A POIGNANT ceremony paying tribute to a hero soldier was held before a football match today.
A flag was raised and the Last Post was played by a bugler at Petersfield Town Football Club in memory of Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, who died while serving in Afghanistan on November 3, 2009.
WO1 Chant lived in Horndean for many years and was also a player for the football club in Love Lane.
His passing has been commemorated each year since his death, but this year the anniversary coincided with a scheduled pre-match luncheon ahead of the match with Cowes Sports.
A ‘Meal for Heroes’ was held, with a fundraising raffle and auction.
The event raised more than £700 for good causes, including Help For Heroes.
It was especially poignant as it came just a day before Remembrance Sunday with services being held across the area to honour fallen servicemen and women.
David Burley, vice chairman of Petersfield Town Football Club, said: ‘It was very poignant.
‘I think the effort on the pitch and the respect shown off the pitch was more than what was required on the day.
‘It shows how much of a mark Mr Chant left behind.’
The 39-year-old was a Petersfield Town footballer between 1997 and 2005.
His parents attended the ceremony and found the occasion very moving.
Mr Burley added: ‘They were very taken aback and pleased by people showing respect. They were very humbled.’
Petersfield lost the match 2-1, but Mr Burley added: ‘The football came second.’
The name of WO1 Chant, who was gunned down by a rogue policeman in Afghanistan, is engraved into the stone of Horndean’s war memorial.
It is the first name to be added to the memorial since 1945 after several servicemen from the Horndean area died in the Second World War.