FA Cup qualifying: Memory of Jordan Sinnott lives on at Matlock Town

8 September 2020 0 By Total Football News
Matlock Town wear tee-shirts in tribute to Jordan Sinnott
Matlock Town's players wore T-shirts with a photograph of Jordan Sinnott on underneath their football shirts in their first game after his death

"You weren't just a footballer, you were our friend and brother. Rest easy Jordan, we love, miss and will never forget you."

On 25 January 2020, Matlock Town, a tight-knit family club run by volunteers in the seventh tier of English football, were in deep shock.

Jordan Sinnott, a popular and talented member of the team, died after being attacked during a night out. Three men were later jailed for the attack on the former Huddersfield Town midfielder.

It left a football community heartbroken. For the team-mates who shared a changing room with the 25-year-old, his death was particularly devastating.

While the media gaze moved on, they could not simply switch off the pain of losing a loved colleague.

"It still doesn't feel real that Jordan is no longer around," Adam Yates, Matlock's long-serving defender and captain, says eight months on.

As Matlock prepare to face OJM Black Country in the preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday, BBC Sport spoke to club officials, players and fans about the impact Sinnott's death has had on them.

Jordan Sinnott
Jordan Sinnott is fondly remembered at Matlock Town for his smile and love of 80s pop music

'One of the hardest things I've had to do'

It was Paul Phillips, on his second day as Matlock's new manager, and Keith Brown, the club's 80-year-old chief executive, who broke the news to Sinnott's stunned team-mates that the player was in hospital and to expect the worst.

After four straight league defeats, players had made their own way across Derbyshire to face Mickleover Sports for a Northern Premier League Premier Division encounter on 25 January.

"Players were arriving in dribs and drabs but as soon as you walked into the dressing room you sensed something wasn't right," adds Yates.

"The lads were distraught and were consoling one another. It was awful."

After a decision was made to postpone the match, the team made the 23-mile journey back to Causeway Lane, Matlock's ground.

"Telling the players that Jordan's life support machine was probably going to be switched off was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do," says Phillips, an experienced non-league manager with Ashton United and Buxton.

Later that Saturday, the news everyone dreaded was announced.

"Everyone, from the chairman to the kit man, was at the club when we heard," says goalkeeper Jon Stewart, who was at Barnsley-based non-league club Shaw Lane in 2016 when defender Daniel Wilkinson died after collapsing on the pitch during a match.

"I'd managed to hold my emotions together all day but when I got home I couldn't get out of my car."

Matlock relayed the sombre news on Twitter in a message which had almost 50,000 reactions.

'Felt like you had a lost a family member'

Stuart Briddon, who operates one of the turnstiles at Matlock's picturesque ground, has spent his life following the club nicknamed the Gladiators.

The 55-year-old was at Wembley on their greatest day, in 1975, as they beat Scarborough 4-0external-link in the FA Trophy final when the Fenoughty brothers - Nick, Tom and Mick - were named in the same starting XI at the national stadium.

He was also among about 30 Matlock fans who witnessed Sinnott's last game for the club, in which he scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 league cup win at Basford United on 14 January 2020.

"One of the goals was cracking, he received the ball on the edge of the box and cracked it into the bottom corner," recalls Briddon.

"Matlock is a family club. Players and fans mix in the clubhouse after matches. It felt like you had lost a member of your own family when Jordan died."

Tributes at Matlock Town for Jordan Sinnott
Flowers, scarves and football shirts were left at Matlock's ground

Sinnott's mother, Mel, attended Matlock's first match after his death, a 1-1 draw with Hyde United on 1 February, along with his fiancee, Kelly Bossons.

"Jordan's mother gave a beautiful speech in tribute to her son," says Brown. "There wasn't a dry eye in the building. There was a huge round of applause at the end that could be heard all over Matlock."

Hyde laid a wreath before the game while there was a minute's applause as a tribute. When Piteu Crouz scored for Matlock, all the team ran to the dugout to hold Jordan's blue Matlock shirt in the air.

"Motivation for that game wasn't required," adds Yates. "We just knew we needed to go out and get a result for Jordan by hook or by crook."

A dressing-room plaque and a cardboard cutout

Step inside Matlock's changing room and on the wall is a wooden plaque with Sinnott's name and age on it, a permanent reminder of a footballer who is fondly remembered for his smile, ability to make his team-mates roar with laughter and love of cheesy 80s pop music.

Midfielder Spencer Harris, who was at Huddersfield at the same time as Sinnott, arranged for the plaque to be made. "It had a big impact on me, I had a couple of days off work to process what had happened," he says.

Two weeks before Jordan's death, Stewart recalls him holding court on a coach trip to Eastleigh for an FA Trophy tie.

"He had the lads in stitches the whole way down," he says.

"It was a long journey, we had a card table going and he took everybody's money. When I picture him he always has a massive grin."

Yates adds: "He was well-mannered, jovial and wouldn't hurt a fly. He loved selecting the music for the dressing room and really liked his 80s tunes. Some of the other lads weren't always as keen."

News of Sinnott's death was felt far beyond the town of Matlock.

Huddersfield forward Danny Ward has a tattoo of his friend on the back of his leg, while former Premier League striker Jon Stead sat next to a cardboard cutout of Sinnott at Wembley on 2 August after helping Harrogate Town win promotion to the Football League.

Having graduated from Huddersfield's academy, Bradford-born Sinnott went on to play five first-team games for the Championship club between January 2013 and August 2014.

He appeared in League Two for Bury and Chesterfield, and had spells in non-league at Altrincham, when his father, Lee, was manager, Halifax and Alfreton, before joining Matlock in August 2019.

A few weeks after Sinnott's death, Matlock came close to losing another player.

Stewart, 31, was electrocuted while working in a field in Swindon which had overhead power lines in February. A former team-mate of Danny Ings and Harry Arter at Bournemouth, Stewart was hit with 11,000 volts.

"For five seconds my brain was working while I was being electrocuted and all I was thinking was: 'I'm done here,'" he says.

"My trainers had smoke coming off them - it was like I was on fire. I tried to take them off but they were sticking to me.

Sinnott's memory lives on through a foundation set up to raise money for causes he was passionate about.

Yates, a player at Matlock since 2009, adds: "Jordan's family need space but we will always be here for them. Jordan will never be forgotten."

This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53983500