Football game for ‘Wardy’ a decade after fire tragedy

'Wardy' died ten years ago after a sofa he was sleeping on caught fire
'Wardy' died ten years ago after a sofa he was sleeping on caught fire

Family and friends of a talented young footballer from Goring who died in a fire are coming together ten years on.

Roofer David Ward was 24 when a sofa he was sleeping on caught fire at a cottage on the Isle of Wight in May 2007.

James Brown, who was also staying in the cottage, tried in vain to find his friend and workmate before jumping to safety from the first floor.

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.

Family and friends came together for a commemorative match at East Preston Football Club in November the year he died to remember David, and a similar event is planned for the tenth anniversary.

“We were all single young men who had had this tragedy thrust upon our lives,” said Graham Ward, David’s younger brother, now 31.

“It has made people have to grow up quite quickly. Everyone took stock of their lives at that point.”

Ten years on, and Graham is now married with two children of his own.

“Almost everyone that played in the game that day has gone on to have children, to get married,” he said.

“There is a sense of sadness .You can’t escape the fact that this is a sad event.

“However it’s also a celebration that, despite Dave dying at the age of 24, no one fell off the edge of a cliff.

“Everyone got up, got on and became successful in their own way,” he said.

Taking place on Sunday, April 30, this year’s memorial event will once again feature a ceremonial football game (though not a full 90 minutes this time due to lack of match fitness, Graham said).

Teams will wear the colours of East Preston and Arundel football clubs, two of the teams David played for.

“We’re happy to be back at East Preston,” said Graham.

“The club were fantastic first time around. Again this time around ten years on they could not have been more helpful.”

Members of the public who knew David are welcome to attend the event, which starts at 2.30pm. There also will be a children’s football match, as well as a live band.

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