Annual Sunderland charity cricket game bowls them over yet again

The players in Veterans in Crisis (VICs) T-shirts before this year's match.
The players in Veterans in Crisis (VICs) T-shirts before this year's match.

An annual cricket match in memory of a much-loved sports fan has once again proved a catch for charity.

At least £1,800 will be divided evenly between two worthy causes following the event to honour avid football and cricket follower George "The Podge" Summerside.

George Summerside with former England cricket captain Alastair Cook.

George Summerside with former England cricket captain Alastair Cook.

Married-father-of-two George, from the Roker area of Sunderland, who would have been 60 later this week, died aged 53 with the match soon organised as a tribute to the retired firefighter and Sunderland supporter.

This year's contest at the city's Wearmouth Cricket Club was between a combined side from the Howard Arms and The Jacksons pubs, where George used to drink, and fellow enthusiasts from the Barmy Army group of touring cricket fans.

George's brother, Paul Summerside, 55, a retired engineer from Monkwearmouth, said: "The match was a great success with George's friends coming from as far away as Nottingham, Stoke, Birmingham, London and Bournemouth to take part.

"I'd like to thank everyone who has supported the fund, auction and raffle. The response has been magnificent."

The money will be divided between the newly-formed Sunderland Veterans in Crisis (VICs) group in aid of ex-servicemen and women and former Premier League footballer Geoff Horsfield's homeless charity.

Players from both sides wore VICs T-Shirts to promote the organisation's work.

Army veteran Ger Fowler, 48, the founder of VICs, said: "We were privileged to be chosen as one of the causes to benefit this year.

"Every penny we get will go straight to veterans to help them with things like furniture or even a suit to get them a job interview."

Paul added: "George was very much a people person and if he was alive then these would be the type of causes that he would want to support."

Among the previous causes to benefit was a fund to raise £6,000 for Sunderland teenager Natalia Rooks to travel to America to receive pioneering treatment for bone cancer.

Natalia, 18, who told the Echo earlier this year how she was in remission, was at Sunday's match to say thank you for the help she received.

Donations to a crowdfunder.co.uk web appeal can still be made by searching for the George Summerside Memorial Charity Cricket Day.

Veterans in Crisis is on (07398) 916590 and the Geoff Horsfield Foundation can be contacted via its Facebook page.