Local footballing community mourn the tragic loss of Worthing players

Jacob Schilt (left) and Matt Grimstone

Jacob Schilt (left) and Matt Grimstone

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The football community has come together to pay tribute after the tragic death of two Worthing United footballers.

Goalkeeper Matt Grimstome and midfielder Jacob Schilt died when a Hawker Hunter jet from the Shoreham Airshow crashed onto the A27.

Mile Oak tribute

Mile Oak tribute

The 23-year-olds were travelling together to their Southern Combination League match against Loxwood at Lyons Way on Saturday.

Tributes have been paid across Sussex to the pair and the others that lost their lives.

Loxwood manager Mark Beard, who was at the ground with his team awaiting the opposition players’ arrival, said: “It was shocking. We spent literally the whole afternoon with them all down there and didn’t leave until half four. We could just tell by the manager’s reaction at quarter-to when he couldn’t get hold of the boys, their phones weren’t working.

“It’s just shocking and something none of us will ever experience again. We played for the two boys against Chichester in the game that never was. It’s just one of those things that you can’t even describe.

“All the Football League have done a minute’s silence and I imagine the Premier League will do it Saturday. As you say, the football family is a massive thing and at the end of the day, it is two boys going to play the game they love, probably for no money and that happens - it’s tragic.”

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola said: “When you got home afterwards and saw how much damage has been done it just makes the football irrelevant at that stage.

“I played with Matt Grimstone at AFC Shoreham so semi knew the lad. It is just ridiculous and so sad.

“I cannot imagine what I would feel like if it was one of our players. They play for us but are friends as well. How do you deal with that? All we can do is send our condolences to the families, there is nothing we can say.

“I played Sundays with a lot of the Worthing United lads and Nigel Geary and know Steve Tasker and Mark Sanderson from old, I can’t believe what they must be going through. It must be hell for them all, not taking into account the family and friends.”

Billingshurst’s Mark Betts added: “With our ex-player Nigel Geary now the manager there and with some of our players and assistant manager Malcolm Saunders having good friends there, both on the playing and management staff, our thoughts immediately turned to them.

“The bitter taste of defeat (on Saturday) never crossed our lips as we have the opportunity to put things right, whereas others who had set out to play the game they love that day will never get the chance to do so and that put everything into perspective.”

Sussex County FA chairman Mathew Major said: “The whole of Sussex football has been rocked by this news. Both Matt and Jacob were popular and integral members of their clubs, as well as talented footballers.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire football family are with all those affected by this awful catastrophe.”

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