second-floor window with his missus on his back after handing his baby boy over to someone he didn’t know. 

"It was just chaos and they lost absolutely everything, they literally had nothing."

The game at Arlesey's New Lamb Meadow kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, July 30.

The Blues then start their Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division season on Tuesday, also at home, when they host Biggleswade United.