A TRIBUTE night in memory of a much-loved goalkeeper is being backed by an FA Cup winner.
Hundreds of people will gather to remember Dale Roberts, who died suddenly aged just 24 in December last year, at the Woodcutter Pub, in Kingsley Avenue, Hartlepool.
Manchester City’s Adam Johnson had been best friends with Dale since they were 10 and has put himself forward to be ambassador of the Dale Roberts Memorial Trust.
Fresh from winning the FA Cup on Saturday, the 23-year-old is backing the event on June 11 by donating a signed City shirt to be auctioned on the night.
Dale’s mum Isabel, 59, who lives in Horden with husband George, 61, said: “I’m pleased that people are willing to keep my son’s name alive.
“Family and friends will be coming to support it and the proceeds will go to the things that Dale loved, like football courses.
“If the fund grows and grows anything is possible.
“The sky’s the limit.
“There’s a lot of people supporting this cause to remember Dale and help others. A lot of people cared about him.
“Dale was so well liked all over the country, if only he had realised that.”
The event has been organised by David Cairns, who was teaching a member of Dale’s family when the Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper was found hanging at his home in Northamptonshire. Police ruled out any suspicious circumstances.
David, a teacher from Nuthatch Close, Bishop Cuthbert, is manager of the Woodcutter’s football team and said the tragic event made him want to do something to recognise Dale’s love of the game he and his friends enjoy so much.
The 24-year-old is also hoping to change the name of the cup his Sunday league team compete in to the Dale Roberts Memorial Trophy.
David said: “Dale loved football and so do we.
“Football brings people together and gets everyone enjoying themselves. That’s really important.
“All walks of life that perhaps would not speak to each other come together to play or watch football. It’s a real community sport.
“We all come back to the pub on a Sunday after a match and have a laugh. It’s like a little family.”
Isabel added: “The message we want to get across is football is a team effort, we are all world beaters when we’re in a team.
“It’s the same for life, people need to know that there are those that care about them and who are there for them if they need it.”
The night will feature live music from three bands provided by Hartlepool charity Red Dreams along with a host of fundraising games and auctions.
Tickets for the night, which begins at 7pm, are £5 and are available from the Woodcutter or by ringing (01429) 272826.