Gareth was a devoted Bluebird – somebody the players, staff and City supporters knew well. Despite battling with illness, Gareth went numerous seasons without missing a City game. He was also a loyal supporter of the Wales national team.
On Tuesday evening, prior to the kick-off of our fixture at Blackburn Rovers, the news broke on social media that Gareth had sadly passed away at the age of twenty-two. An outpouring of love for Gareth emanated from the Bluebirds fans at Ewood Park, replicating itself on message boards, social media sites and in local press. He was a young man with a warmth and passion that resonated with those he met.
Gareth Jenkins, a male family support worker at the Tŷ Hafan hospice, remembers Gareth’s life with fondness. He offered a touching tribute to his friend earlier this week.
“Since Gareth first came to Tŷ Hafan in 2003, we had the pleasure of watching him grow from a shy young boy into a very confident and caring young man who never let his disabilities deter him from his passion of football and supporting Wales and Cardiff City FC,” he said.
“Even when he was staying at Tŷ Hafan, we would always take Gareth to see Cardiff City play as he wouldn’t miss a match. Gareth was always a pleasure to be around and everyone at Tŷ Hafan will remember him with so many fond memories. We were very fortunate to have been a part of such a courageous young man’s life and will never forget Gareth.”
Another of Gareth’s friends, Gerry Wadley, echoed the sentiment with his own reflection.
“The first time I met Gareth was when he came on one of the Wembley Stadium trips in the FA Cup,” said Gerry. “He was quiet, maybe even a little timid back then, but he started going with us regularly and quickly became one of the lads. It was a pleasure to have Gareth, his brother Tom and sometimes mum Cath with us.
“Going to football wont be the same without Gareth on our bus. He was always there with us, in our group. People knew him. Football fans don’t always know each other’s names, but they remember faces and lots of Cardiff supporters would say ‘hi’ to Gareth. The boys respected him. He was one of the most loyal Cardiff City fans I have known in more than forty years supporting the Bluebirds. He will be missed. Unbelievably so.”
All of us at Cardiff City Football Club wish to pay our sincere condolences to Gareth’s family and friends at this difficult time. Gareth’s close family will join us for a minute’s applause in his memory prior to kick-off this afternoon, whilst a big screen dedication will be displayed during the twenty-second minute of the game.