THE sons of a life-long Kendal Town fan ordered a game to continue when their father collapsed and died in the stand at the ground he loved.
Spectator Dennis Hackney, 96, fell ill moments after the Mintcakes opened the scoring in their 2-1 victory over Padiham at Parkside Road on Tuesday night.
Paramedics, club committee members and passers-by battled to save Mr Hackney’s life as, at the request of his sons, the match continued.
Paying tribute to their father, who is believed to be Kendal’s oldest fan, Derrick and Roy Hackney told the Gazette: “He was a real character and everyone made a fuss of him at the club.
“The referee was prepared to cancel the match but we decided it should carry on because it is what he would have wanted.
“Although our father has died it couldn’t have been in a better situation with both of us there while he was watching Kendal Town.
“The paramedics said it could have happened if he was sitting in his bed at the care home so it was nice we were both with him and he was not alone.”
Roy went on to describe the moment he saw his father take ill and praised those involved in the fight to save him.
“He sat down, we exchanged a few words and then his head was on his chest,” he said.
“A couple of Padiham fans were passing including a first responder, and people from the club were also taking it in turns to help until the paramedics arrived. We can’t thank everyone enough for their efforts.”
Derrick, a director of estate agents Hackney and Leigh, said: “The medics were brilliant and very professional. Full credit must go to them and the club. Our father was in good health. He never smoked or drank and apart from a few problems later in life he was as fit as a fiddle.”
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Born in Newcastle in September, 1917, Mr Hackney moved to Grasmere in the 1920s where he later worked in forestry.
He moved to Kendal in 1947 where he set up a greengrocers and market garden, in what is now the Hackney and Leigh offices on Stricklandgate.
Following his semi-retirement, he ran a launderette on Longpool, Kendal, until he retired aged 70, said Derrick.
In retirement he and wife Marjorie enjoyed holidays to America and Tenerife before she died in 1997.
He stayed in his own home until November last year when he moved into Kendal Care Home, near Westmorland General Hospital.
Adrian Wheawall, unit leader at the care home, said: “He was a massive character here and will be sorely missed. He was a big friendly giant.”
Roy said: “Care homes get a lot of bad press but everyone here has been tip top and made our father very comfortable.”
The match referee at Kendal Town contacted league officials at half-time and was told it was up to Mr Hackney’s sons whether the game should continue.
Kendal Town secretary Craig Campbell, who was one of those involved in administering CPR to Mr Hackney before the paramedics arrived, said: “He always came into the boardroom and loved his cake and cup of tea.
“He may have been 96 but he was as a sharp as anything.
“He was a genuinely nice guy and will be missed by everyone at the club.
“We asked them if they wanted to abandon the match but they said straight away to carry on because that’s what he would have wanted.
“Former and current players have expressed their condolences, which shows what an impact he had on everybody.”
Mr Hackney also leaves four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His funeral has yet to be arranged.