Lee Collins

This weekend’s match against Southend United will be played in memory of former Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins, the club has confirmed.

Former Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins in action.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

In a statement on Thursday, the club confirmed that Lee’s family will be in attendance for the National League fixture at Huish Park with his daughters, Amelia, Laila, and Charlie-Mae, mascots for the game.

It added: “As ever, we ask supporters in the Thatchers Stand to hold aloft the Lee Collins banner as the players enter the pitch.

“Tributes to Lee will be paid before kick-off, so we ask supporters to be in their seats around 15 minutes before kick-off hope you join us in celebrating his life.”

The game is the closest home fixture to the first anniversary of Lee’s passing on March 31 last year.

Friends and colleagues of former Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins have called for “an extensive review” of support given to players.

An open letter sent to Maheta Molango, the recently-appointed chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), claims the players’ union has failed to respond to the rise in mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It calls for the PFA to fund wellbeing officers at all member clubs, improve aftercare for retiring players and to provide death-in-service benefits to all members, regardless of which league they play in, according to a report by Sky Sports.

Former Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins in action.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Lee, who made nearly 40 appearances in two years at Huish Park, was found dead in his hotel room in March and last month a coroner ruled the Glovers’ club captain had tragically taken his own life. He was 32 years old.

Today, a memorial match is being played between Congleton Town and an All-Stars team of one of Lee’s former clubs, Port Vale, at the North West Counties’ League side to celebrate his life and raise awareness of the issues of mental illness.

In the open letter, Lee’s friends and former colleagues call on the PFA to improve its support for players feeling the sport who “are being left to sink or swim in a world they do not have the qualifications or life experiences to survive in”  and appoint well-being officers at every League club.

It also said the surviving spouse of chosen beneficiary of any PFA member should  “receive 100% of their total PFA contributions and the death in service benefits will remain in place, irrelevant of which division they are competing in at the time of death.”

Sky Sports has spoken with Lee’s partner, Rachel Gibbons, who said: “They’re not these big fancy superstars that earn mega bucks, these are just regular guys.

“They could live next door to you. More needs to be done with those in particular. For Lee, he lived within his wage packet, so he didn’t have a big nest egg of savings to fall back on.

“Football in general needs to be more proactive in helping those footballers, rather than what they are at the moment which is reactive.

“What happened to Lee is the worst possible scenario and obviously everything has been reactive to that. If there’s things in place beforehand, be proactive – that’s what these footballers, these men need.”

In response to the open letter and the interview with Rachel, the PFA issued a statement saying: “Our thoughts remain with Lee’s family, friends and team-mates and we will continue to offer our support to all those affected by Lee’s passing.

“Professional football can be a challenging career and we have identified a wide range of football-specific areas that can adversely impact a player’s mental health. Career transition – whether through retirement, injury or release – is a particularly difficult time for players and their families.

“We are committed to continually improving our education and wellbeing support, which also includes evaluating the way football as a whole supports players.

“Any members who need support with their mental health, including issues both inside and outside of football, can contact us on our 24/7 helpline on 07500 000777 or at wellbeing@thepfa.com.

The proceeds of today’s match will go to Lee’s family and you can donate to the cause via a Crowdfunder page – here.

If you need to speak with someone, Somerset Mind has a 24/7 telephone hotline – call 01823 276 892.

Taunton Town have launched a raffle to raise funds for Young Minds, the mental health charity which Yeovil Town has partnered with in memory of former club captain, Lee Collins.

The Peacocks, who host Darren Sarll’s side in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday night, are charging a minimum entry donation of £2 with “some great prizes” on offer.

To donate visit: http://gofundme.com/lee-collins-charity-raffle

Former Yeovil Town forward and long time friend of Lee Collins, Marc Richards, has spoken to BBC Northampton about his friendship with Lee and his disbelief at receiving the news of Lee’s passing.

Speaking To Annabel Amos, Richards said; “I got a phone call from the Yeovil Town manager Darren Sarll, it’s a little bit of a haze, I can’t remember what he said, but I certainly remember how I felt. I was taken back, I didn’t want to believe it, it was really tough, it felt like I was in a bit of a daydream.”

Richards, and Collins played together at Huish Park during the 2019/20 season, but their relationship goes back further, something which Richards said makes the situation harder to come to terms with.

