A family united in grief has spoken of the comfort the overwhelming tide of support from friends has given them.
Ryan Kirk, 19, died when his Citroen Saxo collided with a Vauxhall Astra on the Warkton Road near Grafton Underwood on Tuesday evening.
Tributes and a flood of messages of support are helping his grieving family through their darkest days.
Passenger Charlotte Filer, 17, of Lilac Place, Kettering, who was studying hairdressing at Tresham College, also died in the accident.
Ryan’s cousin Matthew Kirk, 23, said: “It’s just overwhelming the amount of support and respect people are showing.
“Facebook stopped for a night as everyone commented on it.
“I just want to say a massive thank you from me, his dad Richard and the whole family.
“I can’t put into words how everybody has reacted to it and how comforting to see the comments people have left.”
Ryan was a dedicated Kettering Town fan and Matthew and his other cousin, Curtis, 20, of Ridley Street, Kettering, left a Poppies shirt at the scene of the crash on Wednesday morning for friends and family to sign before they gave it to Ryan’s dad.
But when they returned to the site that evening to toast Ryan’s memory they found five or six other shirts covered in tributes.
They will give the first shirt to Richard, of Brambleside, Kettering, and the others to Ryan’s close family as mementos.
Curtis has had 11 Poppies shirts with “Rest in Peace Ryan” on the back made up for friends and family and one with “Rest in Peace Ryan Number 1 Son” for Ryan’s dad to wear to Kettering Town’s home game against Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, which the family is calling for people to attend in Ryan’s memory.
Fans are planning a minute’s applause in Ryan’s memory before the game and Matthew and Curtis will have a stand with books of condolence for people to sign outside the turnstiles.
Ryan, Richard, Curtis, Matthew and his dad used to attend the Poppies ‘religiously’.When they couldn’t get to a distant away game they would play pool at New York Thunderbowl, next to Kettering Town’s former ground in Rockingham Road and play pool together.
Matthew said: “When we were young it was the only thing we would do as a family.
“Saturday isn’t going to be easy.
“We’ll look at it as him watching over us.
“Poppies games will never be the same again.”
Curtis said: “Every Kettering game we go to we will be thinking of him.”
Poppies caretaker-manager Mark Cooper said: “The club’s financial problems have been well-documented but everything gets put into perspective when you hear news like that about a young fan losing his life so tragically.
“We think we have problems but it is nothing compared to what his family must be going through.
“I am sure the right tributes will be made to him at the game and we will do all we can to get the right result on Saturday in his memory.”
Karen Spencer, of Kettering Town Supporters Trust, said: “Any Poppies fan – and indeed anyone else – deserves a tribute.
“The fact that he is young and died in tragic circumstances, it’s good to be able to pay tribute to a fan in this way.”
The cousins are also hoping to arrange a match with friends and players from Kettering Town fan team AFC Poppies, for whom Ryan used to play, to raise money for Ryan’s funeral.
Ryan was also a car enthusiast and modified car owners are planning to meet in the Nene Valley Retail Park car park in Towcester Road, Northampton, on Saturday, February 18.
They hope to set off Chinese lanterns in Ryan and Charlotte’s memory.