Thursday 01st September 2005

Tributes to Paul Sykes 08.11.1976 - 12.04.2005

PAUL SYKES' death on Tuesday night has not only touched Kent football but the entire country.

Every time Folkestone Invicta play I receive a text message of their result and scorers from Richard Murrill.  Unfortunately on Tuesday night I didn't receive one.  But at around 10:30pm I got a very emotional telephone call from Richard telling me of the tragic news.

Although I didn't know Paul personally, I have seen him play many times for both Dartford and Folkestone Invicta this season and his death has not only numbed Kent football but as you read the Folkestone Invicta website this tragedy has moved hundreds of people up and down this country.

This website was one of the first to break the news late on Tuesday night.  We have received several tributes and this page is dedicated to a man that touched the hearts of so many people.

Stephen McCartney


One of the most popular characters in Kent Football has sadly died tonight (Tuesday).

Folkestone Invicta striker Paul Sykes, 28, collapsed on the pitch during their Kent Senior Cup semi-final tie against his former club Margate.

Despite the efforts of both club's physio's and medical staff, who all administered treatment on the pitch, after he collapsed after around 30 minutes into tonight's delayed match, he was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, where he was pronounced dead at around 10pm.

We would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Folkestone Invicta Football Club will be issuing a statement during Wednesday.

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley told BBC Radio Kent on Wednesday morning: "He went running out of the penalty box and fell backwards.

"Everyone though he was messing about because he didn't mind a bit of play-acting and messing about.

"It took people a few seconds to realise there was something very wrong.

"The ambulance was there within minutes, but when he got to hospital he was pronounced dead.

"He will be sadly missed."

Dover Athletic Football Club issued a statement late on Tuesday night on their website.  It read:

Dover Athletic are tonight saddened by the news that Folkestone Invicta striker and ex-Whites star Paul Sykes has passed away at the age of 28.  Paul, who also played for Margate, Gillingham and Dartford during his career, collapsed after half an hour during Folkestone's Kent Senior Cup semi-final against Margate on Tuesday night. He was taken to William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, and it has been confirmed that he has passed away. Our thoughts at this moment go to the family of Paul, who will always be fondly remembered not just at Dover Athletic but throughout Kent football.

Then on Wednesday, as people listened to BBC Radio Kent and read this website, we started to receive tributes from players, supporters, managers and club's issued statements on their websites.

Steve Marriner:

I played with Syko at Dartford and I am safe to say that you could not have wished to meet and play alongside a better bloke.  The news of his passing can't be put into words. I will miss him very much and pass my love and best wishes to his family and friends.

Statement issued by Dartford Football Club:

It is with extreme sadness that we must report the tragic death tonight of former player Paul Sykes. Paul who was 28 was playing for Folkestone Invicta in their Kent Senior cup tie against one of his former clubs Margate when he collapsed thirty minutes into the game. Efforts by the medical teams from both clubs were made to try to revive Paul whilst awaiting for the arrival of an ambulance. Paul was taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford but he was pronounced dead at 10.00pm.

Paul became a very popular player in his two spells with the Darts and I am sure I speak for everybody connected with the club in sending our condolences to Paul's family and his friends on his sad loss.

I understand a full statement will be issue by Folkestone Invicta on Wednesday.

Statement issued by Margate Football Club:

All at Margate Football Club have been left shocked and distraught by the sudden and untimely death of Paul Sykes. Our deepest sympathies go out to Paul’s family and friends at this terrible time.

During his time at Margate, Paul was a much loved member of the team and a hugely admired player. It was mainly due to Paul’s formidable partnership with Phil Collins that the Club made it into the Conference National division, he is and will remain one of Margate’s true heroes.

After discussion with the Kent County Football Association, Folkestone Invicta and Dover Athletic, it has been decided that the Final of the Kent Senior Cup will go ahead in memory of Paul Sykes. The match will be between Margate and Dover Athletic and will take place at the Westbourne Stadium on Monday 02 May 2005. All proceeds from the game will go to Paul’s family. Some of the Folkestone Invicta squad may also feature in the Margate team.

We hope to see you all there on 02 May to make the day truly memorable.

