Tributes to 'inspiring' Coventry man who loved the Sky Blues

Harry Treen
-Credit: (Image: Coventry City FC)

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved Coventry man who has been remembered for his love of the Sky Blues. Harry Treen died last week following a battle with prostate cancer and has been hailed as an 'inspiration.'

Harry always enjoyed football, right from an early age, captaining the Brandon and Wolston side in the 1950s when they won the Rugby Chamber of Commerce Cup in 1959. He has been described as 'the heart and soul' of the Cancer Support Walking Football (WF) group, which is run by Sky Blues in the Community (SBitC).

Harry joined the Cancer Support Walking Football sessions in 2020 when he was 88 years old. He decided to join in alongside his friend Tom.

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Friend Tom said: “I always used to say hello to Harry on my street, but when my neighbour told me he used to be a good footballer playing for Wolston in his youth, I decided to approach him about coming to play for SBitC Cancer Support WF team. He jumped at the chance. Every Friday morning, he was always ready and raring to go... even to his last days.”

He continued: “I enjoyed having Harry, not only as a fellow player but also as a friend and neighbour. He will be truly missed by me and the team, but never forgotten.”

Coach Dennis Zuill opened up about the time he spent with Harry. He said: “Every Friday, his presence reminded us all to live life every day to the fullest. We often take for granted the fact we wake up every day.

“But not Harry, he just loved his football. It was his happy place where he found his most therapeutic pleasure. From the first day I met him, I was in awe of his football IQ and intelligence on the pitch.”

Mr Zuill continued: “I was honestly scared to be on the pitch with him, so I made sure I joined his team. You get anxiety thinking will the ball hit him too hard, but with his awareness and intelligence, you would soon figure out what an honour it was to share a pitch with such a student of the game. From needle-through-a-thread passes to body swerves, timely tackles and his favourite step over dummies, you were in the presence of greatness.

“Harry has inspired me in my life to never let any problems get me down. Life is to be lived and lived with purpose. From all his struggles, you would never know laced up his boots.”

Participant Ron Bannister said the much-loved 92-year-old will be remembered for his 'smiling face.' He said: “I first met Harry when he was only 88 years old, there was something special about him.

“As the weeks went by, I thought how can this man still be playing football at his age? But you could tell Harry had played this game before. He still had some great touches and was always in the right position.

He added: “My lasting memory of Harry was the Sky Blues in the Community (SBitC) Community Day and his smiling face. He could not stop talking about it when he got home!

“He was a real gentleman and had an amazing appetite for football. Harry has left a big gap in our Cancer Support group and will be missed by us all.”

Harry played at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Longford on May 9
Harry played at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Longford on May 9 -Credit:Coventry City FC

His last time playing with his fellow walking footballers was on Thursday, May 9. He attended the SBitC Community Day with around 80 others and enjoyed a fun, light-hearted tournament at the Coventry Building Society Arena in Longford.

Coach Dennis said: “Just a week before his passing seeing him apply his trade on the CBS carpet, brought us all so much joy. I will miss you Harry and cherish each and every moment I spent with you.”

Harry will be laid to rest at the Rainsbrook Cemetery and Crematorium in Rugby on Tuesday, June 11 at 12pm. Donations can be made to Sky Blues in the Community on MuchLoved.

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