Football clubs across the country have joined in mourning the loss of former professional footballer turned coach Neil Matthews, who sadly passed away at the age of 56 earlier this week following his battle with cancer.
Including various loan spells, Matthews played for 12 different clubs during his time as a pro, with three of those being in Greater Manchester — Stockport County, Bolton Wanderers and Bury FC — before going on to become a youth coach after retiring in 2001.
Starting out his career in his hometown of Grimsby, he made 258 appearances, scoring 68 goals for his various clubs with his best returns coming for the likes of Halifax, County and Lincoln City.
Eventually becoming a hugely successful youth coach, helping countless young players to sign professional contracts and go on to play in the Premier League and throughout the footballing pyramid, numerous clubs were saddened to learn about the loss of this much-loved figure.
Matthews was reported to have died on Monday, 8 May, at which point a flood of tributes began pouring from his ex-clubs, fans and figures throughout the footballing world.
During his time at Edgeley Park, in particular, he was a popular figure who battle through injury problems to be part of the famous 1991 season, where he helped Stockport earn their first promotion in 20 years with numerous crucial goals in the Danny Bergara which spawned so many County fans.
As for his coaching career, he began plying his trade at Huddersfield Town as a youth coach for multiple age groups from 2003 until 2017. He then went on to join Bradford City in his most recent role and progressed to become the academy manager, helping spawn 15 for the club in a few short years.
Bradford CEO Ryan Sparks insisted that “Neil oversaw the production and development of some of the best academy players in the country, and has played a massive role in enhancing the club in recent years. He built an academy like no other in English football, and his legacy will live on through the many careers he helped start.”
Sparks went on to say: “Neil was a special person, who took immense pride in his work. He was one of the most selfless people I have ever met, who often put the football club and his colleagues before anything and anyone else.
“He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and worked with him. He was one of a kind, and his passing leaves a huge hole in the Bradford City family. The passion, care and dedication he brought to his work and our football club was truly remarkable.
“His spirit will be with us in the play-off fixtures… It goes without saying that yesterday’s result, which saw us finish in the playoffs for the first time in six years, was for Neil.”
It’s plain to see the impact he had on the clubs he played and coached for, not only as a professional but by all accounts a lovely person.
His former colleague Martin Drury, who worked under him at Bradford before joining Manchester United last summer, summed him up as “a man who gave people the best gift you can ask for: he believed in you and offered the opportunity.”
Bradford will be honouring Matthews by naming the 2023/24 Academy Player of the Year after him, with black armbands set to be worn for their League Two playoff semi-final against Carlisle and a minute’s applause in his memory. Similar displays will no doubt happen across a number of his old clubs.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.
Featured Image — Stockport County/Bradford City/Guiseley AFC
Manchester City fan gets treble tattoo before Champions League final
We’ve seen plenty of tattoos gone wrong down the years and even more football fans getting ahead themselves, but it must have taken a special kind of confidence for this Manchester City fan to get the treble tattooed on his body before the Champions League final has even been played.
Nevertheless, after yet another stellar domestic season and with two-time UCL winner Pep Guardiola at the helm, most fans, rivals and neutrals alike all think this is the year they’re going to lift their first Champions League — in fact, this man is certain of it.
The diehard City fan, simply known as Stuart on TikTok, shared multiple clips on his account on Tuesday, the first of which showed the treble tattoo in progress and has already had nearly 200,000 views in less than 24 hours.
Naturally, the comments underneath the videos are as you’d expect, with people remarking, “you’ve just made Inter win”, “he’s gonna regret that”, “RIP bro”, “pov: 2021” — the last CL final they qualified for and lost to Chelsea despite being heavy favourites — and so on.
However, responding to haters in the comments, Cityzen Stuart’s confidence looks to be unshakable, stating that it’s now “impossible” for them to lose and there’s “not a chance” Pep goes another yet without winning another Champions League.
Having already flown over to Turkey for the final in Istanbul this weekend, he shared a more recent video showing the tattoo in more detail, complete with full colour and shading.
Football fans are often superstitious (it’s such an unpredictable sport that it’s hard not to be) but it’s fair to say a lot of people are now worried he might have jinxed it, not to mention every single Red hoping that he has. For his sake, he better hope the footballing gods don’t take this kind of stuff into account.
This year’s final kicks off at 8pm on Saturday, 10 June and City fans everywhere will be hoping to Pep and co. lift the Champions League trophy in the club’s history and win a historic treble in the process.
They are already going to go down as one of the best squads ever assembled but, for many, this could see them held up there as the greatest of all time. The question is, can they take that final step?
Featured Image — @stuart1308 (via TikTok)/Comedy Central/UEFA
There’s a full day of FREE outdoor yoga classes happening in Manchester city centre this month
There’s a full day of free yoga classes taking over an outdoor amphitheatre in heart of Manchester city centre in a couple of weeks time.
As a way of marking the summer solstice and welcoming in the new season, all while suitably-celebrating International Yoga Day at the same time, Manchester‘s famed ‘Yogathon’ is returning to Great Northern Warehouse later this month with a whole host of free outdoor yoga sessions, and it’s giving Mancs the chance to “get on the mat and work on the mind”.
Taking over the amphitheatre outside the historic city centre warehouse, you can join in with a full day of yoga classes led by award-winning instructors from The Life Centre from morning through to evening.
Early birds can kick-start the day with Sun Salutations from 7:30am, which is perfectly-timed as the sun rises over the city on the longest day of the year, while a lively functional flow class will follow as the ideal way to spend your lunch hour from 12:30-1:15pm.
You can then close out the day and unwind after work with a fun and friendly Vinyasa class from 5:15-6pm.
Suitable for all ages and abilities to get involved with, each of the classes happening throughout the day are free of charge, and ultimately encourage Mancs to “treat your muscles and mind” and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of yoga in the great outdoors.
Yoga mats will be provided in the amphitheatre, but you should bring your own if you have one.
All proceeds from will go to Eat Well MCR to support people living in poverty across the city by delivering meals and providing much-needed respite during difficult times.
Yogathon 2023 is taking over the amphitheatre at Great Northern Warehouse, just off Deansgate in the heart of the city centre, on Wednesday 21 June from 7:30am right through to 6pm.