Today will be a difficult and emotional day for the team at Worthing United FC in England. One year on from the Shoreham Airshow crash which killed two of its players, the club will hold a memorial for Jacob Schilt and Matt Grimstone at their ground in Worthing.
The tragic accident, which killed eleven people when a vintage jet crashed onto the busy A27 dual carriageway, has led two clubs at different ends of the football spectrum to come together to support each other.
Worthing United’s Vice Chairman, Mark Sanderson told us: “It was a horrible day.
“We’d all gathered for the match that the boys were on their way to, and it soon became apparent that they weren’t going to make it because they had been involved [in the accident].
“From then on, I think everybody was quite numb.”
Soon after the accident, Brighton and Hove Albion got in touch with Worthing FC to offer their condolences and assistance. The Championship club were grieving too, and Grimstone had worked for seven years as a groundsman at the club.
Brighton and Hove’s chief executive Paul Barber contacted Sanderson personally to offer the club’s counsellors to the team and anyone connected to the club who was affected by the loss.
Continuing this fledgling partnership, the clubs planned the first match at Worthing FC following the incident, against East Preston. Brighton and Hove lent security staff for the expected high turnout and provided a memorial programme for the occasion, featuring tributes to Schilt and Grimstone.
Sanderson described Schilt and Grimstone as “football fanatics” who both had a “dry sense of humour”.
“Matt was tall, being a goalkeeper, very tanned as he was always outside in the sun.”
“You normally expect goalkeepers to be quite gobby and loud, which he wasn’t. We were always trying to encourage him to be a bit more forceful verbally on the pitch.
“Jacob was tiny really, 5ft nothing.”
“He played in midfield, which is quite a key role. He wasn’t shy of going in on vicious tackles sometimes, often getting told off by the referee and giving as good as he got. He gave 100% in every game.”
“Off the pitch, though, he was quiet.”
Worthing FC beat East Preston 2-1 that day, before a crowd of 1,008 people, 10 times the usual amount of supporters.
For their own memorial, Brighton and Albion made a touching tribute before one of their games against Hull, inviting the families of all eleven victims and Worthing FC to watch the game.
The thoughts of #BHAFC are with the friends and family of those who lost their lives at Shoreham. #Togetherhttps://t.co/evXu9SWqSK
— BHAFC (@OfficialBHAFC) August 22, 2016
Before the game began, two giant shirts in Worthing FC colours, sporting Schilt and Grimstone’s names were laid on the pitch.
Speaking about the relationship between the two clubs, Sanderson said “We talk about the football family, but you realise how it touched people.”
“Our players don’t get paid, they play for the love of playing football, and their story touched people’s hearts.
As well as the support from Brighton and Hove Albion, the club also received messages from clubs across the globe.
Worthing FC will be holding a memorial at its ground, starting at 1pm. A minute of silence will be observed at 1.22, the time of the accident last year.
Our own memorial starts at the club at just after 1pm, we would like to see as many people there as possible to remember those lost.
— Worthing United FC (@WorthingUtdFC) August 22, 2016