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Emotional day for family of club stalwart as football stand is unveiled in his memory

PUBLISHED: 17:56 14 July 2018 | UPDATED: 20:43 14 July 2018

The family of Gary Knights, Liam Hembling, Terry Smart, Kevin Hembling, Lyn Hembling and Carl Hembling at the opening of the memorial stand. Picture: Amy Smith.

The family of Gary Knights, Liam Hembling, Terry Smart, Kevin Hembling, Lyn Hembling and Carl Hembling at the opening of the memorial stand. Picture: Amy Smith.

Archant

The family of a Beccles man who devoted his life to a local football club have officially opened a new stand in his honour.

Carl and Liam Hembling unveiling the Gary Knights stand at the home of Beccles Caxton FC. Picture: Amy Smith.Carl and Liam Hembling unveiling the Gary Knights stand at the home of Beccles Caxton FC. Picture: Amy Smith.

Gary Knights died of cancer in 2013 aged 51 and had been involved with Caxton Football Club for many years, as a member of the social club committee, manager and also running the whole football section as chairman.

And when the club’s old stand at their Caxton Meadow ground in Beccles had to be demolished, a fundraising project was launched to build a new stand in his honour.

The stand was officially opened today by Mr Knights’ nephews Carl and Liam Hembling, who both play for Caxton FC.

The Beccles Caxton FC and Gary’s XI teams at the opening of the Gary Knights stand. Picture: Amy Smith.The Beccles Caxton FC and Gary’s XI teams at the opening of the Gary Knights stand. Picture: Amy Smith.

The emotional occasion tied in with the club’s annual Gary Knights memorial match, which is now in its third year.

Mr Knights’ partner Terry Smart said: “It’s so lovely, but it would have been even nicer if he was here to see it.

“He would be so proud.”

His sister Lyn Hembling added: “He put his life into the club, he was always here doing something.

“The fact that they have gone to so much effort for him, you just can’t express how nice it is.”

Fundraising for the stand started back in 2016, alongside a project to install a 3G pitch at the ground, with £23,000 needed for both to be completed.

Club chairman Buster Cooper and treasurer Mark Carter thanked everyone for their support, with a special mention to Gerry Martin who volunteered to do all the block work in his free time.

Mr Carter said it was an emotional occasion and a real milestone for the club.

“It has been really hard work, but seeing it finished now you realise it was all worth it,” he said.

The memorial match is usually played between Beccles Caxton FC and Lowestoft Town, however this year Caxton took on a special team, Gary’s XI, made up of friends and family.

The team wore shirts with ‘Knightsy’ written on the back, specially made for the match and paid for by friend Gary White.

The game finished with a 2-1 win to Gary’s XI, with Paul Heany named man of the match.

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