Thatto Heath players dedicate cup win to ex-player whose sudden death rocked club (From St Helens Star)
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Thatto Heath players dedicate St Helens Cup win to Geoff Williams
3:00pm Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
Geoff Williams’ father, Reg, hands over the St Helens cup trophy to Thatto Heath skipper Kieron Maddocks
WHEN ex-amateur rugby league prop Geoff Williams died suddenly at the age of 41 this year, friends and former team-mates were left devastated.
So when Thatto Heath lifted the Hattons’ Solicitors St Helens Cup trophy at Langtree Park there were moments of joy mixed with poignancy.
Heath players dedicated the dramatic victory over Pilkington Recs to Geoff, who died in May from encephalitis, a swelling of the brain normally caused by an infection.
The players collected their medals and the trophy from his father, Reg Williams, who the club had invited as their guest of honour to the final.
Speaking afterwards, second row Mark Beech, 27, of Dentons Green, told the Star: “The last game Geoff actually played for us before retiring was a St Helens Cup final in 2009 at Knowsley Road.
“So with it being a final at Saints’ new stadium it just made it special – and a fitting tribute to him.”
Geoff, who grew up in Widnes and lived in Warrington, was married to Rachael and was dad to a stepson and four-year-old daughter. His death followed a short illness.
Mark added: “It all happened so quickly. I’d spoken to him a couple of weeks before he died and he phoned me saying he’d been suffering from headaches.
“I hadn’t heard from in a couple of days and then I got a phone call from one of his friends saying he was in a coma.
“Later we learned he’d passed away. It was very difficult to take. “One of our former players described hearing the news as like taking a kick to the stomach – and it was.
“Geoff was the life and soul of the party and he had a big heart. It was particularly tough for a lot of the older players, who are now retired, and many of them came along to the final.”
Later this month Mark will be among a six-strong squad of friends, who are cycling a 215-mile Trans Pennine Trail over three days.
The ride is in memory of Geoff Williams and will raise money for the Encephalitis Society. Already more than £2,700 has been pledged to the cause.