Memorial football match to take place in tribute to Hartlepool fatal attack victim Mark Dixon

Gary Horton (left) and Mark Sickling with the Mark Dixon Memorial Cup. Picture by FRANK REID
Gary Horton (left) and Mark Sickling with the Mark Dixon Memorial Cup. Picture by FRANK REID

A much-loved dad who died in tragic circumstances will be remembered when a memorial football match is held this weekend.

The game on Sunday will see two former teams that Mark Dixon played for battle it out for the coveted memorial trophy.

It is set to become an annual event for married dad-of-one Mark, 32, who lost his life after being the victim of a one-punch attack in Hartlepool town centre last October.

Sunday’s event is being organised by Mark’s cousin and close friend Gary Horton, of the Belle Vue Old Boys side which Mark used to play for.

They will line up at Seaton Carew’s Hornby Park ground against Mark Sickling’s The Sports Bar who Mark also played for.

Gary hopes Mark’s six-year-old daughter Ella will kick the game off.

I hope he is looking down and shouting for the Belle Vue Old Boys

Mark’s cousin Gary Horton

A minutes’ silence will also be observed before the start of the game and balloons released into the sky.

Gary said there will be lots of good-natured banter between the teams but admitted emotions will also be running high.

He said: “I’m hoping for a good turnout from people and a good game.

“At the end of the day it is going to be emotional. I hope he is looking down and shouting for the Belle Vue Old Boys.”

Mark, who lived in Peterlee, went to play for The Sports Bar when Belle Vue Old Boys was forced to fold.

There has been a high level of interest from people willing to pull on their boots for both teams.

Mark Sickling said: “Mark was such a versatile player. He just enjoyed his football and it was a pleasure to have him in the team.

“We will remember Mark, he won’t be forgotten. If it had been one of the other lads he would have bene the first one with his boots on wanting to play.”

Sunday’s game starts at 11am but it is also a day for all the family with children’s entertainment in the cricket club.

It includes a princess tea party by A Bit of a Do, Skyline bouncy castle, Arnell Craftscope entertainments, Faces Galore face painting, disco, and Frozen characters.

Everyone is welcome and a charge of £5 to play football will go to Ella Dixon’s trust fund.