Former Premier League stars used to football’s biggest stadiums laced up their boots in the more humble surroundings of In2itive Park in Yaxley to try and defeat their biggest opponent - cancer.
Ex-England defender Des Walker and former Wimbledon player Marcus Gayle fronted up against members of the public chosen through a blind auction for a match which left everyone a winner.
Saturday was the fifth annual Football vs. Cancer charity match, and once again a number of celebrities turned out to raise a huge amount of money which this year will go to Anna’s Hope – a local not-for-profit charity which gives hope to children and young people diagnosed with brain tumours.
Event founder Raphael Frascogna said he expected that more than £13,000 has been raised from the match, as well as the gala dinner and charity auction at the Holiday Inn where the celebrities dined alongside the public.
Raphael said: “This event wouldn’t happen without the tireless work of all the volunteers, plus the celebrities that donate their time for free, the public team players who bid several hundred pounds to play, as well as the evening guests, all of the generous sponsors and those who donate auction and raffle prizes.”
This year’s star raffle prize was a voucher code worth £2,500 which was donated by loveholidays.com to spend through their website.
The match began at 2pm, and the spectators enjoying the sweltering weather could marvel at the defensive pairing of former World Cup footballers Des and Marcus, with DJ Krafty Kuts in midfield alongside Coronation Street’s Dean Fagan.
Up front were Ellis Hollins of Hollyoaks and former English super featherweight boxing champion Ben “Duracell” Jones. Running things from the sideline was returning favourite Paul Canoville, who is well known for being Chelsea’s first black footballer and a community mentor.
Things looked ominous for the ‘civilian’ team after they conceded a goal in just the first minute of the match, but after going into the break 2-1 down they turned things around in the second-half with four goals, despite a 35-yard wonder goal from Marcus.
Local footballer Jason McCullock took the Player of the Match title after a top display for the winning side.
Carole Hughes , founder of Anna’s Hope said: “On behalf of Anna’s Hope I would like to thank the organisers, the celebrities and the civilian players. Once again it was a great match and the children with brain tumours and their families who attended the game were made to feel really special.
“There is so much hard work that goes into this event, including the dinner in the evening, and we really appreciate the fundraising and awareness that Football vs. Cancer achieves.”
Photos from the day can be seen on this article.