Celebrity Footy 4 Harry, 2013
On May 18, 2013 I went to see the celebrity football match on St. Andrew's Stadium in Birmingham, UK. The match was for charity, for HHHO to be exact, a charity that I have supported since 2010. Among the charity players were the Phelps twins and although I didn't get to speak to them as such, we did come face to face and I took a lot of photos of them, so I've decided to put this encounter on my "face-to-face" site after all. Along with a few of the photos, I took.
It's no secret that I'm an Aston Villa fan, but I must admit that the people at St. Andrew's took very good care of me, despite the fact that St. Andrew's is the home of the Blues - better known as Birmingham City Football Club, Aston Villa's rivals. At St. Andrew's I was taken to meet Georgie Moseley, the mother of the young boy Harry Moseley who started the HHHO charity before he passed away from a brain tumour. I was taken upstairs to the Legend Suite for coffee and a chat with the volunteers, among them Peter Ellis, whom I knew from the Harry Moseley Charity Ball last year. And I was led to a box in the Kop Stand, where I was able to watch the volunteers play before the "big" celebrity match at 3 p.m.
I spent a wonderful 2½ hours in the box and in the Legend Suite, before Oliver and James Phelps showed up outside the Kop Reception to sign autographs along with other celebrities. Although this signing hadn't been announced anywhere, a lot of people turned up. I managed to take some pics of the guys and had a nod and a smile, but that was it basically. Oliver was the most outgoing of the two, by the way, and James sported a short beard.
When the twins had left for the changing rooms, I found my seat in the Kop Stand, just below the box where I had been sitting watching the volunteers play. The players came on early to warm up and James was playing for the "home team", Harry's Heroes, managed by former Birmingham FC player Michael Johnson. They were in blue kits and James wore number 8. Oliver played for the "away team", The Moseley Mob, managed by former Aston Villa player Ian Taylor. They were in white kits and Oliver wore number 2.
After the warm-up, the players left the pitch only to return shortly before 3 p.m. There was a minute's silence for Harry before kick-off and then the game was underway. During the first half James didn't play at all as he was injured and Oliver only played the first 25 minutes. Furthermore there was a mix-up on the scoreboard, where Oliver's "away team" was mentioned first as "Harry's Heroes" and James' "home team" was mentioned last as "The Moseley Mob". This way, whenever The Moseley Mob scored, the goal was credited to Harry's Heroes!
To be honest, I didn't know many of the celebrities in the match, as most of them were British singers, reality stars and sports personalities. Some were interviewed on the big screen by Goalzone's Tom Ross and the twins were too during half time. Here they explained how James is a Blues fan and Oliver a Villa fan. Oliver played all of the second half and James got on the pitch, too and played the last 20 minutes of the second half. It didn't alter the result, though, and Oliver's team won with a whopping 12-2. Most of the spectators didn't like that as they were Blues fans, cheering on James' team, but I must admit that I was quite content with the result, me being a Villa fan!
When the match was over, first Oliver and then a lot of the other celebrities took to the Kop Stand dugout where fans had their picture taken with them. It was so chaotic that most of the spectators left by then, me too, thereby missing the trophy ceremony, as it hadn't said anywhere that there would be one. I'd had a great day out at St. Andrew's anyway and if a similar charity match should surface, I'd highly recommend it.
© Lise Lyng Falkenberg, 2013