Statement issued by Gillingham Football Club:

Gillingham Football Club was saddened to hear of the death of former youth team player Paul Sykes last night.

Paul, just 28, collapsed 30 minutes into Folkestone Invicta's Kent Senior Cup semi-final against Margate.

Attempts to revive him at Folkestone's Westbourne Stadium failed and he was rushed to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital where he died.

Paul was a happy-go-lucky lad with a tremendous sense of humour and a dedicated footballer.  A regular marksman for the youth team he also scored seven goals in the final five reserve team games of the 1994-95 season.

As a mark of respect the club will be holding a minutes silence in memory of Paul at this Saturday's game with Crewe Alexandra at Priestfield.

Everybody at the club would like to pass on their sincere condolences to his family at this sad time.

Dave Thomas - Dartford FC Supporter:

Words, for once, almost escape me.  A friend of mine just called to pass on the tragic news, and I honestly feel numb.  I just feel so helplessly sorry for his wife Carly and their little son Thomas.

Syko was a really top man.  His personality was such that anyone who had met him could not fail to like him.  He always had the time to chat and socialise with the fans.

On the pitch he was always a totally committed player, and that made himself so popular with the fans for all the clubs he played for.  He is a truly great loss to Kentish Football.

It is players like Syko who make non-league football so great.

God bless you Paul, Carly and Thomas

Mike Green - BBC Radio Kent:

I was supposed to be sitting here at my desk in the City this morning writing a report on the supposed Kent League title decider that was played last night for this website. 

I was supposed to be writing how Jason Lillis’ Herne Bay had blown the title race wide open with a 3-1 victory over leaders Ramsgate!  I was supposed to be describing a magnificent midfield performance by Sam Denly and two wonder goals from Richard Sinden… but I cant!

The events at Cheriton Road last night have cast a huge shadow over the rest of the Kent football season!  And at the moment Saturday’s Radio Kent “assignment” at the vital Tonbridge Dover relegation battle has gone from top of the list to promising to be a very very difficult afternoon for everyone concerned… 

Now doesn’t that put things into context?  “Vital” relegation battle?  “Difficult” for me?  Last night a footballer I am privileged to have called a friend died doing what he loved more than most things in this world – playing football – and I’m using the word “vital” to describe 22 men running around a field after a white piece of leather! 

I first met Paul Sykes not long after I began watching Kent Non League football on a regular basis some nine or ten seasons ago.  At first I thought he was “my type” of centre forward – tough and rugged, no quarter asked, non-given!  And that in essence is what he was – a striker who wore his heart on his sleeve and gave 110 percent every single time he pulled on that Margate, Dover, Dartford or Folkestone shirt.  I think that’s probably why so many people appreciated him.  I’ve always put him in the same category as Mark Hughes or Bryan Robson – as an opposition fan, he’s the first person that you “pick on” because of his brashness and his supposed arrogance I suppose you’d call it.  

But if he was playing for your side, he was one of the heroes – the focal point of the side; the one who’d wind others up if things were going against you and pull people along if things went your way.

Yet everyone who came into contact with him off the pitch was touched by not only his friendship and personality, but it was only when you spent any amount of time in his company that you realised just how many people the guy actually knew!  And he always had time for them!  That was another thing about Syko – he’d always turn up in the most unexpected places because he loved his football and as I found out one day at the St Lawrence ground in Canterbury, his cricket too…  Indeed a claim to “fame” that Matt Gerrard (a fellow “voice” from the Radio Kent Sports team) has is either taking Paul’s middle stump or losing his own – somehow that story always depended on who you spoke to!

