FIVE England players took to the pitch for a charity match in honour of a Wearside youngster.
Former Sunderland AFC Ladies players, Wearsiders Jill Scott and Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze, Carly Telford and Jordan Nobbs, who all play for the England Women’s squad, joined forces with other former players to take on the current team in the Clash of the Titans charity game.
And it was the young guns who proved victorious, beating the old hands 7-0 at the Durham City football ground.
The event was held in honour of three-year-old Finlay Kennedy, from Penshaw, who has an undiagnosed immune system condition and has to have blood infusions every week to maintain his health.
Julie Twaddle, SAFC Ladies strength and conditioning coach, who works with the youngster’s father, Fraser Kennedy, who is head of Sports Elite at Newcastle University, organised the event.
She said: “It was a great day. Everyone really enjoyed themselves. It was great having people back together again.
“Some of the former players hadn’t played for years and were a bit worried about being able to manage a full match.”
England player, Steph Houghton, left, said: “It was excellent to see people again and good to have a match and some fun.”
She said everyone was more than happy to take part in the match for such a good cause and there was also a raffle of shirts and boots signed by some of the England Women’s team.
Finlay was guest of honour at the match along with his dad Fraser, 40, and mum Leanne Burn, 27, a mentor at Nissan, and even walked the players out onto the pitch.
Fraser said: “It was wonderful to see so many people go along. We have been overwhelmed by all the support.”
The tot’s family are raising money for the North East’s Regional Immunology and Allergy Unit and cash will be given indirectly through the Bubble Foundation, which funds research into immunology, and for the Umbrella Fund, for research into red blood cells and transfusion.
As well as the football match, a charity night was held in Lakeside Sports and Social Club, Gilley Law, at the weekend and raised more than £4,000.
Fraser said: “It is amazing to raise that much money in just one night.”