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Eythorne Rovers secretary Jackie Smith awarded by FA for bravery after standing up to thugs at youth match in Thanet

By Beth Robson

A youth football club volunteer has been presented with a national FA honour for possibly preventing a stabbing by confronting a gang of thugs at a match.

Jackie Smith, Eythorne Rovers Club secretary and welfare officer, has won the People’s Award in the FA Respect and Fair Play Awards.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke with Eythorne Rovers volunteer Jackie Smith who won an award for standing up to thugs at a children's football match

She received her award at a “once in a lifetime presentation” at Wembley Stadium on Community Shield Day which involved dining in the VIP Wembley Suite with the other winners from the other nine categories and the past giants of the game.

Mrs Smith, who has been secretary for 15 years, said: “I was a bit shocked when I found out.”

Mrs Smith was nominated for the national award after showing bravery at a youth football match last October involving Eythorn Rovers Under 18s.

“We are so proud of Jackie” Colin Smith, Jackie's husband

“There was an incident on the pitch where two players went for a 50-50 tackle. The opponent was on the floor and got up and got our player by the throat.

“People from both teams tried to diffuse the situation and then a spectator ran onto the pitch, allegedly to protect his mate.”

The men, believed to be in their mid 20s, later came back and made threats they would “cut them all up,” and they were making jabbing motions.

Mrs Smith was also threatened she would be cut but she called police and when the men heard the sirens, they fled.

Her bravery saw her beat off some 600 nominations to win and the award was presented by FA Chairman Greg Dyke.

The day included champagne, lobster, lamb and a fantastic cut glass trophy.

Lots of autographs including Pat Rice, Mike Summerbee, Franny Lee.

Seats in the royal box were part of his VIP experience and will live in the memory forever

Her husband Colin Smith, the club’s fundraiser and volunteer co-ordinator, said: “On the day Jackie’s first thoughts were for the safety of others and she showed the utmost bravery, and we are all very proud of her at the club.”

“This particular nomination just shows how you can turn a really bad incident into something really positive.

“We are so proud of Jackie at our family-run small but proud Eythorne Rovers Youth Football and Activity Club,” he said.

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