The most success he enjoyed playing football undoubtedly came in what can best be described as the “Glory Years” at Hartsdown Park when he wore the Margate shirt with so much pride.  As a goalscorer on his day there were none better and the partnership that he and Martin Buglione shared was only surpassed by the partnership that he shared with Phil Collins.  And it was that partnership that took Margate into the Conference as Southern League Champions.  Indeed in subsequent conversations with Margate boss Chris Kinnear, he held that Sykes and Collins partnership as one of the best he’s ever worked with, and Chris has often bemoaned one certain fateful day at Hartsdown Park.  And I remember only too well being there that day.  The day that Paul was carried from the pitch on a stretcher screaming in pain after suffering a horrendous knee injury.  It was an injury that I think in hindsight he never really 100 percent recovered from, as he became a journeyman of Kent football.  The only “blessing” now is that more people had the privilege of calling Syko (a natural and loved nickname) one of their own…

Coming so soon after the loss of Alan Lancaster, Kent football is reeling again, but at “least” Alan had had a good innings…  Whilst I was walking between the station and the office this morning (it was raining which summed up the mood I feel rather well) I couldn’t help but think that all four of his clubs should call off their games this weekend as a mark of respect.  But then again, that’s not what Paul would have wanted because as I’ve said before he lived for his football, as he told me one night at Crabble.  It was in his Margate days and it was a cold bleak Tuesday night.  “What are you doing here?” enquired I?  “You know me Greenie, it’s something to do!” 

After being released by the Gills, you could have excused him if his attitude to the club would have been cold.  But few people I actually think realised how much of a closet Gills fan he was, as he was always asking me for the latest at Priestfield, and that’s probably one of the reasons that we got on so well…  

I kept threatening to actually “drag” him to the Rainham End on midweek, just to see if he was the same off the pitch in the stands.  I thought that it would be worth paying the admittance money on its own for – that ticket I’m sorry to say was never bought!

Can’t help thinking that this Wednesday morning the world is a less jolly place to be…  Its at times like these that you do just wonder where in the scheme of things our great game does in fact sit – probably somewhere very close to the bottom!

The last time I saw Paul, we said that we’d go out for a beer one night and right the wrongs of Kent football.  That drink never happened…

People will say that his former clubs should “postpone” their fixtures this weekend as a mark of respect.  Somehow I don’t feel that that would be what Paul would have liked.  The best tribute that all of his sides, and you can include the Gills in that too, is to go out on Saturday afternoon and absolutely blitz their opponents…  That’s how my friend would like to be best remembered!

Thanks for the memories Syko…  and my sincere condolences to Carly and the rest of the family – your loss is felt by an awful lot of people this morning.  Undoubtedly he was one of a kind!

Tony Burman - Dartford FC Manager:

On behalf of all the players and myself may we take this opportunity to offer our deepest sympathies to Paul's family for this tragic loss.

Paul was a very popular character, with the players' and our supporters.  He always gave 100% and it was an honour for this club to have such an experienced professional playing for our team.

This is a very sad day for everybody involved with football in Kent and puts many things into perspective.

Once again may we offer our sincere condolences to Paul's family and friends.

On behalf of Tony Burman and all the players and staff at Dartford Football Club.

Mark Jenner - Ashford Town FC Chief Executive:

Having witnessed the tragic event on Tuesday night at the Folkestone v Margate Kent Senior Cup semi final where Paul Sykes collapsed during the game and subsequently died, I would like to extend the condolences of this club and its supporters to Paul’s family and to the players and officials at Folkestone.  Everyone present was deeply shocked in the immediate aftermath and will never forget what turned out to be a very sad evening.  Paul was a lively character with a great sense of humour as well as being a talented footballer who will be greatly missed.  Some things are more important than football, we just forget that sometimes.

Everyone at the Homelands today, and all associated with Ashford Town Football Club respectfully offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Paul Sykes, whose young life was cut so tragically short on Tuesday 12th April whilst playing the game that we all love.

Many people, not just in Kent but up and down England, have paid their tributes on  including referee Ian Crouch:

I have refereed Paul on a few occasions and whilst he liked to give a bit during the game he always had a hand shake and a wry smile for me at the final whistle...Paul RIP

Then around lunchtime, Folkestone Invicta agreed that Margate should receive a walkover to reach the final of this season's John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup Final, where they meet Dover Athletic in the Final.  The final on May Bank Holiday, 2nd May will take place at Folkestone Invicta's Westbourne Stadium in Cheriton Road and all proceeds will go to Paul's family and will give an opportunity for all Kent fans to celebrate Paul's life.

