Ebbsfleet United FC are shocked and saddened to learn of the news about our FA Trophy-winning captain and former assistant Paul McCarthy, who died suddenly yesterday at the age of 45.
Quite apart from going down in Fleet history as the man who lifted the Trophy at Wembley in 2008, Paul was a well-loved and popular figure throughout his long association with the club.
Andy Ford brought Paul to the Fleet from Hornchurch in November 2004 after the defender had enjoyed a long Football League career with Brighton & Hove Albion, Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers, with whom he scored in an FA Cup giantkilling of Leicester City alongside Roy Essandoh.
The Corkman was an ex-Republic of Ireland U21 international and served the Fleet for a spell as caretaker manager in between Ford’s departure and the arrival of Liam Daish. As club captain under Daish, he went on to play 162 games, his most memorable of course being his goal in the Trophy semi-final v Aldershot Town and then that great day at Wembley when he lifted the FA Trophy in front of 40,000 people.
In summer 2009 he became player/assistant manager to Daish, hanging up his boots a short time into the 2009/10 season, his last game being at Barrow in October 2009. He formed a great partnership with his former manager and the two masterminded Fleet’s return to the Conference via the 2011 promotion final.
All of us at the club, many of whom will remember working alongside Paul in his time here, are deeply saddened by the news and extend our most heartfelt sympathies to his family at this time as we’re sure do all the club’s fans who remember him warmly as a person and a great servant at Stonebridge Road.
Tributes have poured in this morning as officials, players and fans remember Paul. Former Fleet manager Liam Daish said, “At a loss for words at the news my skipper, my assistant, my mate Paul McCarthy has passed away. Sleep well big man. R.I.P.”
Former Fleet chairman Brian Kilcullen said, “Out of all the players I met, he is up at the top as both a person and player. Really, really sad news,” while club secretary during Paul’s tenure Roly Edwards commented, “On top of everything, he was a great family man. All of us that worked with him grew to love him.”
Some of Paul’s former teammates took to Twitter, including current Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders who posted, “Absolutely gutted to hear the news about Paul McCarthy, probably the best centre back and captain I ever played with and a top bloke” while Rob Quinn, Matt Godden and Joe Howe were also among those to pay tribute.