A MEMORIAL match will be held in tribute to an ice hockey player who was found hanged in a disused mill.

Players from two Lancashire ice hockey teams have agreed to come together and put on the game in memory of Robert William Craig, 30, of Edenfield.

He died in a partially-derelict mill in Rosebank, Ramsbottom, on June 21 last year.

Throughout his life, Mr Craig, an avid ice hockey fan who grew up in Ramsbottom, experienced spells of ‘unpredictable’ low moods and depression, which are believed to have contributed to his death.

The former ice hockey player’s struggle with depression became more pronounced after he sustained a head injury while playing ice hockey just three weeks before he died.

Teammate Sam Calderbank, 30, who knew Robert for more than 15 years, said he and his friend Connor came up with an idea to play a match between players from his former teams — Blackburn Falcons and Wyre Seagulls — at Planet Ice Blackburn. As well as being a tribute to Mr Craig, the game will raise awareness for people dealing with mental health issues.

He said: “The idea when we started out was for it to be in memory of one person and now it’s gone way beyond that and may help a lot of people. I feel there is a massive personal touch particularly because I knew Robert and it feels like the players are all coming together for him.”

Around 40 players, who played for two of Mr Craig’s former teams — Blackburn Falcons and Wyre Seagulls — will play each other and represent two charities, Mind and CALM.

An inquest into Mr Craig’s death, held last week, concluded he died “at his own hands”.

Lead organiser Carl Everitt said: “We believe ice hockey is known as a brutal, explosive sport and, like rugby, quite manly. People do not associate ice hockey with being sensitive and talking about your feelings. Our message is going to be it’s OK to talk.”

Blackburn Hawks player Aaron Davies, 34, from Cheshire, who has played 12 seasons of ice hockey, spoke about his own battle with mental health after his father Emlyn, 76, died on April 26 last year.

He said: “My dad had a massive influence on my life and career and when he passed away I felt very low because he was like my best mate. Before every game I would ring him and ask for his advice and his death took its toll on me. I pushed everyone I knew away. People offered me help and I refused to take it because I thought I was stronger than I actually was.”

He added: “Rob loved the game and rather than thinking about the bad, why not do something to celebrate what he loved.”

More than 2,000 people are expected to watch the game at the Planet Ice Arena Blackburn, which will also be attended by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive Heather Tierney-Moore, who will give advice about tackling mental health issues. There will be a cheerleading dance routine and a raffle. Prizes will include shirts signed by the Dancing on Ice cast and jerseys signed by famous NHL players.

It will be held in the Grimshaw Retail Park venue on Easter Sunday, April 1, from 5.30pm. Tickets will cost £3 for adults and £1 for children.