Sporting U's founder passes away.
Colchester United were deeply saddened to hear the news that Tony Willoughby, who founded the club's Sporting U's programme in 1981, had passed away at the weekend.
Tony will be a recognisable name and face to Colchester supporters, many of whom will have started their association with the football club through the efforts of Sporting U's, led by Tony and his wife Margaret.
First employed when Bobby Roberts was U's manager, Tony and Margaret ran the Sporting U's clubhouse at Layer Road, open seven days a week. The clubhouse encouraged children and families to be involved in sport and particularly with their local football club.
The U's are proud of their current family offer, but Tony was the first to manage the Family Terrace at Layer Road, where hundreds of children and families attended every home game, and he also ran the original version of the Junior U's club.
Across his nineteen years at the club, Tony set up and managed events for kids before, during half-time and after first team games.
He regularly held races, penalty competitions and more at half time on the pitch and also presented prizes at half time on the pitch to kids from competitions during the week.
Away from matchdays, Tony turned his energy towards 5-a-side football, with literally thousands of local kids playing across his time at the club in leagues and tournaments on the Sporting U's pitch.
And it wasn't just football, as Tony's team hosted a range of activities at Sporting U's, including: Netball leagues and tournaments (children and ladies), tennis, mini-tennis, petanque and children's parties.
At a time where the club is currently extending its reach in the local community once again, it is with great sadness that we heard of Tony's passing, and our thoughts are with Margaret and the family at this time.
Service of Thanksgiving
Tony's life will be remembered at St Botolph's Church in Queen Street, Colchester, at 2.30pm on Monday 10th August. All are welcome.