“He will be missed by everyone”: Heartbreaking tributes to footballer, 20, killed in ‘car meet’ crash – as police launch investigation

Tributes are being paid to a semi-professional footballer who was killed after being knocked down at a car meet.

Sam Harding, 20, from Stockport, was hit by an Audi S3 at the event on an industrial estate in Warrington on Sunday night. A 21-year-old man from Morley, Leeds, was arrested at the scene on suspicion causing death by dangerous driving.

Sam, a midfielder, played non-league football with FC United, Runcorn Linnets, Glossop North End and Ashton Athletic among others and also represented England Schooboys.

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Jimmy Whyte, chairman at Ashton Athletic in Wigan, said: “Ashton Athletic are devastated to hear the news of the passing of 2021/22 first team player Sam Harding. Sam was only at our club for one season and was a huge factor in our improved form since his arrival.

“He is a quiet, well-mannered young man and he will be sorely missed by everyone at the club. All our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this terrible time.”

FC United academy manager Tom Conroy said: “I worked with Sam in our academy for two years in which he has shown to be a very good center midfielder playing week in week out for the youth team, before eventually training and making appearances for our first team Technically Sam was one of the best academy players we have ever had, and that was proven when he was successful in England schoolboy trials earning caps for his country.

The semi-professional footballer died after being hit by a car on Sunday night

“He was a very polite lad and a pleasure to coach. Not only did his footballing ability shine but his attitude, work rate and professionalism on and off the pitch was always exemplary, and he was a great role model for his peers. Sam would seem quite quiet in and around the lads, however it was clear that he was a very popular and well liked lad in the academy with his team mates and staff at FC United.

“Sam is always spoken about to future academy players as a perfect example of the type of player we want at the club not only with regards to the standard of footballing ability but the type of person he was – kind, polite, hard working and professional He will be sadly missed and I would like to pass my love and condolences to Sam’s family.”

Runcorn Linnets FC said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news that Sam Harding unfortunately lost his life in a car accident yesterday. Sam made a handful of appearances for the club at the start of the season. We would like to offer our condolences to Sam’s family and friends.”

Sam was a member of the academy at FC United of Manchester before graduating to the first team

Prescot Cables FC said: “The club are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sam Harding, who was killed in a car accident last night. Sam made a number of appearances for Prescot Cables during the 2019-2020 season. Our thoughts are with his friends, former teammates and family at this time. RIP Sam.”

Sam also represented England Schoolboys at under 18s level. In 2019 he featured in a special digital Panini sticker set of the England Schoolboys squad.

Sam appeared in a special edition Panini sticker set while playing for England Schoolboys

In a tribute released earlier Sam’s family said: “Our beautiful son was tragically taken away from us on Sunday 10 April 2022. A much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend to many. We will never ever forget you Sam and will love you forever. Rest in peace sweet angel, love Mum, Dad and Amy xx.”

Police are appealing for witnesses and video footage of the incident which took place at around 9.40pm on Kingsland Grange. They say a ‘large number’ of people were at the car meet – events where large numbers of car enthusiasts get-together.

Sgt Simon Degg, from Cheshire Police’s Serious and Complex Collision Investigation Unit said: “Inquiries in relation to this incident are in the early stages and we are committed to doing everything we can to establish what has taken place. We know that there were a large number of people present at the ‘car meet’ and as part of our investigation we are keen to hear from witnessed the collision.

“The same goes for anyone with any video footage from the event – ​​both of the collision itself and before and after the incident. I’d urge anyone with any information, no matter how small, to get in touch.”

Anyone with any information or video footage which may aid the investigation is asked to contact Cheshire Police here or on 101, quoting IML 1242714.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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