Monday, 20 August 2018

Anton Reid

Anton Reid

On this day, August 20th in 2007, Walsall Centre of Excellence member Anton Reid tragically passed away, aged just 16.
Anton joined Walsall aged just 13, and by age 16 was seen as a major prospect amongst the Saddlers coaching staff, standing at over six-feet tall, Anton played as a central defender with the ability to fill-in at left-back, and had put in many solid performances for the clubs' youth team, enough to earn an apprenticeship.

As part of his apprenticeship, Anton had undergone a full medical, including several cardiovascular tests. However, just six weeks later, whilst training with his team-mates at Aston University, Anton blocked a shot with his chest, ran back to his position on the edge of the 18-yard box and collapsed, suffering, what was later discovered to be a heart attack due to an undiagnosed heart defect, known as idiopathic left ventricular hypertrophy.

Anton's death was met with an outpouring of grief from Saddlers players, staff, and fans as the club came to terms with a tragedy which left a void in many people's lives.

In the years since her son's death, Anton’s mother, Sonia Bailey, has set up The Anton Reid Foundation, and organises regular events to raise funds for CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young, a charity aiming to raise the awareness of Sudden Death Syndrome and other heart defects in the young. Sonia also continues to campaign for all football clubs to increase heart screenings and install defibrillators in their stadiums and training facilities.

Walsall Football Club now ensure that they have a defibrillator, entonox, and oxygen at every training session, along with robust emergency procedures aimed at preventing a similar incident occurring again in the future.

Although many positive strides have been taken, Sonia Bailey, The Anton Reid Foundation, CRY, and many other similar charities continue to strive for further improvements in screening and detection, with the long-term hope of preventing a similar tragedy in the future.

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