Each player at Sands United FC Doncaster bears the name of their ‘lost angel’ on their shirt and plays to support one and other through grief both on and off the pitch.
The club was founded by John Drury in partnership with stillbirth and neonatal death society, Sands, in tribute to his baby son Arthur – who sadly passed away in February 2018 at just five-hours-old.
Drury and his wife Grace knew that their son suffered from a heart defect in December 2017 but believed it would be operable. But when Arthur was born at 33 weeks, his mother was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia.
Sadly, Arthur suffered a cardiac arrest at just five-hours-old and sadly passed away.
“After the funeral we wanted to be active and do things in his honour, to help others,” Drury explained. “With the shared love of their children and the beautiful game, we hope, one by one, the men in the team can learn from one another and tell their story in their own time and when they feel ready.”
Drury has recruited 19 players and the team’s matches are of great significance, as every 90 minutes in the UK a baby dies shortly before, during or after birth.
“No-one deals with grief in the same way but together we can get through anything,” Drury said. “There’s a strong link in that a child dies every 90 minutes, the same length as a football game, which is a constant reminder.”
“Not a day went by or goes by when Arthur’s name isn’t mentioned. There isn’t a great deal in Doncaster to help people who have gone through the trauma of losing a child.”