Former Sunderland striker Danny Graham to be joined at South Shields FC charity match by former team mates and stars
Former SAFC striker Danny Graham is set to be joined by other former and current stars from the club and world of football as part of a charity match event to raise money for two causes close to his heart.
Danny, 37, who played over 50 times for the Black Cats during two spells, is organising the game to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK and Heel & Toe, a charity based in Chester-le-Street which provides a range of therapies for children with physical disabilities and in particular cerebral palsy.
Danny, who also had spells at Middlesbrough, Swansea, Watford and Blackburn, said: “I’ve been a patron for Heel & Toe for 13 years, since my Watford days. They’re a fantastic charity and I’ve done various fundraisers in the past to help buy new equipment and be able to expand and help more kids.
"It’s a cause close to my heart as I initially became involved as I have a family friend whose child has cerebral palsy. The progress they make with these children is phenomenal.”
Danny has decided to split the money raised with Cancer Research UK after his own recent experience of the impact the disease can have on families.
He said: “All families have been struck by cancer. We found out a few years ago that my dad’s wife has terminal cancer and the family have been on a long journey with that and so I also really want to raise money to help with greater research.”
The match will take place at South Shields FC’s 1st Cloud Arena on Saturday, May 20 at 3pm and will be a “real family” affair which will also include pre-match children’s coaching sessions, a chance to meet the players involved, raffle, and 360 photo booth to capture memories of the day.
As well as Danny, former England star Stewart Downing, who also played for Sunderland, and ex NUFC player Wayne Routledge have already confirmed they will be playing and the former striker is waiting for definite confirmation from a whole host of other former team mates.
Danny said: “I’ve spoken with a few former SAFC players and I’m just waiting for them to confirm. I will be able to release the final list very soon. I just want to raise as much money as possible. I’m a North East lad myself and I know people in this region will pull together for two great causes.”
The match will also see Washington based team Fast Feet PSG under 11s take part in a half-time penalty shoot-out against the South Shield’s FC keeper where they will also be joined by a surprise current first-team SAFC player.
Danny said: “I’ve been to watch quite a lot of their games. They’re also going to be ball boys and it will be a great experience for them.”
The boys’ coach, Emma Kirby, 25, said: “We are delighted to be involved and the boys are so excited to play their part in raising money for such a great cause. A lot of planning has gone into the day and we cant wait to see it all come together.”
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Tickets have been priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children with mascot and hospitality packages also available to raise extra funds.
Helping to organise the match is Jody Graham, 41, from South Shields, whose son Max plays for the team.
Jody said: “It’s an amazing cause and something the team will remember for ever.”
Heel & Toe development executive Jane Long added: “Danny Graham has been a patron since 2010 and supports our children at any opportunity possible. We were so excited when Danny told us about his plans to organise a charity football match to raise funds for us.
"The event will bring so much awareness about the great work the charity does and also raise much needed funds so Heel & Toe can continue to support children with disabilities in the North East.”
Tickets are “due to be released soon” and will be available to purchase on the Heel and Toe events page.