Petworth remembers much-loved football player Nicky

Players observe a moment of silence before the memorial game.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131190-5
Players observe a moment of silence before the memorial game.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131190-5

FOOTBALL fans and players from Petworth rallied round on Sunday (August 25) to play a game in memory of a much-loved member of the community.

Petworth resident Nicky Hedger was just 20 years old when he died in a car accident on the Halfway Bridge in 1996.

A keen football player, he regularly played for Petworth Football Club.

For around 12 years, his friends and family have organised a football match in his memory, raising money in the process.

Everyone in attendance, including the 30 players and more than 40 spectators, went along to remember a very popular young man.

Nicky’s brother Johnny said: “Nick loved his football and spent his short life playing at Petworth.

“Everyone who turns out on the day knew Nick. We have players in their fifties who knew him and come along every single year.”

Each player takes along a raffle prize and £5, which, along with proceeds from the after-play barbecue, goes to charity.

This year, the £300 raised will help support the St Mary’s Church playgroup.

Nicky’s brothers Liam and Johnny Hedger and Scott Lillywhite all get involved, with Liam and Johnny acting as captains for the two teams, enjoying a bit of sibling rivalry while they’re at it.

The match was close throughout, with both sides remaining fairly equal until the last nail-biting minutes.

Goal scorers on both sides include John Pafford, Kevin White, Shaun Bridger, Darren Hodd, and a penalty scored by Johnny.

But it was Liam’s side who were ultimately victorious, winning 3-2. Referee was Simon Wadey, who was Nicky’s best friend.

Nicky’s family wish to express their thanks to everyone who gets involved every year, including Petworth Football Club who allow the use of their pitch and bar for the day. Kind donations also came from local businesses, including gift vouchers from the Hungry Guest and the Co-op, tickets from Hampshire Cricket Club and tickets from Southampton Football Club for a tour of their grounds.

Mention should also go to Trevor Lillywhite and Richard Tomkinson as head chefs, manning the barbecue in the blistering heat.