Asfordby FC comes together to honour Will Billingsley – team-mate and inspiration

Asfordby FC chairman Simon Atherley with Will's family by the memorial tree and plaque EMN-181114-085205002
Asfordby FC chairman Simon Atherley with Will's family by the memorial tree and plaque EMN-181114-085205002
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More than 1,000 well-wishers turned up at Asfordby FC on Friday to remember young footballer Will Billingsley who died earlier this year aged just 12.

Will, who played for Asfordby FC Colts, was a keen footballer and Tottenham Hotspur supporter and the evening was designed to remember and honour him, while allowing his friends and team-mates to give thanks for his life and friendship.

The teams of coaches and parents line up for the pre-match picture EMN-181114-085228002

The teams of coaches and parents line up for the pre-match picture EMN-181114-085228002

In that spirit an oak tree, donated by Nigel Gates, of Gates Nursery was unveiled close to the first-team pitch with a plaque which read ‘In Memory of Will Billingsley 2006-2018, Team-mate, friend and inspiration, Asfordby Football Club’.

Club chairman Simon Atherley said: “We wanted there to be a permanent reminder of Will at the club and as I said at the unveiling, Will had a big heart and what better way to represent that than with an English oak tree.

“We thank Nigel for his kindness and generosity.”

The game itself was played between the Asfordby coaches and a side made up of parents.

Spectators launch balloons at half-time for Will PICTURE: Phil James EMN-181114-085216002

Spectators launch balloons at half-time for Will PICTURE: Phil James EMN-181114-085216002

The sides were led onto the pitch through a guard of honour made up of Will’s team-mates who will all wear shirts with ‘Will’ on the back in games this season.

The coaches led 2-1 at half-time, the parents having missed a penalty just before the break.

During the break, more than 100 young players from the club were invited onto the pitch to release balloons in the colours of Tottenham, while making a wish for Will.

The game finished 4-2 in favour of the parents.

William Billingsleywith Leicester City mascot Filbert Fox at last year's fundraiser at Asfordby EMN-181114-090611002

William Billingsleywith Leicester City mascot Filbert Fox at last year's fundraiser at Asfordby EMN-181114-090611002

“I’m not sure that the level of the football was up to much, although it was played in a proper competitive spirit,” Atherley added.

“Obviously the most important thing is that once again we have shown that the community can come together and unite around sport.

“I find it inspiring that people who don’t know Will’s family are prepared to come out in significant numbers on a cold Friday night in November, to show support and solidarity.

“We hope that this support provides some comfort for them and that others in difficult circumstances understand that the club is part of their community and stands ready to help in any way that we can.”