New soccer tragedy

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THE football community in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire has been stunned by the death of the Sheffield and District Referees Association chairman Roger Evans, who collapsed just moments after officiating a game.

Evans, who was aged 58 and from Dronfield, had been refereeing on Saturday and as the officials and teams walked back to the changing rooms afterwards, his colleagues saw Evans collapse. He was later pronounced dead.

The tragedy has echoes with the heart-attack collapse of Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton Wanderers player, last weekend. Muamba is recovering from his cardiac arrest.

Evans had been officiating in the Central Midlands League game near Derby between Borrowash Victoria and Leicestershire side Ellistown.

One of the players involved, Borrowash midfielder Scott Staniland tweeted: “Our ref died on the pitch today. We need to raise more awareness. It’s so important the work you do... Rip Roger Evans @CRY_UK (Cardiac Risk in the Young.) He added: “Still in shock.”

His brother Brett added: “At the start of today I never thought I’d see someone die. Our referee, Roger Evans. RIP.”

A Central Midlands League spokesman said: “It is with great sadness I report the sudden death of Roger, who passed away after refereeing his match. Roger has been a sincere friend for 30 years and a great ambassador for the CMFL. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family and his many friends. Nobody is indispensable but some are missed more than others, Roger certainly comes into that bracket.”

Last Thursday, 300 referees and guests from South Yorkshire and the North Midlands heard Evans make a speech at the Sheffield and Hallamshire Referees Association County Rally in Rotherham. Evans also made a presentation during the ceremony where the guest speaker was former Premier League ref David Elleray, President of the Referees’ Association.