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Blackburn Rovers 2018

Our 18th annual Football Aid game at Ewood Park was another epic contest, just as we’ve come to expect over the years! David Dunn and Damian Johnson’s battling Home team pushed Kevin Gallacher’s Away team all the way and even came back from a 2 goal deficit to draw level with less than 5mins to go, however 2 late goals from the impressive Away team allowed them to take the honours by a score-line of 3-5. Both teams could be extremely proud of their efforts though and our Rovers players were cheered off at full time by one of the most enthusiastic crowds we had all season! 

Date: Thursday 26th April 2018
Venue: Ewood Park
Blackburn (Home) vs Blackburn (Away)
Kick Off: 19:00 pm
Legends & Managers: David Dunn, Kevin Gallacher and Damien Johnson
Match Officials: Ben Wiseman, Dave Wolfenden, Niall Eaves & Alex Beckett

There was an extra special start to the game with former Football Aider Thomas Pomfret doing the honours and kicking the game off in ceremonial style. Thanks again to Tommy for all his fantastic support over the years! 

The weather was dry and the pitch was looking great and our Rovers teams, led by Legends David Dunn (Home) and Kevin Gallacher (Away), made the most of the favourable playing conditions by starting the game brightly. The Away team, playing in Black and Red, were 1st to create a clear opportunity and when Dan Walton played Elliott Cromarty in on goal the elegant No 10 strode clear of the Home defence and looked odds on to score, however his side-foot effort was lifted well over the bar.

At the other end Thomas Palman had a chance on the break, however Michael Kilmartin did well to force him into rushing his shot and it went just wide of the left hand post. Back came the Away team and the impressive midfielder Dan Walton tested Home keeper Peter Weymouth with a powerful low shot, however “The Glove” was up to the task and expertly parried the ball away from the goal.

Walton threatened again when he raced into the left side of the box to collect a clever pass from Andrew Kilmartin, however the Home centre half Martin Davies was in the right place to snuff out the danger. The Away team continued to threaten, with No 7 O’Neill and No 10 Cromarty combining well in midfield, but the Home defence was standing firm and repelling their attacks successfully. Their high line in defence was also proving effective and caught the Away strikers offside on several occasions as well.

The Away team kept pushing for the opening goal though and the energetic Walton tried his luck again from outside the area, but his low left foot shot was saved well down to his left, by the impressive Home keeper Weymouth. Back came the Home team and a great pass from Rob Green found Edward Turton racing forward, the No 9 squared the ball to his strike partner Thomas Palman, however the No 11 couldn’t get enough on his 1st time effort and the ball drifted wide.  

However with 37mins on the clock it was the Away team who were to get the goal their attacking play had deserved. The skilful Cromarty collected the ball on the right hand side, glided past his man and lofted a cross into the box, the Home defence cleared the ball but it fell to Rovers Legend Kevin Gallacher on the edge of the area, Gallacher hit a 1st time volley goalwards and striker Chris Wilkinson was in the perfect place to cleverly deflect the ball into the corner of the net (0-1).  

The Away team’s Alex O’Neill almost doubled his side’s lead with a well struck effort from 20 yards, however his arcing shot was just too high and it landed on the roof of the net. Home Legend David Dunn was desperate to get his side back on level terms and he attempted a 1st time volley from fully 40 yards out after a clearance from the Away keeper, however it was just off target.

Before half-time there was just time for O’Neil to fire in another fierce effort on goal, however Peter Weymouth again did brilliantly to dive to his left and palm the ball past the post!

The ref’s whistle brought an end to the half with Kevin Gallacher’s Rovers Away side narrowly ahead by the only goal of the game. It had been a hugely entertaining 1st 45mins with plenty of chance at both ends and the fans were looking forward to more of the same after the break!

Half-Time: Blackburn Rovers (Home) 0 - 1 Blackburn Rovers (Away)

The Home side were determined to get back into the game and soon after the re-start they got their wish! With 50mins on the clock there was a free-kick given down the left side of the pitch, David Dunn spotted Thomas Palman in space and played a perfectly judged quick free kick right into the striker, keeper Andy Watton did well to save at Palman’s feet but when the ball rebounded to Alex Smal the sprightly striker smashed in the rebound from 10 yards to level the scores (1-1).

