Carrick Rangers assistant manager Clifford Adams has called on the Irish League football family to work together in the aftermath of Jerry Thompson’s sudden death and enhance the support network in place for young people.
News of Thompson’s tragic passing on Tuesday has been met with both widespread tributes to the player and person and calls for greater awareness over the issues within modern society.
Officials with the Danske Bank Premiership outfit have confirmed the “provision for the players, management, staff and all connected or associated with Carrick Rangers to ensure that they have the professional help and support they need”.
The statement also highlighted how “we would encourage anyone, inside or outside of the club, who at any stage may feel that they need to speak to someone in a time when they are struggling, to not suffer in silence. It’s OK to not be OK”.
A team meeting has been planned for Thursday night at the Rangers ground and Adams is keen to emphasise the importance of increased awareness.
“We have that responsibility and it is about realising these are people as well as players,” said Adams. “I’ve spent my coaching and managerial career dealing, in the main, with young players and we have a responsibility that goes beyond just dealing with them as footballers.
“We will pay our respects to Jerry’s family this week in small groups but have a team meeting for staff and players organised at the football club on Thursday.
“The club chaplain will be present and I know the club officials have been working on extra support.
“Our match has been called off against Cliftonville on Saturday as a mark of respect and now it is just about being together for each other.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone within Carrick Rangers.
“We also want to offer any possible support, as friends and colleagues of Jerry’s, to his family.”
The 24-year-old arrived as a summer signing and proved instantly impressive to the management team, on and off the pitch.
“As a player, he was brilliant for us as wing-back and getting goals and assists along with ‘man-of-the-match’ recognition,” said Adams. “You looked at Jerry’s performances this season and he was so consistent and looked like a player with 200 or 300 Premiership games under his belt.
“I last spoke to him during a light training session in Ballymena on Monday night before we played Glenavon.
“He seemed in great form, laughing and joking with everyone.
“We had Jerry named on the teamsheet against Glenavon on Tuesday night but made changes when he did not arrive at the ground.
“It was only after the game that we, as staff and players, heard the news and everyone was simply devastated in the dressing room.
“For a club like Carrick, anything we achieve must come by working together and having that tightknit bond.
“Jerry came in and was part of that club family ethos from day one.”