Players for Stockton FC’s men’s Sunday league 1st team are paying tribute to their friend and teammate Nathan Rhodes who was tragically killed in a car crash last year.
Nathan, 23, and from Southam was the team’s manager last season and he was also their captain playing as a ‘no nonsense’ centre half.
And to proudly remember Nathan, the team’s new kit - which has been sponsored by The Bowling Green pub in Southam, Stockton News and 3J Driveline Ltd - has his initials ‘NR’ on the sleeve.
Dan Jones, who played alongside Nathan for several years and is now co-manager with Tim Horley, said: “We are having a shocking season which does not reflect the quality of the team we have on paper and I’m sure Nathan not being here is one of the reasons for that.
“What happened to him really puts things into perspective and it’s difficult to give those inspirational team talks now while we think of him.
“But over time I’m sure we’ll all start to feel better again and by having the initials put on our kits we thought it was a nice gesture to show how much we appreciated him and miss him.”
Much has been done at the club to remember Nathan.
His number 2 shirt has now been taken out of the squad list and framed with a photograph of him at the Stockton club house.
A charity match was also held in his honour not long after his death.
And Nathan’s mother, Barbara Hatcher whose younger son Simon also plays for the Stockton team, has had memorial benches put both at the ground and in Bishops Itchington where her eldest son would play football on Saturdays.
Nathan was killed on the Radford Road in Leamington on June 20 last year along with two other young adults Ryan Case, 25, of Stockton, and Emily Jennings, 27, of Warwick, when drunk driver Jamie Riddick, now 21, of Kineton, crashed the car in which they were all travelling into a tree and a wall.
Riddick, who had only a provisional driving licence, was almost twice the drink-drive limit - and the Citroen Saxo was not insured nor did it have a MoT certificate, a court heard.
He was jailed for nine years in January.
In victim impact statements given by Nathan’s family and used during the case, Nathan’s father Paul Rhodes described how his son “lived for football”.
He said: “From the first days he could kick a football I knew he had a special talent. I was so proud of him when he told me he was going to manage Stockton Football Club as well as play for them aged 22.”