Folkestone Invicta have allowed Margate a walkover into the Kent Senior Cup Final, as Margate were leading 1-0 in the semi-final with Rocky Baptiste's 20th minute goal before the game was sadly abandoned.

The final will be between Dover Athletic and Margate, taking place at the Westbourne Stadium, Cheriton Road, Folkestone on Monday 2nd May.

All proceeds will go to the family of Paul Sykes, who died at the age of 28 on Tuesday night.
Keith Masters, chief executive of the Kent Football Association said: "Folkestone Invicta have expressed a desire that they don't want to replay the game, they've conceeded it to Margate. So what we've agreed is Margate will play Dover Athletic and that will be played at Cheriton Road, Folkestone, May Day Bank Holiday, May 2nd.

"Whilst it will still be the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup Final it will also be played as a memorial to Paul Sykes, and we've all agreed that the net proceeds from the game will be donated to his young family to try and assist them through this difficult time."

Both Folkestone Invicta and Margate, the two side's involved in last night's game, are considering postponing their matches this weekend as a mark  of respect.  Margate will gather their players tonight where they will discuss what they want to do, but Folkestone boss Neil Cugley, speaking earlier this morning, said football is the last thing on his mind.

"I am a Folkestone lad and I just don't think I can look at that ground really in the same way.  We've got a game Saturday, obviously I'd like to get hold of Paul's mum and see if they want us to play or not play and things like that really.  At the end of the day football will go on and football will carry on at Folkestone it always will but it's important all the club's he's played for and played against all pull together and help the family now, that's the main thing." 

Folkestone Invicta FC issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon.  It read:

KENT football was mourning the loss of one of its great characters as Folkestone Invicta striker Paul Sykes tragically died on Tuesday night after collapsing on the pitch during the club’s Kent Senior Cup semi final tie against Margate.

Sykes, just 28 years old, received treatment on the pitch from respective physios Dave Williams (Folkestone Invicta) and John Griffin (Margate) after he had stopped breathing and paramedic staff also did their best to revive him on the pitch before he was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where he was later pronounced dead.

Sykes leaves a wife Carly and young son Thomas, born in July 2004.

Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley paid tribute to the striker. “We are all obviously distraught and this is a time when any worries about football become irrelevant as all our thoughts go out to Paul’s family and closest friends.

"They are the ones that matter, football and football clubs will go on but this is a time when everybody needs to rally around Paul’s family and friends.

"Football is a competitive game and it is not always the nicest business to be involved in but it is at times such as this that the football world has shown what a kind and considerate world it can be with all the tributes we have received from other clubs about Paul.

"Everybody knows what a great character Paul was to have around, he was a player who always gave 100% and his infectious personality shone both on and off the field. He livened up the dressing room and the crowd and although a very competitive player he was always one of the first to shake hands after the game and enjoy a drink with both team mates and opponents. He will be sadly missed.”

Margate manager Chris Kinnear added his thoughts on the players whose goals helped to take Margate to the Dr Martens League Premier Division championship in 2000-01 and with it promotion to the Conference.

“I think that Paul played the best football of his career at Margate and his partnership with Phil Collins at the time was unstoppable," he said.

"They both had power and pace and both could score goals. I had only been talking to Paul about that before Tuesday night’s game.

"Paul did very well for us here and his time at the club only came to an end when he smashed his knee in a game against Bath City.

"Sometimes Paul was his own biggest critic as he wanted to be as good as he could make himself and that sometimes held him back, but in other ways made him better. He was a good lad. This is a tragedy.”

Invicta chairman Bob Dix also paid tribute to the player. “Paul approached the club during November when he knew that we were looking for strikers and said that he would like to come and play for us," he said.

"Unlike many players these days he didn’t ask about money and was prepared to play just for travelling expenses, which showed just the type of person he was. Very genuine.

"Unfortunately nowadays you don’t get that type of attitude in footballers or in other walks of life.

"His primary objective was playing football and helping to take the club forward which is what he did. I haven’t known him as long as some people in the game but had known him when he joined us on loan when Tim Hulme was the manager back in the mid 1990s and was pleased to see him back. He will be sadly missed by the club.”

