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COMMUNITY: RIP Harry - a SBitC inspiration

23 May 2024


COMMUNITY: RIP Harry - a SBitC inspiration

23 May 2024

Harry Treen, our oldest participant throughout all our Sky Blues in the Community projects, sadly passed away last week, aged 92.

Known for his dedication to walking football (WF) and continuous smile, despite his personal struggles with Prostate Cancer,  Harry joined our Cancer Support Walking Football sessions back in 2020 when he was 88 years old. He joined the session with his friend Tom.

Tom, WF participant and friend commented: “Well, what can I say about the man ‘Harry Treen’. I always used to say hello to Harry on my street, but when my neighbour told me he used to be a good footballer playing for Wolston in his youth, I decided to approach him about coming to play for SBitC Cancer Support WF team. He jumped at the chance. Every Friday morning, he was always ready and raring to go... even to his last days.”

He continued to say “I enjoyed having Harry, not only as a fellow player, but also as a friend and neighbour. He will be truly missed by me and the team, but never forgotten. RIP Harry Treen.”

Harry always enjoyed football, right from an early age, captaining the Brandon & Wolston side back in the 1950’s when they won the Rugby Chamber of Commerce Cup by two goals to nil in 1959.

Dennis Zuill, SBitC coach and WF lead spoke about his experience knowing Harry: “Oh What A Man , Mr. Inspiration as we called him in the Cancer Support Group. This Group really brings joy to my heart. Having lost my grandfather to Prostate Cancer, I have a real soft spot for these gentlemen and their families.”

“Harry in particular symbolised our motto, ‘football is a way of life!’. Every Friday, Harry's presence reminded us all to live life every day to the fullest. We often take for granted the fact we wake up every day.

“But not Harry, he just loved his football. It was his happy place where he found his most therapeutic pleasure. From the first day I met him, I was in awe with his football IQ and intelligence on the pitch.  I was honestly scared to be on the pitch with him, so I made sure I joined his team. You get anxiety thinking will the ball hit him too hard, but with Harry's awareness and intelligence, you'd soon figure out what an honour it was to share a pitch with such a student of the game. From needle-through- a-thread passes, to body swerves, timely tackles and his favourite step over dummies, you were in the presence of greatness.

“Harry has inspired me in my life to never let any problems get me down. Life is to be lived and lived with purpose. From all his struggles, you'd never know once he laced up his boots.”

He has been described as ‘the heart and soul’ of the Cancer Support WF group. Everyone thought a lot of Harry and looked up to him and his story as an inspiration.


Ron Bannister, WF participant and SBitC volunteer spoke about their relationship: “I first met Harry when he was only 88 years old. There was something special about him. As the weeks went by, I thought how can this man still be playing football at his age? But you could tell Harry had played this game before. He still had some great touches and was always in the right position.”

He added: “My lasting memory of Harry was the SBitC Community Day and his smiling face. He couldn’t stop talking about it when he got home! He was a real gentleman and had an amazing appetite for football. Harry has left a big gap in our Cancer Support group and will be missed by us all – RIP mate.”

Harry’s last time playing with his fellow walking footballers was on Thursday 9 May at the Sky Blues in the Community – Community Day, held on the pitch at the Coventry Building Society Arena – home to Coventry City Football Club. Despite not feeling 100%, Harry was never going to miss this fantastic opportunity. He attended the event with around 80 other walking footballers and enjoyed a fun, light-hearted tournament – playing on the pitch like a pro.

A smile from ear-to-ear, you could see the delight in Harry’s face from the moment he stepped out onto the pitch. Fellow teammates never would have believed that would be the last time they would play alongside their friend. But what a pitch and stadium to have had your final game.

Dennis Zuill also commented: “Just a week before his passing seeing him apply his trade on the CBS carpet, brought us all so much Joy. He was the crown King of the day and rightly so celebrated by his fellow colleagues.  Sami captured the most amazing image of Harry which sums up the character of such a wonderful man . Smiling from ear to ear enjoying life as it should be lived.

“I'll miss you Harry and cherish each and every moment I spent with you. There's only one Harry Treen, There's Only One Harry Treen!"

Harry’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 11 June at 12pm at the Rainsbrook Cemetery & Crematorium, where he will be laid to rest in his Coventry City kit, amongst all his loved ones, family members and fellow walking football teammates.

Harry’s family have expressed that anyone wishing to leave a gift in his memory would welcome donations to the Sky Blues in the Community Cancer Support Walking Football group.


Harry with his Walking Football friends after playing on the pitch earlier this month.

Harry’s family commented: “This walking football team and activity brought joy and happiness that we will never have enough words to thank you for. Football was everything to him.”

If you would like to honour their wishes and donate in memory of Harry, please visit this link

Writing on the page, Harry's family said:

This is a tribute to remember the great Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and man Harry Treen was. This is a collection in memory of Harry for his Cancer Walking football team Coventry City Sky Blues. This gave Harry his joy, excitement and passion for football all over again, gave him strength and happiness whilst he battled this horrible disease. Your donations will help continue this great cause into the future so more people can gain from the many benefits it provides, the sense of community, laughter and best of all a penalty or two!

Funeral address: Rainsbrook Cemetery & Crematorium, Ashlawn Rd, Rugby, CV22 5QQ

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