OXENHOPE Recreation Football Club say It’s Worth Talking About mental health.

In October 2019, many in the Keighley area and local footballing community were rocked by the sudden death by misadventure of Tom Marshall at the age of just 25.

But this hit Oxenhope Recreation harder than most due to Tom being one of their own, club captain, a talented midfielder, the life and soul of the dressing room and not only a team-mate, but a good friend who will be forever remembered at the club.

Oxenhope, who have since retired Tom’s favourite number 11 shirt in his memory, are now going a step further by announcing a two-year sponsorship partnership with a local mental health organisation, which was created due to the death of Tom.

It’s Worth Talking About was set up in March 2020 by two ex-Oxenhope players, Ryan Anderton and Andy Clements, after Tom’s death highlighted the need for more mental health support in the local area.

The former, who was working for Mind at the time, realised that men and women in Keighley and surrounding towns and villages were struggling to access support due to the available help being primarily hospital or Bradford/Leeds-based.

The organisation is awaiting charity status and now runs weekly talking therapy peer support groups for men and women in Keighley, Haworth, Cross Roads, Silsden, Bingley, Wilsden and Saltaire along with running/walking groups.

The organisation’s name will appear on the front of the Oxenhope first team shirts for their 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons in Division One of the West Yorkshire League, as well as featuring prominently around the pitch, club house and on social media platforms.

The partnership, which was pushed for by the players and management of the club, was agreed by the trustees of It’s Worth Talking About after an individual/company (that would like to remain anonymous) made a donation to the mental health organisation, allowing this very fitting tribute to Tom to become possible.

Liam McNicol, the first team manager at Oxenhope, said: “Having known Tom and played alongside him for many years before making him my captain, I think this is a really fitting tribute to him.

“I’m delighted this is happening, more so for the players because they are made up about it too.

“The opportunity to step out on the pitch wearing, not just an Oxenhope shirt, but a shirt that will now have even more meaning to it, will be a proud moment for them all.

“This partnership works brilliantly for both parties due to mental health being something that we as a club have seriously advocated on behalf of.”

Anderton added: “Mental health is something that is being talked about more and more, and more charitable organisations like us are stepping forward and being very vocal about the support that we offer.

“As ex-Oxenhope players who were brought up in the village, me and Andy are extremely honoured and grateful that this is happening.

“It is a wonderful tribute to Tom but also it gives us the platform to potentially reach more men and women around the county that might require a safe place to talk and be heard.”

To find out more information about It’s Worth Talking About, visit their website at www.itsworthtalkingabout.org or search #itsworthtalkingabout on social media.