The Away team then had a decent chance of their own when Nathan Thornhill freed the pacy Chris Wilkinson with a defence splitting pass, however the No 18’s shot was just too high. Back came the Home side and when a mix up in defence presented striker Edward Turton with a gilt edged chance from 15 yards the No 9 looked a good bet to fire his team in front for the 1st time, however his side foot effort went narrowly wide. 

However it was to be the Away side who re-took the lead after right on the hour mark. Kevin Gallacher looked up and spotted Chris Wilkinson making a great run and the former Scotland International played a perfect pass into the path of the striker, Wilkinson showed excellent pace and strength to hold off the defender and then expertly poked the ball home with the outside of his right boot (1-2). 

The Away team were looking dangerous again and Dan Walton almost produced one of the greatest solo goals we’d ever seen in Football Aid history! The midfielder picked up the ball in the centre circle, Maradona turned past one defender, glided past two more, turned inside the last defender. Just when he looking certain to score his standing leg slipped and it was just enough to send him off balance and he scooped his left foot shot over the bar… 

The Away side were on top now and when O’Neill sent in a dangerous cross from the right Keith Butler could only deflect it goalwards with his head, however Weymouth did brilliantly to claw it away after it looked destined for the top corner. What a save from the Rovers keeper! Soon after clever interplay between Cromarty and O’Neill enabled the former to have a shooting chance from close range, however Weymouth was in the right place again to smother his effort.  

The goal was coming though and when O’Neill took a quick throw-in on the right Dan Walton collected the ball and raced into the box, he then held off a last ditch tackle from Cheng and expertly chipped the ball over the advancing keeper. It was no more than the midfielder deserved as he’d been excellent throughout (1-3).

The battling Home team weren’t out of the game yet though and they got a goal back on 76mins. Danny Cheng collected the ball on the left side of the halfway line and looked up and played a pinpoint pass which freed Captain Ashley Mason to run in on goal and the right mid proceeded to fire an unstoppable right foot shot high past the keeper from outside the area (2-3).

Both sides were desperate to get the all-important next goal and play raged back and forth, from one end of the pitch to the other, with both teams playing some lovely passing football. The Away team almost broke the offside trap to get clear on 2 separate occasions, however it was the Home team who grabbed their opportunity when it came to level the scores with 86mins on the clock! A quick throw-out from the Away keeper Andy Watton left his fullback with little time to control the ball and Home striker Edward Turton was onto him in an instant, the No 9 intercepted the ball and expertly lobbed it over the advancing keeper and into the net from the edge of the area (3-3).  

The Home team had brilliantly to get back into the game, however the Away team weren’t to be denied and within a minute they were back in front! Man of the Match Elliott Cromarty picked up the ball in midfield and jinked past an opposition player before playing a quick one-two with striker Chris Wilkinson, the elegant Cromarty drove into the box and smashed a low right foot shot into the net, giving the keeper no chance (3-4).

The Home team summoned enough energy to make one last attack and a dangerous looking through ball almost saw Turton in on goal, however Andrew Thornhill was in the right place at the right time to intercept the ball, the Football Aid veteran, making an incredible 10th appearance at Ewood Park in our games, then drilled the ball upfield into space on the right wing, Elliott Cromarty was 1st to the ball and he raced clear of the tiring Home defence and after his initial effort was valiantly blocked by the Home team’s Liam Flanagan, he slid the ball home from close range to seal the game for the Away team! (3-5)

The Home team pushed forward in the dying moments and Edward Turton almost managed to grab a late consolation, however he couldn’t connect fully with his half volley and as the ball was cleared away the referee’s whistle brought an enthralling game to an end. Kevin Gallacher’s impressive Rovers Away team fully deserved their win, however David Dunn’s Home team were excellent as well and had made the Away team fight right to the end for their victory.

Huge thanks again to Blackburn Rovers FC, the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, Rovers Legends David Dunn, Kevin Gallacher and Damien Johnson and of course all our Rovers fans for their brilliant efforts out on the pitch!

