Sandy Risley: Tributes From Martin Ling, Dean Smith and Barry Hearn

access_time 1 year ago

After the sad news that club legend Sandy Risley has passed away, two close friends of his have paid their tributes.

Barry Hearn, Club President, and Martin Ling, Director of Football, have both spoken of a wonderful man who had made a big impact on their lives.

Barry Hearn

A special one-off kind of guy, and you had him properly from the heart – a proper geezer as we would say in the East End.

He became involved with Matchroom and the football side of things, and he always gave 100%.

I was running the New York Marathon, and got injured, with big blisters on my feet – had damaged my feet badly, and after 16 miles I was out of the game.

I was quicker than Sandy as he only had one lung, but he caught up with me as I was being treated and waiting for the ambulance. I told him, I had to go back to the start.

He looked at me and said, “We haven’t come all this way not to finish have we, come on, get up.”

He then ran the final ten miles with me backwards, (backwards!) to make sure I finished. And I did finish, but I had no choice.

He would do anything for anybody, but he didn’t take any nonsense. Never mind what the manager said, if he saw someone not putting work in he would pull them up. His heart was on his sleeve, and he gave me 100% loyalty in everything he did.

He had that never give up resilience, that type of resilience that we need these days more than ever. No retreat, no surrender.

Sandy pictured here with  Alan Comfort, Tommy Cunningham, Lee Taylor, Tony Flynn and Paul Brush.

Dean Smith

I first met Sandy when I arrived at the O’s in 97 and we hit it off straight away. From the first day to his last, he would make me smile with his stories and give me knowledge that I couldn’t buy.

He was straight from the heart and would care about everybody he trained as long as they worked hard.

It is a sad loss to many, as he was loved by many, he became my friend, my mentor and will always be my shining light.

Martin Ling

He worked here for thirteen years with me from when I first walked in as a player in ‘96. He was the fitness trainer and then in my period of playing stayed as a fitness coach, before staying on as a masseur – and eventually stepped in as our kitman too!

He was a father figure to all of us, he was the mentor to the coaches. When I was going through my struggles at Cambridge he used to pick me up every day and come to work with me, and that was a massive help to me.

He’s one of the only people who could tell me straight and tell me I was doing wrong, and was never worried about giving an opinion, and it was from his heart so one I really valued. He was always there for everyone – whether you were a player or a coach.

You’d usually get a story with a massage – about when he was evacuated to Norwich, or the violence back in the day with the Krays – he was a massive character, he’ll be deeply missed, and it’s a sad day.

The club will be looking to pay respects to Sandy in one of our upcoming home fixtures, with a minute of silence.