Players kick off in memory of Anton

Former friends and teammates of a footballer who collapsed and died while training are to play a match in his memory, a year on from his untimely death.

The game in tribute to Walsall FC youth team player Anton Reid takes place at Rushall Olympic FC, in Dales Lane, at 3pm on Sunday.

It will be played between Anton’s former team mates at junior side Streetly AFC, and organisers are hopeful that it will become an annual memorial game.

Anton collapsed and died after taking a ball on his chest during a routine practice session at the University of Aston training pitch in Birmingham Road, Walsall, on August 20 last year, aged just 16.

An inquest revealed that Anton had a heart condition that only came to light after his death, and a verdict of natural causes was recorded.

Tony Oakes, who has arranged the match and coached Anton at Streetly AFC, said proceeds from the game will go the Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Mr Oakes said: “Anton lived for his football and we felt that the most fitting way of remembering him would be a charity match.

“It is good for all his old team mates and friends to get together and help ensure Anton’s name lives on.

“As well as being a tribute we also want to celebrate his life and I believe it is what he would have wanted.

“Last year, we raised around £4,000 and we raised that for Anton’s family to help pay for the funeral costs.

“But this year we have decided to raise the cash for Cardiac Risk in the Young, as it is a great cause.”

As well as the game there will be a host of other activities including a barbecue. Tickets cost £3 and are available from Mr Oakes on 07980 634 274, or at the turnstiles.

Anton, a former pupil of Blue Coat Comprehensive School, was looked upon as a bright prospect by Walsall FC, He had joined the club aged 13, having spent a year at West Bromwich Albion who had signed him from Streetly.

Hundreds attended his funeral at Holy Trinity church in Birchfield Road, Birmingham.

In the aftermath of Anton’s death, his heartbroken mum Sonia Bailey said he was a ‘loving and caring’ son who would do anything for her.