Football rematch for ‘Wardy’ a decade after fire tragedy

The event featured a rematch of a game played ten years ago. Pictures: Derek Martin
The event featured a rematch of a game played ten years ago. Pictures: Derek Martin

Family and friends of a talented Goring footballer gathered on Sunday for a special match, ten years after his tragic death in a fire.

Roofer David Ward died aged 24 in a fire on the Isle of Wight in May 2007.

David, who lived in Raleigh Crescent, Goring, was found collapsed in the kitchen, having been overcome by smoke as he tried to escape.

A former West Park and Durrington High School pupil, ‘Wardy’ played for East Preston, Arundel and Goring football clubs.

Those who knew David gathered for a special football match at East Preston football club in November 2007, and a couple of hundred assembled again on Sunday to mark a decade since his death.

Graham Ward, David’s younger brother, now 31, said: “We were nervous looking at the weather forecast over the weekend.

“When we started driving over there it started to rain, but we got lucky that it was dry during the football match.”

The event featured a rematch of East Preston v Arundel, made up of former players and David’s friends and family.

Graham was happy to report that his East Preston side won 3-1, overturning Arundel’s victory of ten years before.

He added: “Most of us were struggling after the first 20 minutes, we just about made it through. Though there were a few lingering injuries.

“Lots of Dave’s old mates came from far and wide – people came over from France for it.

“There were people I probably hadn’t seen for ten years.”

While not intended as a fundraiser, the event raised about £550 for Maybridge Parish Nursing.

“There was an excellent reaction from everyone – most of them probably laughed at the quality of football on display.

“It was really good to have so many people turn up and be able to catch up with everyone. We had everyone send in their favourite anecdotal stories about Dave.”

Asked if a followup event could take place in another ten years, Graham said: “I would love to get everyone together more regularly.

“Though in ten years time we will all be in our mid-40s, football may be beyond us.”

Graham instead suggested they might switch to a lower-intensity activity like darts.