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Bashley Football Club pays respects to much-loved former goalkeeper John ‘Simmo’ Simpkins

BASHLEY Football Club have paid their respects to one of their most popular former players, goalkeeper John Simpkins, who has passed away.

Known to everyone as ‘Simmo’, Bashley fans from the mid-90s will remember him as a brave and agile keeper whose consistent performances concealed the fact that he had suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was 18.

Consequently he was a leading campaigner for the charity Not Every Disability Is Visible, whose ongoing commitment is “to make everyone with Crohn’s Disease and Colitis feel welcome”.

Former Bashley keeper John 'Simmo' Simpkins
Former Bashley keeper John 'Simmo' Simpkins

Simmo joined Bashley after spells with Salisbury and Basingstoke and later returned to his roots on the Isle of Wight for spells with East Cowes Vics and Newport.

Bashley’s new manager, Dave Lewis, was a junior coming through the ranks at the club during Simmo’s time, and he remembers not only what an excellent keeper he was but how much he encouraged the younger players.

Lewis said: “Personally, I was stunned when I heard that John had passed away – I was speaking with him only a week or so ago. He was just an amazing human being, and everyone loved him.

“I’m sure our fans from those days will have fond memories, not only of his performances but also his personality.

“As someone with great experience at a senior non-league level he was always passing on valuable advice to the younger players, me included.”

In those days, Bashley vice-chairman Iain Roberts was a terrace fan of the club and said: “I remember John as a real crowd-pleaser, a jovial, cheeky-chappy sort.

“He had many great moments with the Bash, and I only ever recall him being on the wrong end of one real blooper.

“We were playing Salisbury at their old ground. It was a bit of a lumpy pitch, and one of the Salisbury players tried what looked a very tame, low shot. John leaned down to make what looked like a routine collection, but the ball suddenly kicked up off a divot and went over his shoulder into the net.

“As you can imagine, at that particular moment he was not quite so ‘jovial’ – but we won the game and he was able to join the banter at his expense afterwards.”

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