Sunderland legends pitch in for fundraiser to support veterans at the Stadium of Light

Two teams went head-to-head at the Stadium of Light and raised thousands of pounds to help veterans in Sunderland.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 6:00 am
Veterans in Crisis founder Ger Fowler (L) with organiser John Stephenson and Sara Arthur

A team from support group Veterans in Crisis took on a side from financial services firm Genesis Protection Services, which specialises in financial advice and support for serving personnel and veterans, supported by former Sunderland players including Jimmy Montgomery and Gary Bennett.

“It was Team Genesis versus a Veterans in Crisis team - it was all veterans and serving personnel from all across the country,” said match organiser John Stephenson, from Genesis.

Action from the game

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“Everybody paid to play and a few people did a little bit more.

“The idea was to raise funds to go towards purchasing a minibus for veterans.

“We have not got a final total in yet, but we think it is going to be around £4,000, which is fantastic.

“There was a lot of business support from the North East and some from across the UK.

British Army (blue) V Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (white)

“Sunderland Football Club was just unbelievable, as was the Hilton Hotel.

“They have just been so helpful.”

John, from Hebburn, is a self-confessed ‘massive Sunderland fan’, so getting the chance to play on the Stadium of Light pitch was a dream come true.

“I got to net one at the Stadium of Light, which was fantastic - Jimmy Montgomery said it was a worldie,” he said.


Supporting veterans is a cause close to John’s heart for a very good reason: “I did 24 years in the British Army,” he said.

“I have done a lot of stuff in Sunderland with the British Legion, especially around Remembrance.

“I was an RSM when I left and I did not believe the support people were getting was appropriate.

“I wanted to give people something better.”

John isn’t the only person at Genesis involved in fund-raising.

“My boss Sara Arthur is climbing Kilimanjaro and doing the CEO sleep-out on June 16, so there is a lot more effort going on,” said John.

To support Sara’s efforts, visit