Police have said that there were no suspicious circumstances into the death but that the coroner would be informed.

Invicta manager Neil Cugley, reserve team manager Micky Dix and KCFA Chairman Keith Masters had all travelled to the hospital and there were emotional scenes as the ground as news came through of his sad death as players and officials from both clubs struggled to come to terms with the tragic news.

Sykes had been a popular player with both clubs and few could take in what they were being asked to cope with.

The striker had always been the life and soul of the party and had been his usual jovial self on Tuesday night as he shared his usual laugh and joke with supporters and players and officials of both sides such as his long-time friend Kevin Raine, assistant manager at Margate.

The kick off had been delayed for 35 minutes due to an accident on the M20 and Sykes collapsed after about 23 minutes, shortly after Margate had opened the scoring through Rocky Baptiste. The game was subsequently abandoned.

This was a night which firmly put football’s rivalries into perspective and tributes to Sykes have been pouring into the Folkestone Invicta website from a variety of clubs, some of which are not even in Invicta’s league, all united in their grief and sense of shock.

Sykes joined Invicta in November 2004 from Dartford. Originally an apprentice at Gillingham, Paul then made his name at then Conference club Welling United. He joined Margate during the 1995/96 season and soon established himself as the club’s leading goalscorer as he was a member of Chris Kinnear’s side which won promotion from the Dr Martens League Southern Division and then won the Premier Division in 2000-01.  After recovering from some serious ankle and knee injuries he joined Dartford during the 2002-03 season and subsequently had a spell with Dover Athletic before returning to Tommy Sampson’s Darts. He also had a spell on loan at Invicta midway through the 1995-96 season.

 In total he made 24 appearances for Invicta, with a further three as substitute, scoring four goals.

Folkestone Invicta club officials were meeting on Wednesday morning. The club is due to play at home to Heybridge Swifts in the Ryman Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

Keith Masters, chief executive of the Kent Football Association added: "Folkestone Invicta have expressed a desire that they don't want to replay the game, they've conceeded it to Margate. So what we've agreed is Margate will play Dover Athletic and that will be played at Cheriton Road, Folkestone, May Day Bank Holiday, May 2nd.

"Whilst it will still be the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup Final it will also be played as a memorial to Paul Sykes, and we've all agreed that the net proceeds from the game will be donated to his young family to try and assist them through this difficult time."

Folkestone Invicta then decided their home game with Heybridge Swifts on Saturday will go ahead.

After consultations between Folkestone Invicta FC and the Sykes family, Saturday's home game with Heybridge Swifts will go ahead as planned.  There will obviously be a minute's silence before the game.

Invicta will be withdrawing the number ten shirt worn by Paul Sykes until further notice.

Paul Sykes' funeral will take place at St Andrews Church in Buckland, Dover at 1:30pm on Friday 22nd April, followed by Barham Crematorium at 2:30pm.  Family flowers only.

Invicta have confirmed they have pulled out of the Kent Senior Cup as a result of Tuesday night's events and Margate will now meet Dover Athletic in the final at Invicta's Westbourne Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd, kicking off at 3pm.

All proceeds from the game both through the turnstiles and any raffle money will go to Paul's family.

We received more tributes on Thursday morning:

Lee Patterson - East Thurrock United FC Manager:

I am deeply sorry to hear such distressing news about Paul, he played against us for Dartford earlier in the season at Rookery Hill, and seemed quite a character. May I send my deepest sympathy's to Paul's family and friends.

Matt Burgess - Dartford Supporter:

I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to Paul's wife Carly and son Thomas and to all of his family and friends.
Paul was a fantastic bloke who loved the game of football and has passed away far sooner than he should've done.
He was not only a great player but also a real character in the game always laughing and joking with the supporters both home and away as well as having a bit of banter with the referee's and his opposition.
Paul seemed to be the type of person that was always playing practical jokes on people and would never give up during a game, always giving 110% no matter what the score. He would cover every single inch of grass on the pitch and would still play on even if carrying an injury. He was the type of player that you could always rely on to lift his teammates when things were going bad but would also praise them and give them a gee up when things were going well.
Paul always had time for the younger players at Dartford and would coach them whilst out on the pitch to help them along.
He was and still is thought of very highly and he will always have a lot of respect from everyone involved with Dartford Football Club and he will certainly be sorely missed.
Paul (Syko) Sykes GOD BLESS & R.I.P.

