Tragic footballer’s life will be celebrated by his club in emotion-charged game

Daniel Wilkinson
Daniel Wilkinson
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The non-league football family will be in mourning on Saturday afternoon - but will also celebrate the life of Daniel Wilkinson.

The 26-year-old collapsed while playing for Barnsley’s Shaw Lane AFC in a League Cup clash against Brighouse Town on Monday.

It is thought he suffered a cardiac arrest. The tragedy echoes that of Dronfield referee Roger Evans, who died immediately after a South Normanton v Borrowash Victoria game in 2012.

Evans’ death sparked a campaign to install more defibrillators.

Wilkinson, who worked at an accountants in Broomhill, Sheffield, was treated by medics for more than 30 minutes before being taken to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax, where he was pronounced dead.

Danny’s condition was know as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (AVRC), the same condition that caused former footballer Fabrice Muamba to retire in 2012.

Shaw Lane players, after some soul-searching, have decided to play this weekend as their tribute to the ex-Hull City trainee. The decision was endorsed by the player’s family, although Brighouse have decided not to play this weekend.

Shaw Lane have thanked Brighouse for their “support and kindness.”

They tweeted: “Your players, staff and fans are special. There’s a bond now never to be broken #RIPWilks #footballfamily.”

Shaw Lane, who play in the Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division One South - the same league as Stocksbridge Park Steels and Sheffield FC - will take the field against Romulus, from Sutton Coldfield.

Club secretary Dave Exley said the club hoped they could “do Daniel proud. Football is not important on Saturday.

“Daniel’s family decided they wanted this game to go ahead and be a celebration of his life.

“All the players want to play - it quickly became obvious that everybody had the same thoughts as his parents.”

A minute’s remembrance will be held ahead of kick-off.

Shaw Lane will retire the number five shirt for at least the rest of the season.

The club is for people to pay what they want at the gate as a donation rather than the usual gate entrance fee, all proceeds raised will go to the ‘Danny Wilks Foundation.’