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England International 2015

Monday 20th April was a historic day for Football Aid, as we were delighted to be able to present an England International at Wembley Stadium for the 1st time in association with EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company. The match offered football fans the ultimate thrill of pulling on an England shirt, stepping out onto the hallowed Wembley turf and playing in a never to be forgotten 90min match alongside some fantastic England Legends. The match ended 5-3 to the England Home team and the day will live long in the memory for all those involved.

Date: Mon 20th April 2015
Venue: Wembley Stadium
England (Home) vs England (Away)
Kick Off: 10:00 am
Legends/Managers: Terry Butcher, Mark Wright, Gary Mabbutt & Alan Kennedy
Match Officials: Mark Mellor, Steve Daly, Andrew Stevens, Gordon Manning & Thomas Mellor

With the sun shining and the pitch in pristine condition, the England Home team kicked off from left to right in the current White and Blue International kit, with the Away team playing in the famous ’66 WC winning Red and White retro kit, sporting Bobby Moore’s No 6 on the back. The players were eager to impress on such a big occasion and the Home side, led by Legend Mark Wright, started well, however the Away side, led from the back by Alan Kennedy didn’t take long to find their feet.

However it was the Home side who almost took the lead with only a few mins on the clock, Home No 10 Dave Taylor intercepted a loose pass from GK Geoffrey Thorpe and fired in an effort from outside the area, however Thorpe did very well to parry the effort away for a corner. The resulting kick was headed away by the ever dependable Defender Robert Thorpe and the danger passed.

The next chance fell to the Home striker Mark Sweetlove when he narrowly beat the offside trap to race clear, however his right foot effort slid just past the far post. It was end to end stuff now, with both sides pushing for an opening. However the defences were being led expertly by Paul Jaggers and Ian Pearce for the Home team and Adrian Alcock and Bob Thorpe for the Away.

However there was nothing the Home defence could do about the opening goal, a misplaced pass from GK Pavol Holeczy was intercepted by Raymond Prior, and the Away striker controlled the ball in an instant and lobbed it into the unguarded net from the edge of the box to give his side the advantage after just 15mins (0-1).  

The Home side responded instantly though and they equalised with 18mins on the Wembley scoreboard. Dave Taylor played a perfect defence splitting pass which found the onrushing Terry Rickeard and the clinical striker did brilliantly to go past the out-rushing keeper and slot home with his right foot (1-1). It was an expertly taken goal, though his handstand celebration wasn’t quite up to the same standard!

The team in White were on top now and they took the lead with a well worked goal on 28mins. Terry Rickeard played the ball into Mark Sweetlove, who was making a surging run into the box, the No 9 flicked it back to Steven Hughes on the edge of the box, and the No 7 smashed a low shot into the bottom corner, giving Geoffrey Thorpe no chance in the goal (2-1)!

The Home side almost increase their advantage soon afterwards, however GK Geoffrey Thorpe did very well to block the No 10 Dave Taylor’s shot with his legs. At the other end Mark Clyne had a great chance to level things up, however the normally deadly striker lifted his effort over the bar after doing well to get on the end of the cross. The team in Red were then very unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when the impressive defender Paul Jaggers seemed to collide with Prior from behind with the striker in on goal, however the referee waved play on, much to the disappointment of the Away attacker.    

It was a fantastic game to watch now, and both teams were carving out plenty of opportunities. The Away team’s Raymond Prior was only just denied a goal by a great sliding save from Holeczy, but it was the Home team who were to score next, with the goal coming right on half-time. The ever impressive Mark Sweetlove evaded a sliding tackle from all action defender Adrian Alcock out wide and played the ball into Dave Taylor inside the area, the skilful No 10 beat his man and unselfishly squared the ball to Terry Rickeard and the deadly No 11 made no mistake, sliding home with his left foot from 8 yards (3-1).    

The referee blew his whistle moments later and brought a highly entertaining half to an end. The energetic Home team were deservedly on top by 3 goals to 1 and in the Home dressing room Manager Terry Butcher was impressed with his troops, telling them “Great stuff, I’m really, really pleased”, though he urged them to keep driving forward and to avoid diving into tackles. In the Away changing room spirits were still high and with Alan Kennedy and Gary Mabbutt’s words of wisdom to inspire them, anything was possible for the team in Red in the 2nd half.

