Ex-England and Wales internationals boost Pagham charity match

Action from the Southampton XI's visit to Pagham for charity  Picture by Roger Smith
Action from the Southampton XI's visit to Pagham for charity Picture by Roger Smith

A great attendance of around 400 was recorded at Nyetimber Lane despite damp conditions as a Southampton Celebrity XI beat Pagham :egend 2-1 in aid of the Chestnut Tree House hospice.

Support for the charity was cemented with a raffle that saw a signed 1966 England shirt as the star prize and a barrow of beer won by a jubilant member of the Pagham first-team squad.

Organiser Darren Terry spoke eloquently about how much work goes into the charity each day, emphasising the importance of their work.

Despite typical English summer weather, the sizeable crowd watched a star-studded Southampton side take on the Lions Legends.

The visitors boasted the likes of ex-internationals players Paul Jones, Paul Walsh and Luther Blissett, while the Lions had their own veteran stars as first-team boss John Price, chairman Brent Williams and vice-chairman Tony Shea all donned shirts among others in the name of charity.

The match wasn’t about the final score and Chestnut Tree House made a decent amount from the day as people dug deep supporting a charity doing valuable work with sick children.

With the game played in the spirit of the day, there were probably far more missed chances than normal, although Walsh and Blissett looked sharp for the visitors.

Ex-Southampton player Gordon Watson smacked the bar with a powerful shot after ten minutes and seemed suspiciously way off-target when missing a penalty a short while afterwards.

The Lions were keeping Jones busy in the visitors’ goal, Darren King and Gary Backhouse both having good chances to score.

Backhouse broke the deadlock, collecting a pin-point Jason Geall pass to strike home past Jones. With Steve Rishman, John Tucker and Gary Shaw all making cameo appearences for the Lions, it was to his credit that former Rocks stalwart John Price stayed on the pitch nearly all match, directing play from centre-back as in the old days.

With the crowd enjoying the spectacle as the sun came out, the second half began with King through on goal, hotly contesting a corner but with the referee having none of it.

Jones pulled off a great double save to deny the Lions before the equaliser came. Ex-England international Steve Guppy relived his glory years with a superb run past Pagham’s Alan Paul to score a deserved equaliser for the visitors.

The winner came with 20 minutes to go as Blissett ran through to give the visitors the win they just deserved.

JON ROSE