Full-Time: Blackburn Rovers (Home) 3 - 5 Blackburn Rovers (Away)

Man of the Match Home: Peter Weymouth
Man of the Match Away: Elliott Cromarty
Moment of the Match: Ashley Mason

Home Team: Peter Weymouth, Liam Flanagan, David Dunn, Martin Davies, Keith Butler, Scott Whittle, Ashley Mason (C), Robert Green, Edward Turton, Danny Cheng, Thomas Palman, Dale Rankin, Ryan Mason, Alex Smal
Home Manager: Damien Johnson
Home Mascot: Kaiden Cheng 

Away Team: Andy Watton, Derek McLeod, Kevin Gallacher, Michael Kilmartin, Keith Proudfoot, Dan Walton, Alex O’Neill, Alex Smal, Chris Wilkinson, Elliott Cromarty, Andrew Kilmartin, Dan Walton (A6), Andrew Thornhill, Andrew Williams (C), Nathan Thornhill
Away Manager: Damien Johnson
Away Mascot: Finley Knipe

Match Report written by Simon Farnan

Official photographs are available to order from Matt Nuttall’s website here >> www.footballaidphotos.com. You can also contact Matt on Tel: 07793 818021 or Email: info@mattnuttallphotography.co.uk

If you'd like to order a DVD of the match please contact – Chillpics' Shane Wilkinson, Freelance Cameraman & Photographer on Tel: 07789 500569 or E-mail: swchillpics@gmail.com

“What an experience. Won 5-3 got myself a goal, sign me up for next year! Massive thanks to @David8Dunn @kevingallacher8 @FootballAid”
Dan Walton – Away Team No.6

“9th year, 8th goal! Thanks to all who supported me and played last night. Was great fun as always!”
Alex Smal – Home Team No.17 & Away Team No.8

“One highlight of recent years is taking part in @FootballAid at Blackburn Rovers and last night was no different apart from the result! Excellent experience with some great lads, and a special shout out to @PommyT87 for his outstanding effort to come! ⚽⚽ Roll on next year!”
Danny Cheng – Home Team No.10

“I really enjoyed participating in the event. I thought the organisation was extremely professional so it doesn’t surprise me you’ve had some very positive feedback from the participants. You and your colleagues did a fantastic job and I would love to be involved again in the future.”
Damien Johnson – Home Team Legend

“Firstly a massive congratulation to you and everyone at Football Aid. Having played in one of these matches for the first time last night, I was so impressed with all the hard work and time you all put into these games for the many charities you support.

Secondly a massive thank you. Not only did I get to meet 3 of my idols when I was growing up but also I got to play at Ewood Park. Honestly I'm 33 years old and last night I was like a kid at Christmas. The Mrs and kids keeps asking when am I going to take my shirt and captains armband off!! I’ll be checking my e-mails everyday waiting to book to do it again next season!!!

The whole event from arrival to leaving the Blues bar, Blackburn Rovers FC and your team could not do enough to really make the experience special. Usually with any feedback I always think of something which can be improved on. On this occasion I can't.”
Andrew Williams – Away Team No.16

“I just wanted to express my gratitude for yet another unbelievable night of Football Aid at Ewood Park. I am eternally grateful to you for making some special moments for Tommy on what turned out to be a very emotional evening for him, his family and his Football Aid friends- me included. I know that he was totally shocked and surprised at what we had in store for him and I know how much it all means to him.  It means a great deal to me that the ideas I had were made reality by your generosity and kindness - ‘the will do’ attitude is what makes Football Aid the brilliant charity that it is.

The evening summed up that Football Aid is much more than a charity, it makes the magic happen, brings people together for good causes and where friends are made for life. The examples of Alex's bereavement, Pete Weymouth's struggles and Tommy's illness, injury and loss of his Mum added to the emotion of the evening and I must admit that I had a lump in my throat at the presentation after the match.

As for the match - Game 10 for me at Ewood Park and to be able to do this with the legends, my son and Tommy was thoroughly enjoyable despite my usual earful from Kevin (Gallacher) which I will accept from him because he is a football man through and through. It was great to win the game and I think I played ok despite my advancing years and creaking legs! I haven't ruled out next year as my brother keeps promising to play so we shall see.

Thanks to the staff again on the evening, the club and the legends. They were all fantastic on the evening and all played their part in making it another memorable night.
Yours in football.”
Andrew Thornhill – Away Team No.15