Passionate fundraisers hit the back of the net to raise funds for a memorial to a popular 27-year-old.
Around £700 will help pay for a memorial bench for Ryan McKinnie who lost his battle with rare Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a form of vasculitis which can attack many parts of the body, in June.
Hundreds attended his funeral at Sunderland Crematorium in July which had an Only Fools and Horses theme in honour of his love for the show.
This week, inspired by her friendship with Ryan’s mum Cassandra Conley, charity champion Julie Reay dedicated her annual charity football match to Ryan.
The event, which featured matches between West End FC and Easington Colliery FC first team, as well as the youth teams, was held at Ford Quarry Playing Fields.
Over the years, the match has raised thousands of pounds for good causes through the Peter David Lane Trust Fund, which was set up in memory of Julie’s son Peter who died in a ropeswing accident when he was just 13.
Julie, from Barnes, said: “We had a fantastic night at the annual charity football match and had a great turnout, yet again. I can’t express how proud I feel about the support for Peter’s trust fund, it really blows me away.
“I want to thank Sunderland Westend FC, who help organise such an amazing event, as well as Easington Colliery FC and all the junior teams who made it such a great success.
“And also our little army of helping hands: the lads on the gate collecting and the girls selling refreshments and raffle tickets. They really are such wonderful people.”
Ryan’s death touched the hearts of scores of Wearsiders and was a double blow for his family who in 2008 were devastated when Ryan’s cousin Nathan Cuthbertson, 19, was killed while serving his country as a paratrooper in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The pair were like brothers and Ryan’s family said he had never been the same since his hero cousin’s death.
A further £250 was raised on the night for the Get Your Belly Out campaign, supporting Crohn’s & Colitis UK, with the players getting their bellies out for a photo to show their support for the national campaign.