Jhis Saturday September 10 would have been Adam Stansfield’s forty fourth birthday. Stansfield died of bowel most cancers aged 31 whereas underneath contract with City of Exeter however it by no means feels too distant. Exeter have renamed a stand in St James Park in his honor and in a thoroughfare on the membership’s Cliff Hill coaching base there’s something of a sanctuary for the previous striker: a crimson and white striped residence shirt” Stansfield 9″ on a bust above a pair of trainers, alongside images, a schedule, workforce sheets and shirts from his three skilled golf equipment: Yeovil, Hereford and Exeter. Since his tragic loss of life, Exeter employees can’t recall a recreation the place followers didn’t proudly chant Stansfield’s identify.
As of late, they’ve one other Stansfield to cheer on and cherish. Adam’s identify and legacy lives on the Adam Stansfield Foundation and within the recreation through his eldest son Jay, additionally a striker, who final week joined his boyhood membership on mortgage from Fulham for whom he signed aged 16. His new supervisor, Matt Taylor, performed alongside Jay’s father for 3 years at Exeter, who introduced out the No.9 jersey from his retirement for Jay to put on. The transfer announcement video went viral, attracting over 3.2 million views. Jay remains to be scrolling by messages of assist from all over the world. “My telephone stored ringing,” the 19-year-old stated. “It is well mannered to reply and say thanks.”
His debut final weekend inevitably introduced again reminiscences after which a tearful Jay cheered as followers watched from the grandstand bearing his father’s identify. His household was invited to the board of administrators. “It was emotional,” Jay says. “It hit me once I bought out of my automobile with my two brothers. The subsequent factor I hear is folks singing as I stroll by the ground. All they sang was, “Sing a music for Stanno.” To get into the automobile and be capable to hear them and see the folks ready [for me], that set the tone of the day. It was loopy. I knew it was a fantastic factor to return again and take the No.9 shirt, however I actually did not suppose it will explode as a lot as he did.
He moved residence along with his mom, Marie, his stepfather, Oran, and his youthful brothers, Taylor and Cody, who each play soccer, the previous for Elmore, for whom Adam performed, the latter for Twyford Spartans, Jay’s first membership for which his father additionally performed. “I’ve a shaggy dog story,” Jay smiles. “There was a five-a-side match at Twyford, the final with my mates, in all probability three weeks after my trial at Fulham. My entire household was telling me to not play in case I bought harm however I advised a bit pig about it and stated I used to be coming down to look at and assist handle. I ended up enjoying and we gained the match.
“I did not consider it however my uncle was over there watching my cousin and my brothers. My grandfather was there too. They approached, noticed me enjoying and instantly known as my mom. My mom has gone mad at me. I would not do it once more.
Jay made his Premier League debut for Wolves final month and his first top-flight begin every week later within the win over Brentford. “They are saying I bought an help… I hit the crossbar, it bounced off Bobby [Decordova-Reid] and he scored however I will take it, ”smiles Jay. However at 10:30 p.m. on deadline day, he was placing the ending touches on a homecoming. “I used to be pondering, ‘Am I taking the No.9 shirt, am I? Do I wish to observe in his footsteps or create a narrative for myself? However no matter quantity I took, I knew I’d reside within the shadows and the strain would all the time be on me. Despite the fact that I’ve “Stansfield” and the quantity 9 on my again, I am me for who I’m and that will not change. I assumed it will be a good suggestion if I picked up No.9. With the ability to put on it and run in entrance of that grandstand means a lot to me and it is one thing I’ll keep in mind eternally.
When Jay got here off the bench in opposition to MK Dons on his debut, feelings have been working excessive. Adam’s brother-in-law Shaun Parkin, his voice cracking, says: “When the followers sang the music ‘Stanno’, ‘We’ll by no means allow you to go’ when Jay ran…and so they have been all chanting his identify …it brings all of it again. ‘Stanno, Stanno, Stanno.’ It is magic, it is bizarre, it is bizarre. It was fairly suffocating, actually. Adam can be laughing at what is going on on right here. He’d love what occurred to Jay, however all these individuals are singing songs. songs about him 12 years after his loss of life.
