Family and friends devastated by death of Barrow footballer at just 29
Last updated at 16:11, Thursday, 08 May 2014
AN amateur football club in Barrow is mourning the loss of a loyal player and dad-of-one.
Paul Johnson died in Furness General Hospital on Tuesday after being admitted with suspected meningitis earlier that day.
The 29-year-old, of Walney, was a popular figure at Vickerstown Football Club and his death comes after fellow player and dad-of-four Dave Forrester, known as Fozzy, died in March.
Mr Johnson, known as Jonno, played for the club since the formation of the under-12s 17 years ago. Progressing through to open age, he represented the reserves, A team and first team, notably playing in goal, centre-back and right-back on the team’s route to winning the Lancashire Shield in 2007.
First team manager Dave Round said it had all happened very quickly and everyone was struggling to come to terms with the loss of a popular man, who was due to celebrate his 30th birthday at Vickerstown Cricket Club tomorrow.
Mr Round said: “He’s come through the juniors with a group of lads and stayed loyal. Paul started in the first team and he could play any position across the back four and he was also an accomplished goalie.
“He was just a top, loyal devoted lad and footballer and he was always there at every training session and every game. He was going to help out with the A Team and the kids coming through next year and he was a great club man who was well respected; everybody liked him.
“If you were his father, you would be proud of him. He was a really good kid and we’re all devastated.”
Mr Johnson’s brother Mark plays with the reserves and his dad Ian played as a goalkeeper. He is also survived by mum Dee and young son Liam son. Mike Harvey, who is closely connected to Vickerstown, said Mr Johnson, who grew up at West Shore, came through the ranks as part of a close-knit group of young players who were all particularly devastated by the news.
He said: “From the bottom of my heart, he was a top, top lad. Everybody at Vickerstown loved him to bits. We’re a close family at the club and to lose him so soon after Fozzy, there’s just no words that can explain it.
“He was one of those guys who would play anywhere for you, any time. I’m just gutted for his family and Vickerstown.”
Close friend Phil Athersmith said: “He was a family man and would do anything for you. He’d be the first one to put himself forward if you ever needed anything. He had a lot of friends and touched a lot of people.”
The Furness Premier League was to contact clubs asking that a minute’s silence is observed ahead of matches this weekend in memory of Mr Johnson.
The coroner has been informed.
First published at 15:59, Thursday, 08 May 2014
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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Sad news to hear for such a young lad and fellow footballer. My prayers and thoughts are with all the family and everyone involved at Vickerstown football club.Grievesey
A lovely lad from a lovely family.he was friends at school with my daughter Sherrona and was welcomed at my house anytime.our hearts go out to his family we are gutted may u rip Paul xx
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