Ballymena United tribute to fan who took ill at match and later died

Ballymena United
Ballymena United

Ballymena United Football Club has paid tribute to a fan who took ill at Saturday's Irish Cup match and later died.

Issuing the sad news to supporters on Saturday night, the Irish League club said 80-year-old Glenwherry man Tommy Matthews had followed his 'beloved' Sky Blues since the late 1950s.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we just received news that the gentleman who took unwell at today’s match has since passed away," a post on the Ballymena's Facebook page read.

Mr Matthews had been attending Ballymena's fifth-round tie against Moyola Park at The Showgorunds.

Special mention was given to club doctors Brian Patterson and Steven McCurdy, paramedics who happened to be watching the game, and the volunteers of the St John Ambulance. The club said they 'provided the highest level of attention to Mr Matthews but sadly their hard work was in vain'.

"The club wishes to pass on deepest and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Matthews," United added.

That sentiment was echoed by several Ballymena players offering their condolences on Twitter.

Defender Jim Ervin wrote: "Terrible news to hear tonight. Thoughts and prayers are with Tommy's friends and family. RIP."

Striker Johnny McMurray tweeted: "Horrible news ... Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends."

Centre-back Kyle Owens added: "Heart goes out to the family of the gentleman who passed away today ... thinking about the family circle #RIP."

Oran Kearney, manager of Coleraine FC, wrote: "Rest in peace, Tommy."