Football seems irrelevant
YOU CAN tell by the sound of his voice that Barry Lakin isn't looking forward to tomorrow's game at the Westbourne Stadium, writes Stephen McCartney.
The Heybridge Swifts' assistant manager knows all about Kent football during his spell as manager of Southern League Division One East outfit Erith & Belvedere earlier in the season before teaming up with Brian Statham at the Essex club at the end of January.
He knows what a popular character Paul Sykes was in this part of the world and has met the great man on a couple of occasions.
Although living in Chelmsford, Lakin keeps up to date with Kent football by logging onto www.kentishfootball.co.uk on a regular basis and that is where he read the tragic news of Sykes' death.
came into work pretty early on Wednesday morning, quickly looked to see what's
happening in Kent and then read the news. I went onto the Folkestone
website and was in shock.
"It just seems to be a numb kind of felling. You hear about these things happening but when you know someone it really brings everything into perspective with the arguments that supporters, managers and players have."
Lakin, who has one recent addition to the family, found the interview very difficult talking about their trip to Cheriton Road tomorrow. But the 31-year-old added: "It's going to be a very strange atmosphere. It's very hard to talk about it. I believe we are taking a lot of fans to Folkestone, as we did Tonbridge. There will be quite a few extra fans from our side but the game and the football seems irrelevant.
Lakin, like everyone involved in Kent football have been moved by the events of Tuesday night, and he added: "The tributes that Paul has had have been immense and I feel it has pulled all non-league clubs together and has shown the togetherness of Kent football."
Meanwhile, Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley has admitted if he could end their season now he would - with three league games left to play of their Ryman Premier League campaign.
"I have some days good and today has just hit home more, very, very sad. If you go over the ground and all the flowers and shirts there each day the piles get bigger. It's a very sad thing really.
"Obviously originally we weren't going to play, we agreed we wouldn't wear the 10 shirt when we did start playing again but when I spoke to Carly her request was from the family was they definitely wanted to play. Paul would no way want the game to be called off.
"We are going to turn up and do our best. It's going to be a very strange day.
"We try not to approach the game differently but it's going to be very difficult for the players they are completely devastated. To me, we'll get the game out of the way, if we win, great, if we lose, it don't matter. It's just a game, being the first one after the tragedy, we just want it out the way and get it done really.
"If you gave us the option now we'll just pack up. I think if this tragedy happened in September or October I wouldn't know how we would all have taken it. Personally I don't think I'd be able to carry on. I just think it's terrible really."
Folkestone Invicta v Heybridge Swifts
Ryman League Premier Division
Saturday 16th April 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Westbourne Stadium, Cheriton Road, Folkestone