Ashton Athletic left 'devastated' after player death
Ashton Athletic are in mourning after the tragic death of one of their brightest young stars.
Sam Harding, 20, was killed in a crash at a 'car meet' in an industrial area in Warrington on Sunday night.
Police were called to reports of a collision between a car and a pedestrian on Kingsland Grange, Woolston, at about 9.40pm.
Harding, from Stockport, was taken to Warrington District Hospital where he later died.
A 21-year-old man from Morley, Leeds, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
He had been driving the vehicle involved, a black Audi S3, and was uninjured.
"Ashton Athletic are devastated to hear the news of the passing of 2021-22 first-team player Sam Harding," read a club statement.
"Sam was only at our club for one season and was a huge factor in our improved form since his arrival.
"He was a quiet, well-mannered young man and he will be sorely missed by everyone at the club.
"All our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this terrible time. RIP Sam."
Cheshire police are appealing for witnesses and video footage of the incident, with a 'large number' of people understood to be present.
In a tribute released by Cheshire Police, Sam's family said: "Our beautiful son was tragically taken away from us on Sunday, April 10, 2022.
"A much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend to many.
"We will never ever forget you Sam and will love you forever.
"Rest in peace sweet angel, love Mum, Dad and Amy xx."
Sgt Simon Degg, from Cheshire Police's Serious and Complex Collision Investigation Unit, said: "Enquiries in relation to this incident are in the early stages and we are committed to doing everything we can to establish what has taken place.
"We know there were a large number of people present at the 'car meet' and as part of our investigation we are keen to hear from witnesses of the collision.
"The same goes for anyone with any video footage from the event – both of the collision itself and before and after the incident.
"I’d urge anyone with any information, no matter how small, to get in touch."
Harding’s former club, FC United of Manchester, also paid tribute to him.
Academy manager Tom Conroy said: “Technically Sam was one of the best academy players we have ever had and that was proven when he was successful in England schoolboy trials earning caps for his country.
“Sam is always spoken about to future academy players as a perfect example of the type of player we want at the club not only with regards to the standard of footballing ability but the type of person he was – kind, polite, hard working and professional.
“He will be sadly missed and I would like to pass my love and condolences to Sam’s family.”
Wigan Athletic tweeted: “Devastating news. The thoughts of all at Wigan Athletic are with Sam's family and friends, as well as with everyone at Ashton Athletic.”
Anyone with any information or video footage which may help the investigation should contact Cheshire Police here or phone 101, quoting IML 1242714.
Information can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.