A man died after falling unwell during Leyton Orient’s League One match against Lincoln City on Tuesday night as fans staged an extraordinary protest to get the game stopped.
Derek Reynolds, 74, a life-long Orient supporter, was pronounced dead following remarkable scenes at Brisbane Road, which saw around 20 fans take part in a sit-in on the pitch when the match continued despite one of them running on to the field to alert referee Stephen Martin to the unfolding tragedy.
The protest succeeded in briefly halting proceedings in the 84th minute before Martin tried to restart the game, which he suspended after the dying fan was carried to the touchline and CPR was performed.
The match was abandoned an hour after the initial stoppage, with medical teams still attending to the incident as supporters left the ground.
Those attending the game reacted with fury to Martin’s initial refusal to stop it – and his later attempt to resume it – but Telegraph Sport has been told a report into the incident ordered by the English Football League has found he followed the correct protocol for medical emergencies in the stands. It also found no evidence of Martin’s actions resulting in a delay in help reaching the dying spectator.
Orient released a statement on X on Wednesday, confirming the identity of the supporter as well as announcing a tribute in their next home game.
“Leyton Orient Football Club is devastated to confirm that supporter Derek Reynolds has passed away.
“Derek, 74, became unwell at Brisbane Road during Tuesday evening’s league fixture against Lincoln City.
“Despite the best efforts of Derek’s fellow supporters and medical professionals from the club’s on-site paramedics and doctors, Lincoln City and the London Ambulance Service, he sadly lost his life.”
Leyton Orient Football Club is devastated to confirm that the supporter who was taken ill at Tuesday's game against Lincoln City has sadly passed away.
Rest in peace, Derek ❤️
— Leyton Orient FC (@leytonorientfc) October 4, 2023
“Derek was a life-long O’s supporter and he lived in Osbourne Road, a short walk from the ground for many years. As well as being a lifelong fan, Derek was heavily involved in the club and managed the club’s tannoy system during the 1990s.
“The club will be paying tribute to Derek at Saturday’s home fixture against Reading and his family have been invited to the game as guests of the club.
“A book of condolence will be available for supporters in the East Stand to sign on Saturday and it will then be available for all fans in West Stand reception thereafter.
“We would, once again, like to thank Derek’s fellow supporters for the way in which they conducted themselves on Tuesday night and acted to try and help the situation.”
Any further controversy over refereeing decisions is the last thing Howard Webb, the head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), needs following the Liverpool offside goal fiasco.
Telegraph Sport has been told Martin, who is due to be fourth official for Manchester United’s Premier League game against Brentford on Saturday, and his team have undergone welfare checks following Tuesday’s incident.