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Graham McGuigan : Hundreds brave conditions for memorial game




Graham McGuigan Memorial Trophy
Graham McGuigan Memorial Trophy

More than 200 people braved driving snow to watch a football match played in honour of a firefighter who died following a brave fight against illness.

The Graham McGuigan Memorial Trophy, held on Sunday, was contested between a team of firefighters playing in blue - representing Newark Fire Station's Blue Watch, of which Graham was a member for his 20-year career with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service - and Warriors FC, the youth team where he was a coach.

The teams ahead of kick-off. 210118TV1-1
The teams ahead of kick-off. 210118TV1-1

It was organised by Graham’s friend Matt Ridyard, who said he had no doubt that the game would go ahead despite the snow settling on the Flowserve pitch at Balderton.

The crowd included on-duty firefighters from Newark and Collingham stations who arrived on their engines and were ready to attend any emergency should the call come in.

Players took to the field through a guard of honour made up of Warriors' junior players who linked hands before applauding.

They shook hands before a minute's silence was held before kick-off.

A yellow ball was used so it could be better seen in the snow.

Fire service crew manager Graham Picker, in blue, holds off the attention of Dean Sugden (left) and his brother Martin Picker. 210118TV1-18
Fire service crew manager Graham Picker, in blue, holds off the attention of Dean Sugden (left) and his brother Martin Picker. 210118TV1-18

The first goal of the game was scored by Matt, who beat the goalkeeper with a left-footed drive from distance that had the opposition 'keeper clutching at thin air.

It was a hotly-contested yet good-spirited match that saw the score yo-yo between the sides.

Watch manager Paul Allen takes a throw in for Blue Watch as on-duty colleagues look on. 210118TV1-11
Watch manager Paul Allen takes a throw in for Blue Watch as on-duty colleagues look on. 210118TV1-11

Retained firefighter Dennis Rhule hit a hat-trick for the Blues despite sustaining a training injury to his foot the day before.

Firefighter Scott Hutchinson, who served with Graham on Blue Watch, chases down the ball. 210118TV1-12
Firefighter Scott Hutchinson, who served with Graham on Blue Watch, chases down the ball. 210118TV1-12

All three of Graham's sons - Sully, Jed and Brady - were on the score-sheet as the Warriors ran out 6-4 winners.

Warriors captain Sully, Graham McGuigan's son, clashes with Blue Watch goalkeeper Gary Richmond. 210118TV1-16
Warriors captain Sully, Graham McGuigan's son, clashes with Blue Watch goalkeeper Gary Richmond. 210118TV1-16

Participation medals were presented by Graham's wife Lesley in an emotional conclusion to the match.

Trophies, including the shield, were presented by Graham's father John, himself a former fireman, who said that everyone deserved a medal for braving the snow to be there.

Speaking afterwards, Matt said he had promised Graham in his final days that his legacy would live on.

"This is for the big man upstairs," he said, pointing and lifting his head to the skies.

The event made money through stalls and a raffle for Graham's two chosen charities, The Fire Fighters Charity and the Children's Bereavement Centre.



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