Neil Marshall’s family this week paid tribute to the man who was devoted to his family.
Former Lancaster City captain Neil passed away at home on November 16 after a battle with cancer. He was just 31.
A plumber by trade, Neil was latterly working at VolkerBrooks on White Lund.
He grew up on the Marsh with parents Kath and Tony and older brothers Paul and Scott. He attended Bowerham Primary School and then Central Lancaster High School before going on to Lancaster & Morecambe College to train as a plumber.
“He loved it,” his wife Kim said. “He worked for a few companies but was at VolkerBrooks for the last year; they were really good with him having time off when he was ill.”
Kim and Neil got together on a night out in Lancaster 10 years ago, although they already knew each other since Neil was playing for Marsh United, then managed by Kim’s dad David Speak.
The couple moved into their home in Beech Street eight years ago, and went on to have son Max, now five and at Willow Lane Primary School and a budding footballer himself with Marsh Under 7s, and three-year-old Daisy.
Neil and Kim married at the Priory in July 2014.
While he enjoyed a night out with the lads, Neil’s main priority was his family, and when he received offers from AFC Fylde, Clitheroe and Fleetwood, he turned them all down.
“He wanted to be loyal to Lancaster,” said father-in-law David. “After his first two seasons he had made quite an impact at City, but Neil was Neil and he didn’t think about himself and he decided his loyalties were with Lancaster.”
“Family definitely came first for him,” Kim said. “That was the main reason for him stopping with Lancaster; he wanted to stay at home and spend time with his family.
“Even after he had brain surgery he went back to work to get some money coming in because he was worried about us. He wasn’t one for sitting at home, he wanted to be out and working.” Neil had undergone several rounds of treatment before he was finally told last July that his cancer was incurable.
He tried to pack as much fun as he could into the rest of his life, including a skydive in February and a family holiday to Lloret de Mar in September.
David said: “In all the time he was having treatment he never once complained. I would take him to Preston for treatment and we would just talk about football. He was always really strong and wouldn’t talk about it so that he didn’t upset anyone else.
“A few days after his brain surgery he was watching Lancaster City. The whole crowd stood up and applauded him and sang his name.
“I was proud to be his father-in-law. The way he fought right to the end and never once complained was amazing. He leaves a legacy in Lancaster.”
Kim added: “I want him to be remembered not just as a footballer but as a husband and dad.
“He put his family before everything; he was the best daddy you could have.”
* Events have already been organised after the launch of a fundraising appeal to help support Neil’s family in the coming years.
Organisers, who are planning 12 months of fundraising, hope the many hundreds from far and wide who have paid tribute to the long-serving Giant Axe captain since he passed away will now support the cause in Neil’s memory.
All gate receipts from Lancaster City’s emotional game against Mossley last Tuesday – around £4,000 – are to be donated to the fund to kickstart the year of support.
Three events are already planned for the new year: A Legends Night at the Globe Arena on a date to be confirmed, a comedy night at the Hornet’s Nest on the Marsh on January 27, and a soul night at the Trimpell Club in Morecambe on January 28.
Former Lancaster City manager Darren Peacock is also planning to hold an event,and Morecambe FC have said they would like to arrange a tribute too.
It is also hoped that a Lancaster City v Morecambe game can be arranged next year. “The number of people who have said they want to help is fantastic,” said David.
“We want to thank everybody for their support so far, it’s been amazing.
“We just can’t thank everyone enough. Neil would have been so humbled by it.”
For more information on the Neil Marshall Memorial Fund or if you wish to hold an event, contact Mick Hoyle on 07860 688104.
Anyone wishing to donate can make a bank transfer to account number 11798286 with sort code 40-27-02, using the reference Neil Marshall Memorial Fund.