Disbelief at loss of huge characters

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THE impact of the four deaths has been felt across the West Suffolk villages where the men all lived

Nigel Wallace, from The Cock Inn in Stanton where Peter Johnson (PJ) was resident DJ, said the pub was full on Friday as people from Bury and Thetford travelled to see if the rumours they had heard were true.

“The atmosphere was flat but everybody decided to meet here again on Saturday to celebrate the four lives,” he said.

“The families came down for a while. The pub was full – we had about 250-300 people, they were over spilling on to the patio.

“Dan and Adam always used to pop in here after football, while Tom was a member of our pool team. They were all larger than life characters. All hard working family men.

“It has had a hell of an impact. Stanton is a close knit community and there have been so many messages of support and help to all the families – that has been unbelievable. But it will leave a big hole in this village for quite some time.”

Both Dan and Adam played for Stanton FC.

Club secretary Joy Mayhew said: “The whole of the community and the football club are in a state of disbelief. It is going to take some time to sink in.”

She said the Hazelton family had been involved with the club for many years. Dan was assistant manager while his brother Matt had been manager of the reserves team several seasons ago.

“They have just been Stanton FC. It doesn’t seem possible that we will move on although of course we will have to.

“Dan was extremely committed to the club – he had Stanton written through him. And if he wasn’t able to play, he would always be there with his little boy on the sidelines.”

She said Adam only joined the club at the start of the season but was friends with most of the team.

The chairman of Walsham-le-Willows FC, Mike Powles, also paid tribute to Adam and Dan – both had played for the club in past seasons, Dan more recently when the team won the league about three of four years ago.

“Dan was tough tackling. He had a lovely left foot. He wasn’t the sort of person you would relish coming up against in a 50/50 challenge. He was very committed, enjoyed the social side and got on well with his team-mates.

“Adam was also a tough tackler. He played for us as a youngster when he was probably 12 or 13 years old. He was very spirited. A lovely lad.

“We are such a small community and to lose four people in these circumstances is such a shock. They will be greatly missed.”.

Dan kicked off his football career as a student at the West Suffolk College Sports Academy, before progressing into the Bury Town U-18s and reserves sides.

Town chairman Russell Ward said: “I knew Dan very well indeed and he was a solid left back – not only that but he was a nice lad with it. His brother Matt was heavily involved in the sport as well.

“Adam was a talented player on the pitch and will also be missed. It is just a very sad loss for us all.”