Trevor Burgess - Dartford supporter:

My memories of Paul as remembered by a Darts fan of over 50 years and as posted on our un-official website.
My deepest sympathies go to Carly, son Thomas and family members on the loss of Paul.

Never giving less than 100%, playing in all positions as the need arose, turning out if needed whilst not fully fit, his loyalty to The Darts was never in doubt and his rapport with the fans was second to none.

The joker on and off the field, but he was always concentrating on the game, looking to score at every opportunity, but would also constantly be running back to help out the defense.

At times Syko was Psycho, hard but rarely dirty, never lacking in telling the referee that he had got the decision wrong, as many a yellow card or occasional red card would show.

A true footballer one of the friendliest and most loyal players I have seen in over 50 years of supporting Dartford.


Martin Challis - Dartford supporter:

I am deeply saddened by this sad and tragic news.

Paul Sykes was exactly the kind of player I hold close to my heart. He was such a diamond geezer and on the few occasions I was lucky enough to converse with him I could only warm to the guy and be attracted to his charismatic personality.

I have to admit that the fact I follow Dartford Football Club so avidly today is largely due to Paul Sykes being on loan at DFC back in 2002. When I watched that 4-0 home win against Corby , I think he may have scored two goals, I was brought back into the family of DFC, captured by the fighting spirit shown during the game.

Here is a small tribute I wrote at the end of the 2003-04 season:

Paul Sykes

Affectionately known as 'Syko', Paul Sykes is enjoying his second spell at the club. Paul was with the club during a two month loan spell in the middle of last season and did enough in that time to become a real hero with the Dartford faithful. It was met with much anticipation when DFC fans heard the news that Paul Sykes had not only been signed by DFC for the 2003-04 season, but he had indeed signed a contract for the year.

Syko is first and foremost a striker. He is a very tenacious forward and loves to hunt the ball down. He certainly has an eye for goal and although he has had a modest return of around 10 goals this season, when he scores them, they are often spectacular. Few people that went to the away game at Burgess Hill Town will forget his fantastic winner, into the top corner from 25 yards - bang!

More recently Syko has filled in in midfield, centre back and even spent a game between the sticks after the goalie had to go off injured in the starting seconds of the match away to Erith and Belvedere.

It was in this game that Syko broke some ribs. Many thought he would be out for weeks but, in true Syko style, he soldiered on and was back in his familiar striking role within a couple of games. This is what makes Syko a real favourite with the fans, his determined attitude. An attitude that befits a club striving constantly to live to fight another day.

The final word that has to be said about Syko is his rapport with the fans and his team mates. He always plays the game with a smile on his face, always ready to crack a joke at a corner, or on the way off at half time. He never forgets to applaud the support the fans give. Every successful team has a Syko, his influence on his fellow players and his desire to win and indeed entertain.

We all live in hope that Syko will stay on for next season, a Dartford player through and through!

May I offer my sincere condolences to his family.

I only hope us Dartford fans turn out in numbers at Cheriton Road on the 2nd May, arm in arm, hand in hand with Folkestone, Margate and Dover fans, united in respect and admiration for a wonderful man that dared to do his best in a cruel, cruel world.


On Thursday 15th April, Neil Cugley, the manager of Folkestone Invicta Football Club issued the following statement:

Dear Friend,

I am sure you will by now be aware of the tragic death of Paul Sykes while playing for Folkestone Invicta against Margate in the semi final of the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday evening.

Needless to say we here at Invicta are totally devastated and immediately withdrew from the competition.
But we do have the honour of staging the final between Dover Athletic and Margate at the Westbourne Stadium, Cheriton Road, on May 2 when all proceeds will go to Paul's wife Carly, and their young son, Thomas.

Syko, as you may well know was one of the bubbliest, sparkiest characters in Kent football, having had spells with Gillingham, Welling United, Margate, Dover Athletic, Herne Bay and Folkestone Invicta.

