Memorial tournament held on Fisbury pitch where former West Ham footballer died

The winning team with Ben Cole third from back left. Pic Dieter Perry

The winning team with Ben Cole third from back left. Pic Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

»A football tournament in honour of a former West Ham player was held on the same Finsbury pitch he died on a year ago to the day.

Mitchell Cole, who represented England at schoolboy level alongside Wayne Rooney, was just 27 when he suffered heart failure at the Finsbury Leisure Centre during a kickabout with friends and family on December 1 last year.

It was the same Norman Street pitch where he started playing as a Moorfield’s Primary School pupil two decades ago, and his family decided a friendly tournament would be the perfect way to mark 12 months since his death.

Ben, Mitchell’s younger brother, said: “I really think he would have appreciated us getting together like that.

“We had a minutes silence before we started, all together in a huddle. That was pretty emotional.

“But the tournament went really well. We had six teams, three made up of family and friends, a couple from the leisure centre and one of kids aged 10 to 13. In the end the kids won. We couldn’t believe it.


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“I think to start with, maybe, we weren’t going in properly, but it turned out they were just really good.”

A week after Mitchell’s death his wife Charly – sister of England star Joe Cole – gave birth to their third child, Leni Boo, named after Mitchell’s Islington-born and bred grandad.

Ben said: “This is a really hard time of year for the family, but we are all doing OK. My mum and dad came to watch the tournament – but Charly took the kids away to take their mind off it.”

Mitchell’s career, which included scoring one of the first competitive goals at the new Wembley Stadium and regularly turning out for the England C team, was hampered by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a rare heart condition causing thickness of the muscle, which can lead to sudden death.

It forced him to leave West Ham aged 17 and eventually retire from the game altogether last year while playing for Oxford United, after a successful spell with Stevenage.