Tributes have been paid to a young Doncaster dad who has died after collapsing during a football match with a suspected heart attack.
Father-of-one Richard Hawcroft, aged 31, who played for FC Real Bridge, died on Sunday after falling ill during a pre-season friendly game between Real Bridge and Balby Rovers.
Mr Hawcroft, who previously played for FC Wadworth and trained with Scunthorpe United, collapsed during the match on Sunday morning at Balby Community Sports Village, Springwell Lane.
He was attended to at the scene by paramedics and taken to Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield, where he died.
Friend Luke Midgley, who also plays for FC Wadworth, said: “It’s a massive shock. He sent me text on Sunday with lots of smiley faces in, and I’d been talking to him during the week.
“We were out together celebrating my birthday last weekend.
“There was me, my partner, Richard, his wife Louise and another couple – we went round together.
“I can’t believe it’s happened to him, but it has, he was a fit guy. I’ll never get over it. He can’t be replaced. I’m devastated.
“Nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. No tribute will ever be as good as he was.”
John Steele, secretary of Doncaster and District Sunday Alliance League, said: “Unfortunately during a pre-season friendly between Real Bridge and Balby Rovers Richard Hawcroft, aged 31, suffered a heart attack during the match. Despite the best efforts of the medical team that arrived, Richard passed away in hospital.
“Real Bridge are a new club into the League this season, and Richard previously played for FC Wadworth.
“I am sure that you will all join me in sending our sincere condolences to Richard’s family and friends, and all at Real Bridge FC on their devastating loss.
“Our thoughts are now with them, as well as players and officials of Balby Rovers who were witness to this dreadful tragedy.
“As a mark of respect, it would be appreciated if all clubs observed a minute’s silence prior to their opening League game on August 16, as we once again mourn the loss of a member of our football family.”
Richard, who ran a physiotherapy and sports injury clinic on Balby Road, was married with a young daughter.
Family friend Caroline Butler said Richard’s wife Louise wished to thank people for their support.
The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.