Town to host two football matches in aid of charities

TWO charity football matches are being played in Blyth this weekend – one in memory of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, the other to raise money for emergency services workers injured in the line of duty.

Michael Sweeney, a guardsman in the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, was killed in the Babaji district of central Helmand Province in April last year.

The 19-year-old, originally from Lindsay Avenue in Blyth, was on foot patrol at the time of the explosion.

His family have been fundraising for the Army Benevolent Fund since his death, and last year they organised a charity football match at the Hirst Miners’ Welfare Club ground in Ashington.

They have lined up another game on Saturday, at Blyth Spartans’ Croft Park ground, in memory of Michael and also a second match commemorating his Coldstream Guards colleague John Amer, of Sunderland.

The first match, kicking off at 11am, will see a team of Michael’s friends facing a side made up of Coldstream Guards travelling up from London.

The second match will start at 2pm.

The Coldstream Guards’ drum corps will play before, after and at half-time for both matches.

The minimum donation entry fee is £2, with children free when accompanied by adults.

Trophies and medals will be given out by BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Jonathan Miles.

The day after, David Rathband, pictured, the Cramlington police officer shot and left blind by gunman Raoul Moat will kick off another charity football game elsewhere in the town.

That match will see a Blyth Town over-40s side play a Middlesbrough Football Club over-40s team to raise money for Pc Rathband’s Blue Lamp Foundation and also research into motor neurone disease.

Middlesbrough’s team will include Steve Gibson, Craig Hignett, Steve Agnew, Viv Anderson and Curtis Fleming. It will be managed by Gordon McQueen.

The match will be held at Blyth Town’s South Newsham home ground and is scheduled for a 2pm kick-off.