Football tournament held in memory of Jack Ritchie returns

On Sunday August 21, a five-a-side football tournament was held in memory of Sheffield man Jack Ritchie, who died by suicide in 2017 aged just 24 due to gambling disorder.

Jack was enticed into gambling at a local bookie while still at school and then online on forms of gambling that have addiction and at-risk rates higher than heroin.

The tournament is called the William Ramsay Cup and was organised by Jack’s friends; it was contested by 12 teams and bears both of Jack’s middle names.

There are more than 400 gambling-related suicides every year in England alone, with up to 1.44 million people addicted to gambling in the UK, and many millions more at risk of addiction or harmed by someone else’s gambling.

The 2022 William Ramsay Cup was held at Sheffield’s U-Mix Centre from midday. It was the third time the tournament has been played and the first since 2019 due to the pandemic.

“We all miss Jack every day – we hope this year’s William Ramsay Cup will do his memory proud. It will be friendly but competitive – just like Jack was.”

Doug Daley, Jack’s friend and tournament organiser

The recent BBC Three documentary Gambling: A Matter of Life and Death, which included Jack’s story, featured interviews with several of his friends, including Doug Daley, one of the organisers of the William Ramsay Cup.

“We’re so pleased that the William Ramsay Cup is back. It’s so important for us to come together and remember Jack. What better way to celebrate his life than by spending an afternoon playing the game he loved?” said Doug.

Action from the “friendly but competitive” William Ramsay Cup.

The tournament also raised money for Gambling with Lives and Sheffield Mind. Both organisations were there on the day with information about their activities to raise awareness about how addictive gambling is and its deeply harmful impact on mental health.

Charles Ritchie, Jack’s father, said:

“Jack always loved football. He was a season ticket holder at Sheffield United and played for more teams than I can remember from primary school onwards. His death came as a massive shock to all his friends: they all knew that he gambled but didn’t how addictive gambling is, or the shockingly high suicide rate associated with it.

“Gambling is sold as a fun and harmless activity. The reality is far grimmer: over 400 gambling-related suicides every year in England alone; hundreds of thousands addicted and many millions more seriously affected; a business model built on addiction and exploitation with 86% of online betting profits coming from just 5% of customers. Tougher regulation is needed now.”

“The William Ramsay Cup is a wonderful celebratory experience, but everyone involved knows that it is more than just that: it is a demand for change to prevent more deaths.“

Charles Ritchie, Jack’s father