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Man arrested over death of 20-year-old footballer at ‘car meet’

Sam Harding (Cheshire Police/PA)
Sam Harding (Cheshire Police/PA)

A man has been arrested after a 20-year-old footballer died following a collision with a vehicle at a “car meet”.

The incident took place in an industrial area in Warrington, Cheshire, 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.

Sam Harding, from Stockport, who played for North West Counties Football League (NWCFL) team Ashton Athletic, 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.

Cheshire Police is appealing for witnesses and video footage.

Sergeant Simon Degg, from the Serious and Complex Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Inquiries 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 that there were a large number of people present at the ‘car meet’ and as part of our investigation we are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed 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.”

In a tribute, Mr Harding’s family said: “Our beautiful son was tragically taken away from us on Sunday 10 April 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.”

Mr Harding played for Ashton Athletic FC and previously was capped for England Schoolboys.

In a tweet, the club said: “Ashton Athletic are devastated to hear the news of the passing of 2021/22 first team player Sam Harding.

“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.”

His 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.”

Anyone with any information or video footage which may help the investigation should contact Cheshire Police at https://www.cheshire.police.uk/police-forces/cheshire-constabulary/areas/cheshire/about-us/about-us/provide-more-information-about-an-appeal/ or phone 101, quoting IML 1242714.

Information can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.