Ex-Sunderland stars on the ball for charity match

Former SAFC players David Rush, centre, and Martin Smith, back, right,  join Richie Duggan Senior, Richie Duggan  and Michael Ganley to launch their charity football match.

Former SAFC players David Rush, centre, and Martin Smith, back, right, join Richie Duggan Senior, Richie Duggan and Michael Ganley to launch their charity football match.

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A team packed with former Sunderland stars takes to the field this weekend – with charities set to be the winners.

The Match, which kicks off on Sunday, sees Black Cats heroes Julio Arca, Alex Rae, Darren Williams, Craig Russell, Gary Bennett, Martin Smith, Jamie Lawrence and David Rush all lacing up their boots for the game at Ryhope CW’s ground.

England international Trevor Sinclair, ex-Aston Villa midfielder Mark Draper, former Middlesbrough defender Dean Gordon and Sky Sports trio David Jones, Peter Graves and Keith Downey are also set to feature.

The event is not just a chance for former team-mates to catch up though, with funds from ticket sales going towards two worthy Wearside causes.

The Niall Quinn Children’s Centre, at Sunderland Royal Hospital, and Hendon’s St Ignatius Church, are both benefiting from the game.

The professionals will line up against the church team.

Sunderland AFC memorabilia collector Michael Ganley, who is behind plans to create a museum to house SAFC-related items in the city, is one of the organisers.

Michael, of Ashbrooke, said: “It’s a great coup for us to have managed to get all of these players down for the day.

“To be honest, the professionals seem to be as excited about it as the lads from the church team are, so I’m sure it will be fantastic.

“We haven’t sold tickets in advance as we want people to pay on the door, but we’re expecting about 500 people.”

Money raised will go towards helping work on St Ignatius’ Church roof, after investigations revealed it is in a state of urgent repair.

“It’s the only church in Hendon and if we can nip this problem with the roof in the bud, it will be for the benefit of the whole community.”

The Match kicks off at noon on Sunday, with gates at Ryhope Recreation Ground opening from 11am.

Entry is priced £5 for adults and just £1 for under 16s and OAPs.