Charity match for young crash victim

AN array of former professional and local football heroes will line-up at a special charity match in tribute to a young soccer captain who collapsed and died playing the game he loved.

AN array of former professional and local football heroes will line-up at a special charity match in tribute to a young soccer captain who collapsed and died playing the game he loved.

Former Manchester United, QPR and England defender Paul Parker and ex-Norwich City ace Robert Fleck are expected to be among the players who will turn out at AFC Sudbury's King's Marsh Stadium tomorrow in memory of Nicky Roche.

Father-of-two Mr Roche, 30, collapsed and died in November last year as he captained the Long Melford Working Men's Club team at Assington during a Martin's Builders Sudbury Sunday League fixture.

Mr Roche lived in Acton, near Sudbury, with his wife Lisa, 26, and two children – Megan, three, and two-month-old Declan. He collapsed with suspected heart problems as his brother Ciaran Roche, who was playing in the same game, watched on. Teammates and paramedics tried in vain to save him.


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Officials from the Martin's Sudbury Sunday League have now organised tomorrow's match in a bid to raise around £1,000 for Mr Roche's widow and children.

Mrs Roche said: "This is a lovely thought and is a fitting tribute to Nicky. He would have been surprised by it all, but he loved his football and would have thought this was really good.

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"This is a good way to remember him and I would like to thank everyone who organised it, I am very grateful."

It is hoped other former professionals will join Paul Parker, now Chelmsford City manager, and Robert Fleck for the game . They will appear for a AFC Sudbury guest team against a select Sunday League side, which will include some of Mr Roche's former team-mates.

Several of the AFC Sudbury team which is preparing to play in the FA Vase Final at Upton Park on May 10, will also play in the match. Former AFC favourite Robbie Devereux, who was forced to retire last year through injury, will also make an appearance.

AFC Sudbury manager Keith Martin, whose company sponsors the league in which Mr Roche played, said: "Nicky Roche was a popular lad and we just wanted to do something to help his wife and kids, we hope to raise at least a thousand pounds.

"I will play some of the current AFC players and Paul Parker is coming and so should Robert Fleck. I hope other professionals will play but I haven't been able to confirm that yet."

The game kicks off at 3pm and local businesses have also donated to prizes for a big raffle.

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