Jordan Sinnott; shirt donations shine a light through the darkness
Background image: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0.
When 25-year-old Jordan Sinnott’s death was announced, shockwaves ran through the football community. The young midfielder’s life, taken so senselessly in a brutal attack outside a Nottinghamshire bar seemed to affect football fans across the globe, even those who would never have heard his name were it not for his untimely passing.
I didn't know Sinnott personally. But I saw him play live perhaps 30 times during his two stints with my hometown club, Altrincham. He was signed for the Robins by his father, Lee, who managed Alty between 2011 and 2016. Lee came across as an honest and decent man, always happy to talk with fans, and is fondly remembered for leading his team to promotion via a last-gasp play-off win.
Even at the lowest levels of football, players live by their ability. But in the tight-knit community of a non-league football club, their personalities play a greater role than in the largely disconnected, sanitised world of the top-flight. Arrogance, laziness and nastiness are amplified, communicated through to teammates and fans on the terraces alike. No one ever had a bad thing to say about Sinnott on a personal level. Indeed, he was the consummate professional. Despite being brought to the club by his father, Jordan remained after Lee’s departure and gave his all on the pitch. He worked hard, filling in at right-back and right-wing as well as his favoured position in the centre of midfield. Following his departure, Sinnott made similarly positive impressions on Chesterfield, Halifax, Alfreton and Matlock.
Despite the horrifying suddenness of Sinnott’s death, a ray of brightness shines through the darkness. Jordan’s brother Tom requested shirts from each club Jordan played for in his career be donated, printed with Sinnott, 25 on the back. The shirts would be displayed at Jordan’s funeral before being passed on to Sport Relief, where they would be given to under-privileged players around the world struggling to afford their own kit. The movement blew up and hundreds of clubs from across the world, from glitzy Premier League outfits to obscure Scottish junior clubs, pitched in and donated their own shirts.
Not many will have heard of Sinnott before his death. A talent, no doubt (his free-kicks in an Altrincham shirt stick in the memory), though never a world-beater. His two appearances in the English Championship represented the peak of his short career. Yet it is players like Jordan who are the backbone of football’s complex ecosystem. The megastars of the world game, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, cannot function without the legion of everyman background players like Sinnott; good, hardworking players who put in the hard graft on the training pitch and in the gym without hope of making the millions their heroes do.
In the grand scheme of things, football is not a matter of life and death, no matter what Bill Shankly may have said. Clubs mourn the loss of a player and a friend. while the thought of the Sinnott family devastated at this senseless killing is hard to take. But it is perhaps a small comfort to think that in the last game of football Jordan ever played, he scored a hat-trick. It was the first, and last, of his career. The thought of him happy on the pitch, putting an opposition defence to the sword with a smile on his face, may offer those who knew him some tiny shred of solace. Perhaps the hundreds of shirts that now bear his name can offer a portion of that happiness to a child who never had their own football kit before. A fine legacy left by a fine player and a good man.