Football Aid was founded in 2000 by Scottish businessman, Craig Paterson, as a means of raising money to find a cure for Diabetes; a condition his son was diagnosed with at the age of 12. Although a fan of football himself, he had always been astonished by how much people were prepared to spend on football memorabilia and it made him wonder how much they would pay to Live the Dream of scoring a goal at Celtic Park, Ibrox or Old Trafford. The concept of Football Aid was born: the experience of a lifetime giving football fans the chance to step into the boots of their heroes and play for their club or country at world famous grounds.
In May 2001, all across the UK, over 1,200 football fans pulled on their favourite shirts, walked through the tunnel and kicked off Football Aid's first season of games. With the support of a host of footballing heroes including Steve Bull, Gary Mabbutt and Sir Bobby Robson (Football Aid's 1st Patron), it was a resounding success and since then Football Aid has grown from strength to strength.
We made our first overseas signing, Barcelona FC in 2003, giving fans of the Catalan giants the chance to play at the Camp Nou, widely recognised as one of the world's finest football grounds. A year later, our first International event in association with the SFA and our sponsors BT Scotland took place, allowing fans to pull on the famous dark blue of Scotland and play alongside Scotland legends Danny McGrain (our Vice Patron), Gary McAllister and John McGinlay on the hallowed turf at Hampden Park.
In 2005, 'Celebrity Live the Dream' premiered under the floodlights of Upton Park. A Football Aid 'All Stars' side tried their luck against a formidable Celebrity team which included the likes of Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, former World Boxing Champion Colin McMillan, international boxer and ABA champion Tony Cesay and West Ham Legend Steve Potts. No surprise then, when the Celebrities romped home to a 9-4 victory...
In 2007, the Jersey Festival of Football 'Live The Dream' events were part of the inaugural Jersey Festival of Football, sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland International and supported by Jersey States. Our games took place at Jersey's Springfield Stadium in September and were a fantastic success, with Legends Graeme Le Saux, Kevin Gallacher, Pat Nevin, Chris Waddle, Viv Anderson and Danny McGrain all involved.
In 2010, we celebrated our 10th anniversary 'Decade of Dreams' season by announcing that former Manchester United and Scotland Legend Denis Law was to take over from the late Sir Bobby Robson as our Patron.
Season 2014 saw the 1st ever Football Aid Italia matches take place at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sat 24th and Sun 25th May. 4 games took place over the weekend and the stunning list of Legends playing alongside or Managing our Genoa and Sampdoria fans included Mario Bortolazzi, Tomas Skuhravy, Gennaro Ruotolo, Marco Nappi, Francesco Flachi, Fabio Bazzani, Enrico Chiesa and Attilio Lombardo. Funds raised from the games enabled us to make a donation of £10,000 (12,675 euros) to the Ospedale Pediatrico Gaslini (Gaslini Children's Hospital) in Genoa.
The following year another huge milestone was achieved, with our 1st ever England International, in association with EE, taking place at Wembley Stadium on Mon 20th April 2015. We were extremely fortunate to have England Legends Terry Butcher, Mark Wright, Gary Mabbutt and Alan Kennedy on hand to play alongside and Manage the two teams of excited Three Lions fans and the event was all for a great cause as well – raising money for Unicef to help protect children in danger all over the world and transform their lives.
Football Aid 2015 also saw Sporting Clube de Portugal host our 1st ever match in Portugal. Sporting fans flew in from all over the globe to play at the Estádio José Alvalade on Sat 6th June and the match certainly lived up to expectations, with the Home team scoring a last minute winner to seal a famous win 8-7!
Two years later our debut England Training Day at St. George's Park offered fans the unique opportunity to experience what it's like to be an England International for a day! The event on Thu 20th April 2017 saw our players put through their paces by FA Coaches in the morning, experience a behind the scenes tour, enjoy a healthy lunch and then pull on their England kits and take part in a 90 min 11-aside game on a top quality outdoor grass pitch.
The following season we were extremely excited to partner with Chicago Fire Soccer Club to host our 1st ever game in the USA! The match on Sat 24th March 2018 was a huge success, with the Fire Fans Home team just edging an entertaining encounter 4-1. The historic game was organised in association with the Chicago Fire Foundation and featured club Legend Frank Klopas.
Football Aid 2019 saw another brand new event added to our calendar, with our 1st ever derby matches between Everton vs Liverpool played at Goodison Park on Thu 19th May 2019. We also hosted 2 x Steel City Sheffield United vs Sheffield Wednesday derbies at Bramall Lane and a Tyne-Wear match up between Sunderland and Newcastle United at The Stadium of Light. Due to the huge success of the games we're hoping to arrange more Derby games in Football Aid 2020.
Craig Paterson was ‘Highly Commended' in 2003 and ‘Shortlisted' in 2004 for The Beacon Prize - in recognition of his outstanding contribution to charitable and social causes. Craig was also a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2005.
Football Aid/Field of Dreams - Winner of "New Corporate Partner Award 2004" from Diabetes UK.
Football Aid/Field of Dreams - Winner of "Business in the Community" Award category in the Edinburgh Evening News - Lothian Business Excellence Awards 2005.
Football Aid/Field of Dreams - Finalist in the National Business Awards in the Customer Focus and Corporate Social Responsibility categories 2005.