Half Time: England (Home) 3-1 England (Away)

Whatever Kennedy and Mabbutt had said, it certainly had an instant impact, as the Away team were to grab a goal back within a minute of play resuming! A quick pass from Bob Thorpe allowed Mark Clyne to pick out Kristien Harrison and the Midfielder split the defence and found Ben Roberts with a wonderful pass with the outside of his foot. The Right Midfielder made no mistake from 10 yards, sliding the ball past the onrushing GK Pavol Holeczy and into the far side of the net (3-2).

The deficit was down to just the one goal now and the Away team had received the post half-time boost they needed to restore their confidence. However the Home team responded well and Mark Sweetlove’s well struck effort from out wide was well held by Away keeper Geoffrey Thorpe.  

The lively Ben Roberts was causing the Home defence all sorts of problems though, and another surging run from the Right Midfielder allowed his team to get back on terms on 60mins. Roberts darted up the wing before cutting inside and powering his way into the box, however his run was thwarted by the ever alert defender Jaggers, but the ball rebounded to Dean Thorpe on the edge of the box and the box to box Midfielder smashed the ball into the top right corner of the net 1st time (3-3). What a strike!

It was end to end stuff now, with both sides trying to gain an advantage. The Home team were starting to create the lion’s share of the chances though, but Away goalkeeper Geoffrey Thorpe was in great form and kept them at bay with a series of impressive saves. There was nothing he could do about the next goal though, Terry Rickeard collected the ball around the halfway line and caught the Away defence unaware with a clever turn and through ball up the channel. Dave Taylor narrowly beat the offside trap and raced in on goal, before evading a despairing tackle from Bob Thorpe and despatching an unstoppable right foot shot into the far corner of the net. Taylor’s well taken goal edged his side ahead again with 78mins on the clock (4-3).

The pace of the game and the hot conditions were starting to take their toll and a few players needed treatment for cramp. However spurred on by their vocal supporters and the Three Lions crest on their shirts, both sides kept attacking with intent and certainly weren’t going to give up now.

Despite all the Away team’s efforts it was the Home team who scored the final goal of the game on 89mins, sealing an impressive win. Mark Sweetlove intercepted an Alan Kennedy pass and bombed down the right wing, he narrowly evaded Bob Thorpe’s brave challenge before firing a shot goalbound. Goalkeeper Geoffrey Thorpe saved brilliantly but the rebound fell to Dave Taylor, his initial effort was heroically saved by a last ditch block from Adrian Alcock, however he made no mistake when the ball fell straight back to him and he calmly slotted the rebound home from 6 yards (5-3).

There was no time for the Away team to respond and the referee’s whistle brought an enthralling encounter to an end moments later. Despite a spirited 2nd half comeback from the Away team the England Home team held on for an impressive win. It had been an incredible day all round, and every one of the fans involved had demonstrated the pride and passion that playing for your country can instil in a football fan. The players marched up the Wembley stairs to collect their medals and deservedly received a huge round of applause from their watching fans.

It had been an absolute honour for Football Aid to partner with EE, allowing our fans the ultimate dream of playing for their country at the national stadium and it was all for a great cause as well – raising money for Unicef to help protect children in danger of violence, disease, hunger and the chaos of war and disaster.

Full time: England (Home) 5-3 England (Away)

Man of the Match (Home): Mike Burke
Man of the Match (Away): Robert Thorpe
Moment of the Match: Ben Roberts

Home Team: Pavol Holeczy, Anthony Parry, Mark Wright, Paul Jaggers (C), Ian Pearce, Matt Dainty, Steven Hughes, Mike Burke, Mark Sweetlove, Dave Taylor, Terry Rickeard, Daniel Chetcuti, Hitesh Joshi, Stuart Morsley, Chris St Marie, Lewis Key
Home Manager: Terry Butcher

Away Team: Geoffrey Thorpe, Tony Hall, Alan Kennedy, Adrian Alcock, Robert Thorpe (C), David Thorpe, Ben Roberts, Mark Clyne, Kristien Harrison, Dean Thorpe, Raymond Prior, Jon Hammersley, Ross Surplice, Daryl Saunders, Rich Hynes
Away Manager: Gary Mabbutt