Football community pays heartfelt tributes to ‘talented and enthusiastic’ Will

William Hallett was a talented footballer that played for Horsham Sparrows
William Hallett was a talented footballer that played for Horsham Sparrows

The local football community has come together to pay heartfelt tributes after the tragic death of ‘talented and enthusiastic’ Horsham Sparrows player Will Hallett.

The 15-year-old and his grandfather Barry Hearnshaw, 72, died after a car and a train collided at the crossing in Emms Lane on Saturday morning.

William Hallett and Barry Hearnshaw

William Hallett and Barry Hearnshaw

Will, a student at Tanbridge House School, was well-know in sporting circles as an up-and-coming talent, who had played at Billingshurst Youth Football Club, before joining Horsham Sparrows in 2017.

The pair were reportedly heading to football on the morning of the tragedy and clubs and the Sussex FA have led tributes.

Will had made ten appearances for a Sparrows side that sit top of their division in the Horsham & District Youth Football League this season, scoring twice, and twice being awarded the player of the match.

Horsham Sparrows chairman, David Owen, said: “Will was a highly energetic player; he really loved his football and was an integral part of his team.

“He will be deeply missed by the Sparrows family, as will his grandfather Barry, who was a passionate supporter of the team and his grandson’s footballing career.”

A Sussex FA spokesman added: “It is with great sadness that the Sussex County FA were recently informed of the death of Horsham Sparrows under-16s player Will Hallett.

“The Sussex County FA would like to extend their thoughts and prayers to Will’s family, friends and team-mates at this very difficult and sad time.

“Fixtures taking place across the Horsham & District Youth Football League next weekend will hold a minutes silence or applause as mark of respect and to remember Will.”

Barry and Will were both avid Chelsea fans and an online petition has been set up to see them remembered by the Premier League outfit - it has reached more than 5,000 signatures in less than a day.

A minute’s silence was held on Saturday afternoon ahead a fixture between Barns Green, who Will had been heavily involved with, and Billingshurst in the West Sussex Football League.

Will’s former boyhood club Billingshurst added to the tributes. They said: “Everyone at the club send their heartfelt condolences to all Will Hallett’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“He was a talented player, who was very much liked by all his team-mates and coaches. All of our teams will take a moment and think of him before kick-off at this weekend’s games.”