Garry Ford reflects on Stoke Gifford United’s bittersweet league title win.
So, like it was written in the stars, the Bristol and Suburban Premier League title was decided in the last game in a match at Mangotsfield. This fixture earlier in the season had seen a freak accident on the field of play that led to the tragic death of Stoke Gifford forward Ben Hiscox.
On Friday 8th May, the two clubs came together again in this title deciding fixture.
Mangotsfield Sports started the brighter and played some neat football, and their more controlled approach was rewarded when they took the lead mid way through the first-half.
Stoke Gifford, needing a draw to secure the title, found it hard to create opportunities and were to head in at the break trailing 1-0. After the interval, Gifford upped their game , whether it was the appearance of Ben’s dad, Clive, or what manager Martin black had to say, Mangotsfield were pushed back and were desperately trying to repel the Gifford momentum.
This pressure finally told when the flying winger was upended in the box and the resulting penalty was stuck away to make it 1-1, a scoreline that was sufficient for Stoke Gifford to lift the title.
Mangotsfield, who needed all three points, woke up from their earlier slumber and went in search of the goal that would bring the title to Corsham Street. There was some desperate defending – Dan Dunt was cautioned when he could have walked for a late challenge to thwart a Mangotsfield raid. As the corner count increased in Mangotsfield’s favour, the tension rose.
A father who tragically lost his son looked on, and seemed like he was willing the ball to stay out. Ben’s wish had been to win the league and, as the final whistle sounded, he wasn’t there to witness it, but his dad joined his team mates on the pitch to celebrate.
Sometimes, sport goes beyond being just a physical activity and it helps bring a community together. If Ben’s family has found some comfort in Stoke Gifford clinching the title, that’s got to be a good thing. Let’s hope that Ben was looking down and smiling.
How the May 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine reported the funeral of Stoke Gifford United player Ben Hiscox:
Colourful farewell for footballer Ben Hiscox
Hundreds attend funeral of local player who tragically died after hitting head on clubhouse wall during a match
A local footballer who died in hospital three days after a freak accident during a game at the Trust Ground in Stoke Gifford was given a colourful send off by hundreds of friends and well-wishers at his funeral last month.
Ben Hiscox, 30, was playing for Stoke Gifford United FC in a match against Mangotsfield Sports on Saturday 28th March when he slid off the pitch following a challenge and struck his head against the wall of the team’s clubhouse.
The striker was knocked unconscious for a few minutes and was taken by ambulance to Southmead Hospital, where he was found to have suffered two fractures on the back of his skull and bruising on the brain.
Despite making good progress, resulting in him being moved out of intensive care the following Monday, he suffered two seizures in the early hours of Tuesday and tragically died.
He had lived in Bradley Stoke since he was three years old, and started playing football when he was just six. He began playing for Stoke Gifford United aged 16, and went on to play for Bristol Manor Farm for a number of years, but went back to playing for Stoke Gifford United to be with his friends.
Ben, who worked for a lifting company in Avonmouth, had a long-term partner, Zoe Mathews, and a seven-year-old stepdaughter, Aaliyah. His parents, Gloria and Clive Hiscox, also live in Bradley Stoke. He also leaves behind a sister, Rachel, and a nephew, Sebastian.
Mum Gloria told the Bristol Post: “No one ever had a bad word to say about him. He would do anything for anybody. He was an amazing stepfather and he had a brilliant relationship with his stepdaughter and partner.”
Scores of floral and written tributes to Ben were placed against the wall of the clubhouse in Stoke Gifford where the accident happened.
Ben was an avid Bristol Rovers fan and the club staged a minute’s applause in his memory before the start of their Good Friday game against Chester.
Ben’s parents requested that everyone attending Ben’s funeral on 15th April wear blue and white, or a Bristol Rovers football strip, and even the officiating vicar wore a Rovers’ scarf!
Hundreds attended the event, held at Westerleigh Crematorium on a beautifully sunny day – with many having to listen to the service from outside because they couldn’t all fit into the chapel.
The final song to be played at the funeral, at the request of Ben’s parents, was ‘Goodnight Irene’, the adopted club song of Bristol Rovers.
Following the service, everyone was invited to join the family at The Beaufort Arms in Stoke Gifford, where hundreds of well-wishers spilled out onto the pavement along North Road.
Later in the evening, a firework display was held in tribute to Ben at the Trust Ground.
Photo: Ben Hiscox celebrates scoring a goal for Manor Farm in the FA Cup.