A TEAM named after a striker who was fatally wounded after watching a football game in a Dollis Hill pub is on its way to a treble.
North West Lions was formed three months before one of its star players, Luke Fitzpatrick, died after an alleged assault near the Ox Gate pub, Coles Green Road, Dollis Hill.
Six men are on trial at the Old Bailey in connection with his death in May last year.
Less than a year after his death, the renamed Luke’s Lions have taken the league by storm and have already topped the table.
The team, aged from 19 to mid-30s, is now hoping to win both the cup and the shield of the London Football League, based in Harrow Road.
Manager and player Mark Devereux, 26, who grew up in the Dollis Hill area and now lives in Watford, had been friends with Luke since they were both 13. Changing the name had given the team the passion to play better, he said.
“It is really good to be honest, we have done really well,” Mr Devereux added. “It is our first season and we won the league, and there will be a presentation in central London soon.”
More than 100 people can visit Gladstone Park to watch the team’s home games, including Luke’s friends and family.
Mr Devereux, a painter and decorator, said: “We started it just to have a game of football in Gladstone Park, then go to the pub, but after what happened to Luke it made me more determined to get into a league and we have taken it by storm.
“Luke was our striker and he was fast and a goal scorer – he was always scoring goals. There is more passion from the boys now and to win the league was very emotional, we wanted it so much. He would be proud.”
Mr Devereux is now trying to find a league for Luke’s Cubs, which has players aged 14 to 16.
“It’s going well, but it’s hard to find a league for that age group all together,” he said. “It’s a lot of kids from the same kind of area and if they weren’t doing it, they would be standing around on the corners of streets. They stay out of trouble.
“Luke was more than a friend to us, he was a brother – we were just like family.”