Parkin’s voice resumes. “Individuals who acquire cash in his identify; His sister [Andrea] leaping out of a airplane, Roger, his father, working his first half-marathon at, I believe, 65 years outdated with Andrea… it’s extremely particular.
Jay has one other shirt to border and add to his assortment. He has his father’s shirts on the wall in his hallway subsequent to his at his residence in London, however got here throughout one other treasure at his residence in Tiverton. “When it was lockdown I used to be within the backyard enjoying with my brothers and located a pair of trainers underneath the mattress,” Jay says. “They have been outdated [Nike] Timpo from the 90s. I requested mum: ‘Can I put on these?’ I went out into the backyard and wore them and in my head I used to be going to put on them to the following recreation. I assumed it will be a pleasant contact however they did not final, the underside fell off. I’ve quite a lot of his boots in glass bins. It is good to have issues round. Mother gave me her watch to put on to promenade. I like footage however clearly it upsets me, and I do not all the time wish to be upset. There’s something optimistic in life that I can take away from it. I attempt to be as robust as doable and seem like I am high quality when typically I am not.
Jay remembers seeing his dad play at Wembley in 2008, when Rob Edwards scored for Exeter to seal promotion to the Soccer League, and in years previous he is scoured YouTube for clips of his dad in motion. “I get a bit emotional if I hear his identify from commentators or issues like that, so I attempt to preserve a cool head and never stare at him or discuss him an excessive amount of,” he says. “My mum used to inform me a narrative about when he had no concept he was going to begin however he confirmed up and scored the winner in opposition to Oxford. I sat and watched that recreation.
Father and son share many traits: from their gait (“I all the time run with my fingers in and with my thumbs up, one thing he was additionally doing”) to their work ethic and, in fact, their urge for food for targets. (Jay scored 4 hat-tricks in three video games for Fulham Underneath-18s). “When he first rolled down the wing, oh my God, it was deja vu,” says longtime Exeter chairman Julian Tagg.
Jay has adopted Adam’s pre-game meal – a ham and cheese omelette – however given he is a teetotaler, it is not one other ritual his dad has stored from his days exterior of the league. Steve Tully, Adam’s roommate on journeys with Exeter, remembers the acquainted knock on the door when room service delivered a pint of Stella Artois after the 9pm curfew. “Typically we’d ask them to place it underneath a blanket or put a Coke in it,” Tully says. “We’d discover a means. He stated, “It places me to sleep, and I can run all day tomorrow.” In half an hour he can be drowsing loud night breathing.
Paul Tisdale, then supervisor of Exeter, employed a psychiatrist to assist the workforce cope with the tragedy. Adam is sorely missed. ” when a good friend is not round as a result of the telephone stops ringing,” says Tully, who briefly coached Jay as an Underneath-16 at Exeter. “He needed to be a physio and I keep in mind he was studying his books, studying science, physique elements – typically I needed to check him – and I used to be aspiring to be a coach. He was like, ‘Nicely, you wish to be a supervisor , I am a physio…’ We had these visions of what we needed to do once we retired.
“After I see Jay on the pitch, I simply suppose, ‘We should always watch this recreation collectively, have a beer, snort and joke round.'”
At Yeovil’s Huish Park, a photograph of Adam sits of their memorial backyard. Adam’s former teammates stay shocked by his loss and shocked by his work charge. “To this point, he’s probably the most selfless participant I’ve performed with,” stated Liam Sercombe. “You possibly can play a foul move on him, however by some means he would find yourself making it seem like a ‘world’ move.”
Sercombe remembers Adam becoming a member of Exeter on their pre-season journey to Saunton Sands round a month earlier than his loss of life and serving to his aspect earn factors at a quiz evening. He remembers the hundreds of individuals lining the streets and gathering exterior Exeter Cathedral on the day of Adam’s funeral, when Tisdale described him as “the locomotive of our prepare”. “He appreciated being with the boys,” Sercombe says. “After I noticed Jay’s interview the opposite day, I bought teary eyed.”