Rivals united to mark bereavement

Kidsgrove Athletic and Leek Town came together on Saturday to mark the passing of the father of Grove vice-chairman Ian Cooper in the run-up to their EVO-STIK League derby.

Fans, players and officials fell silent before taking part in a minute's applause at the Novus Stadium to celebrate the life of Tony Cooper.

In touching scenes filmed before kicking off in the 1-1 draw in EVO-STIK League South, the Cooper family were also presented with a commemorative club shirt dedicated to Tony following his sad passing at the start of last week.

Footage of the tribute was posted on YouTube before Ian Cooper and the club sent their thanks to everyone who took part on social media.

Using his Twitter account @Cooplan, the Grove vice-chairman and groundsman wrote: "Thank you to @KidsgroveAth and @leektown supporters for such a great tribute to my dad today. Massive thanks to the players for the commemorative shirt - touch of class."

On Monday @KidsgroveAth wrote: "Massive respect for @CoopIan, @ClareBalmer1, @janet_coops and of course Sandra Cooper, despite the toughest of weeks still managing the club, programme editing, pitch work, secretary, vice chairman and everything else. Thoughts with @sophiebalmerx also. Top family."

The Staffordshire rivals had to settle for a point each after a tight encounter saw Ant Malbon net an early opener for Grove before the Blues equalised with a free-kick from Dan Trickett-Smith who found the top corner with 15 minutes remaining.

Blues boss Neil Baker said afterwards: “It was an emotional day for both clubs and the Cooper family with Kidsgrove grabbing the incentive and wanting to win in Tony’s memory."

Images courtesy of YouTube & @KidsgroveAth/Twitter

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