A WHOLE HOST of former West Ham United stars pulled on their boots one last time at Upton Park in a match to raise funds and awareness for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Frank McAvennie, Geoff Pike, Lee Bowyer and Paul Allen were amongst those representing the Hammers against a side made up of supporters who had donated to the hospital in order to play at the east Londoners iconic ground before it closes its gates for the last time.
The match has been a regular event over the years. Organiser Tony Hoskin told Yellow Sport: “This game has come about from a long history The wife of my fellow organiser, Geoff Garner, was a patient at Great Ormond Street when she was young, so when we chose a charity that was the one that we went for. We have raised somewhere in the region of £25,000, a good figure, all out of something that is not a massive event by any stretch. Tony Cottee manages the Hammers Legends team, while in the past we’ve had Alan Devonshire and Julian Dicks looking after the Great Ormond Street team. We are delighted that Julian has agreed to take the reins again tonight.”
And Dicks himself was one hundred percent behind the fundraiser, saying: “Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital is a great charity. I think it’s important that we back it to help the kids. It’s great that the boys turn out in support,”
Meanwhile former Hammers winger Mark Ward was delighted to be involved in the match: “It’s a great event, I’ve been to it a few times. It’s good to play here for the last time, see all the boys and all the banter again, it brings back memories.”
As for the match itself, the legends ran out comfortable 6-1 winners in front of an estimated crowd of around the 2,000 mark, many who had come to take one last look around the Boleyn Ground.
Frank McAvennie and Lee Bowyer each grabbed a brace for West Ham, while Don Hutchinson and Steve Lomas added the others. McAvennie was denied a hat trick when former Hammers keeper Jimmy Walker, who played a half about for each side, brilliantly saved his spot-kick. Martin West bagged a consolation for the enthusiastic Great Ormond Street side.
Hammers two-goal McAvennie, who also formerly starred for Celtic and Scotland stated: “The body is ok just now, but I’ll suffer tomorrow. However, it’s always good to see the lads, we just have a laugh. It’s as if we’ve never been away from each other, it’s good fun. Great Ormond Street is a great charity. The people have come down and the players have come along, the boys who have paid to play were different class. They put on a show, good for them.
Story first printed in the Yellow Advertiser. Written by Brian Jeeves