GALLERY: Footballers, dignitaries and hundreds more brave the rain to show support for Whittlesey toddler Effie

Whittlesey charity soccer event in aid of Effie Hadman (5). She is pictured with mum Carly and Posh legend Jack Carmichael EMN-150726-150816009
Whittlesey charity soccer event in aid of Effie Hadman (5). She is pictured with mum Carly and Posh legend Jack Carmichael EMN-150726-150816009
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The applause rang out both on and off the football pitch as hundreds of people showed their support for a brave five-year-old girl who finds her comfort in Micky Mouse and Peppa Pig.

Effie Hadman wouldn’t have realised that her plight had brought so many people from Whittlesey and beyond to the football ground in Drybread Road.

Nor would she have been able to see them, for her vision is limited to a small screen placed just in front of her where her favourite cartoons can be played.

Sunday was a bittersweet moment - a day when in the gloom and the rain a community spirit shone through and showed the Hadman family that it was not alone as they continue to do their best for Effie.

“I’ve managed this team in five cup finals, won the league twice, managed four promotions and been married twice. And I’ve never been this nervous,” said Colin Martin, from Hunsbury Close, who had organised the event.

The team Colin referred to was REC Whittlesey. Their opponents were the Posh Legends, who included play-off hat-trick hero David Farrell, former star striker David Gregory and current Posh manager Dave Robertson.

Former Premier League player Julian Joachim laced up his boots, and watching from the sidelines was Tommy Robson, Posh’s record appearance holder. Elsewhere in the throng were local dignitaries: MP Steve Barclay and the town’s mayor, Alex Miscandlon.

They had all given up their Sundays to help raise money for Effie who has Batten Disease, a disorder of the nervous system which will leave her bedridden and has left her virtually blind.

Effie, who was an energetic toddler, began suffering seizures in January 2013 before being diagnosed with the condition.

She is now fed through a tube and is not expected to live long enough to be a teenager.

The money being raised will help provide her with a disabled bathroom so it no longer takes three people to give her a bath.

Not that Effie has any complaints at the moment with bath time one of the highlights of her day.

Mum Carly said: “Some days she will struggle all day then the next she will be happy. We can’t plan anything.

“We look at old videos what she was able to do and it’s heartbreaking. But we still get lots of smiles and giggles which makes it worthwhile.

“She’s still the same person and finds the same things funny.”

Carly (34) of Yarwells Headland was looking forward to watching the match which saw her husband Paul in action for REC after a 15 year gap.

And she had nothing but praise for Colin and Simon Flanz for their efforts in putting on the day.

“I want to thank Colin and Simon for all their hard work and thank everyone for coming and supporting us,” said Carly.

Colin (44) himself added: “It’s brilliant that the whole community has turned out and is pulling in the same direction.

“I woke up this morning and thought it was all a dream.”

The day was also a special one for the REC players who were enjoying a reunion after many years away from the game.

The pre-match talk from the players centred on seeing how long they could cope back on the pitch before their fitness and tired joints gave up.

One player was even seen on the Red Bull beforehand to give himself a lift.

Left-back Michael Beckett (37) said: “It’s good to get all the boys back together and raise some money for a wonderful cause.”

Greg Roan (38) was with four-year-old son Freddy. He said: “I’m looking forward to it but I’m a bit nervous. I’m a season ticket-holder at Posh and I was there the day Dave scores that hat-trick against Barnet.”

In the end it was victory for the local players as they defeated the legends 3-1 in the rain.

Posh mascot Peter Burrow was also in attendance and took part in the challenge to measure how powerful your shot was.

That was just one of several other activities going on outside the match, which included a bouncy castle that was proving very popular.

A raffle was also held on the day, bringing the total raised so far to over £8,000 with more to come.

You can keep up to date with Effie’s progress on Facebook.