It will be a hugely emotional occasion at Stratford Town on Saturday, when the club pay tribute to defender Cody Fisher, who was stabbed to death on Boxing Day.
One hundred children from St Gregory’s School in Stratford will walk round the pitch with Cody’s framed No 23 shirt before the game with Kings Langley.
After being held in the centre circle for the minute’s silence, the shirt is being retired by the Southern Premier League Central club.
There will also be applause when the game is stopped in the 23rd minute.
Cody, 23, attended St Gregory’s and worked there. Among those he coached was six-year-old Max McCrory, the son of Stratford chairman Jed McCrory.
Max wrote a beautiful note to Cody, which he laid outside Crane nightclub in Birmingham, where the fatal attack took place.
Kami Carpenter, 21, and Remy Gordon, 22, both from Birmingham, appeared at the city’s crown court on Monday, charged with Cody’s murder.
Since Boxing Day, Jed McCrory, 52, has been battling hard to keep it together, as seen by him breaking down during an interview with Sky News soon after Cody’s death.
Memories have come flooding back from 26 years ago, when one of his closest friends, Darrel Aebi, 32, was stabbed to death at a pub in the Luton area.
McCrory said: “He died in my hands. I was holding one of his hands and using my other one to try to stop his chest bleeding.
“There was a lovely nurse who told me to keep talking to him and I just begged him not to go — but he passed on me on the bonnet of the Volkswagen Golf.”
Spencer O’Shaughnessy was jailed for life at the Old Bailey, where McCrory gave evidence, in 1998 for the murder.
McCrory added: “Cody’s death has brought back horrific memories.
“I was in shock at how we’re still having the same crisis over knife crime.
“What you always noticed about Cody was his huge smile. He was always happy, I never saw him sad in over four years.
“He was a trained hairdresser. On training days and, in particular, on match days, he would pull up a chair and cut the boys’ hair. They all want to look crisp out on the pitch. He loved coaching young kids, he coached in three schools, St Gregory’s was the main one.
“He had such a lovely way about him and you could see him growing in the coaching world.
“He loved seeing people playing football — and he loved life. He had huge charisma.
“He had a girlfriend, Jess Chatwin, who is heartbroken. After all my time in football, I’ve become hardened, but this has hit me hard.
“Margaret Thatcher stamped out football hooliganism. I look at knife crime in our society, why can’t the Government sort this out? They took out the stop-and-search check and knife crime has soared.
“This is about people getting killed in our pubs and clubs, when they should be relaxing after working all week. I am talking as someone who witnessed it first hand.
“We’re still in the same position — and it is only going to get worse.
“I don’t blame the police because their powers have been taken away from them. We are relying on a CCTV policing system which says, ‘Don’t worry if you get killed, we’ll get your murderer’.
“They have to sentence killers hard — there has to be a deterrent.
“Instead of having this Rishi Sunak law, ‘Let’s have two more years doing maths’, get a grip, how about helping 12 and 13-year-olds integrate into society?”
This story first appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.