Walcountian clubmates offer their tributes to shot policeman

The police sergeant killed at Windmill Road custody centre in the early hours of Friday has been named as Matt Ratana, a 54-year-old with 30 years’ service in the Met and who was just weeks away from taking retirement.

Matt Ratana: the police sergeant was ‘always giving’ during his time with Old Walcountians. Pic: Alun Stockton

Ratana had worked in Croydon since 2015, including with neighbourhood teams alongside the community in Selhurst.

Locals who arrived at Windmill Lane yesterday afternoon to lay flowers were often in tears; some remembered Ratana as a calm, quiet and gentle officer, one who would always be ready to listen to another’s problems.

Being New Zealand-born, Ratana was passionate about playing, and more recently, coaching rugby. When he first arrived in the capital he played at a high level for London Irish. Even on the night before his murder, he had been out on the training pitches with the senior players at East Grinstead, where he had been an admired and successful head coach.

Ratana had previously played at Old Walcountians in Woodcote, where he was fondly remembered as a no-nonsense front-row forward.

Three of the club’s chairmen – Mike Bramble, Steve Simmonds and Neil Pemberton – issued a statement last night once it was confirmed that it had been their friend and teammate who had been so brutally killed in the line of duty.

“Matt was at Old Wallcountians for a few years and made a big impression on and off the pitch.

“Tough and uncompromising as a front-row forward, he ably stepped up to represent the first XV when called upon but is perhaps more fondly remembered for the work he did off the pitch. He helped galvanise our second XV with his leadership skills in addition to taking on the little tasks and lightening the load.

Sgt Matt Ratana: 30 years’ service in the Met

“His mentoring of the younger players, many of them in our under-21s, was timely and inclusive, giving them a great introduction to senior rugby.

“Matt was always open for a chat after a game and was found to be reflective, amiable and courteous, We are a better rugby club for his time at Clockhouse.

“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go to Matt’s family both in the UK and abroad.”

Steve Cowlin, a Walcountians captain, described Ratana as “incredibly supportive… a great bloke always looking to give”.

He voiced the thoughts of many when he said, “Feeling numb today. Not sure how this kind of thing happens, especially in my home town.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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