He had only been with us a matter of months, but it was our privilege to have him playing for us and to get to know him during that time.

Tributes to him have been pouring in and are already well into the hundreds. He had an almost unique rapport with the fans either of his own side, or the opposition and, from the tributes received, was clearly tremendously
popular in and around the county and much further afield as someone who played the game hard but was the first to share a laugh and a joke afterwards.

We want to make the Kent Senior Cup Final a day to remember for his family and hope that as many players, former players, club officials and supporters will come along to the game which could be as much a celebration
of Kent football as a celebration of Paul's tragically all too short life.

Anything you can do to promote and publicise this event will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

* ONE of Carly Sykes' first reactions to the tragic news was to ask: "What I am going to tell Thomas happened to his father when he gets older?" 

Any newspapers or TV stations who have pictures/film of Paul are asked to contact Mick Cork at the Folkestone Herald (01303 851651) - email who will be collecting them for passing on to the family in due course.


Today's (14th April) post mortem into the death of Paul Sykes has proved to be 'inconclusive' and further analysis is required.

An inquest into Paul's death will be held at Ashford's Magistrates Court on Wednesday April 20th.

On the eve of the funeral Margate manager Chris Kinnear and his assistant Kevin Raine shared their memories of Paul Sykes:

Football strikers are remembered by the goals they scored. Great strikers are also remembered by the striking partnership that they developed. Paul not only scored goals but developed successful partnerships with three players, Martin Buglioni, Phil Collins, and Leon Braithwaite, all of different style. Buggsy was an out and out goal poacher, Leon had pace, and PC had strength and power like Paul. Thus Paul can be truly described as one of the great Margate strikers of all time.

He arrived from Gillingham, via a short stay at Welling, to partner the prolific Martin Buglioni and soon developed a great understanding. His strong physical play and excellent aerial ability provided many goalscoring opportunities for himself and Buggsy. The highlight of that partnership should have been that match against Fulham live on SKY. Unfortunately Buggsy was injured early on. Paul went on to play his part in a memorable match and even had a great opportunity to equalise late on, but his first touch let him down. A trademark shaking of the head followed. Late on in his Margate career he made great use of his skills as a target man to fashion goals for the speedy Leon Braithwaite before he suffered cruciate ligament damage. The arrival of Phil Collins saw Paul develop what was undoubtedly the most prolific and fearsome partnership in the Southern League, both players possessed pace, power and excellent aerial ability. 

The pair announced their arrival in the Premier Division on the opening day of the 1999-2000 season at Worcester City. Worcester were the pre season favourites for the Championship but by 3.15 pm Paul and Phil had destroyed their defence by scoring three goals, each creating the others goals. That match and in particular those first fifteen minutes will always be remembered as one of the greatest performances ever by a pair of Margate strikers.

Paul was a great team player, when he wasn’t scoring or setting up goals, he worked tirelessly defending from the front and helped relieve pressure at defending corners by winning vital headers. His contribution in the atmosphere in the dressing room was second to none where his larger life character could always be found recounting some tale or another. 

Paul was his own greatest critic. When his touch let him down or he missed a chance to score he could be seen running back whilst shaking his head constantly. A run of games with out a goal played on his mind and he would begin to question his own ability. On one occasion, away at Newport County, he was so disgusted with his own performance that he locked himself in the toilet at half time and refused to come out for the second half!!

He loved to hold an audience, as any one who has been on one of the golf days that Paul organised will testify. He loved to play to the crowd as any one who has witnessed his goal celebrations will testify. His untimely death has stunned us both and we would like to express our deepest sympathy to Carly, Thomas and Paul’s family. He will be sadly missed, but he passed away in typical Psycho style …………………….

Chris and Kevin


Pay your tributes on the Folkestone Invicta FC website

I would like to thank everyone for all their kind words to such a great man - the same age as me, 28.  I'd like to thank Richard Murrill from Folkestone Invicta Football Club for his assistance and professionalism during which is a very difficult time for everybody concerned.  Our thoughts go out to Carly, Thomas and their family and close friends.

Stephen McCartney