“I knew he had been struggling on and off. I know quite a lot of his history, I know what he’s been through, he’d been in positions before where, not so much that he was close to doing that sort of thing, but he had spoken to me about it previously. I was gutted he hadn’t reached out and felt like he could speak to me about what was going through his mind at the time.”

The Northampton Town coach spoke of how’d he’d been in contact with Lee just a few days before his tragic passing.

“I only spoke to him on the Saturday prior, everything seemed OK, I just wish I had probed more, because in that moment, you don’t because it seems fine.”

Collins passed away on 31 March and Richards admitted that he’s still coming to terms with the news.

“It really took me back, I don’t think I’ve really had time to process it to be honest. I’ve certainly not done the grieving I need to do. I know the lives that Lee touched throughout his career and throughout his life. Everyone that has ever met Lee, come across Lee as a player, as a person can say the same thing about him. No matter what football club he played for, he touched so many people’s hearts as well.”

Yeovil Town are leading the way with a Crowdfunder to support Lee’s family and the mental health charity Young Minds.

1621847889_2276858.jpgYeovil Town F.C. has today launched a Crowdfunder UK campaign to support the family of club captain, Lee Collins, following his tragic passing in April.

Collaborating with Collins’ former clubs, Yeovil Town F.C. are bringing the football family together across the UK to raise funds for Collins’ partner and young children and mental health charities, with 10% of the donations given to Young Minds.

Described as the ‘glue’ of the club at Yeovil, Collins also wore the captain’s armband at Northampton Town, Mansfield Town and Forest Green Rovers and played for teams across the English Football League (EFL) and National League including Wolverhampton Wanderers, Port Vale, Barnsley, and Shrewsbury Town.

Admired by all he played with at Yeovil and beyond, Collins set standards both on and off the pitch and will be remembered for his competitive attitude as well as his kind and caring nature.

Commenting on the campaign, Yeovil Town F.C.’s manager, Darren Sarll, said:

“Uniting the football family under one banner to create something special for the family of one of our own whilst supporting mental health charities in the UK is a huge objective of ours.

“Alongside Lee’s previous clubs and teammates, we have launched a fund to support the future aspirations of Lee’s daughters, Amelia, Laila and Charley-Mae and also raise money for the important work led by mental health charities across the nation.

“Yeovil is a family-centred club and Lee’s wonderful family, who have shown great strength during this extremely difficult time, will always have a home Huish Park. We’ll celebrating Lee’s life with all the Yeovil supporters during our match against Stockport County on 29 May and appreciate the unbelievable support we have seen over the past few weeks.”

Terry Skiverton gave a very honest assessment of how he’s been handling a tough season on and off the pitch at Huish Park.

When asked if the he was still enjoying his roles at the club, the club legend gave a very honest answer: “No, I’m not going to lie, it’s been probably my hardest time throughout my career at Yeovil.”

The club is still processing the shocking loss of Captain Lee Collins who passed away in March as well as trying to negotiate a behind-closed-doors season in a global pandemic.

“Because of what happened [Lee Collins’ passing] and my relationship with Lee within the squad, he was the Captain of the football club, he was number four, we shared the same shirt number, the same roles and responsibilities as a Captain, so no, it’s been really hard to come in every day and make sure we are upbeat and giving energy to the players.”

Skiverton acknowledged his role as a leader within the coaching staff and recognised that he had a part to play in getting his players, colleagues and supporters through a hard time.

“One thing that we do here, is make sure we come up to work, we arrive at work and make sure we are rocking and rolling, so the players know they have staff behind them ready to go. We are all in, we are going to turn up on a Saturday and try and get a result. They need to see that, feel that and they need to know that we are 100% behind them, alongside them, in front of them, and we are leading in the right way as well.”

There’s no doubt the events of the last month have taken their toll on everyone associated with Yeovil Town and it was refreshing to hear a club legend like Skiverton speak so honestly, and openly.

A page set up by Yeovil Town supporters to raise money for the family of the club’s late captain Lee Collins will stay open until the end of the season.

The JustGiving page set up by Simon Woodland of the club’s Disabled Supporters Association has already raised £6,282 with donations coming from across the world.

Supporters of many of Lee’s former clubs, including Northampton Town, Port Vale and Mansfield Town, have made generous donations.

Simon said: “The generosity from across the football family has been overwhelming.”

The page will remain open until the end of the season to give time for any further donations to be received.

You can find the JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/simon-woodland-47