Sell-out for star-studded Gosport charity football match in memory of Sophie Fairall as ex-Pompey and England stars 'blown away' by 'incredible' support

A STAR-STUDDED sell-out charity football match ‘blew away’ those who attended with ‘incredible’ support shown for a charity set up in memory of Sophie Fairall, who died from cancer last year.

By Steve Deeks
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 8:22 pm

Gosport Borough Football Club’s Privett Park was packed out with 3,500 attending the much anticipated match between Sophie’s All Stars and Pompey Charity Squad in glorious sunshine.

Sophie’s family and friends competed against Fratton Park legends including the likes of Dave Waterman, Guy Butters, Shaun Gale, Svetoslav Todorov, Paul Robinson, Lee Bradbury, Linvoy Primus, avid fundraiser ‘Touchline’ Tony Male and Pompey boss Danny Cowley and his brother Nicky. Alan Knight, Andy Awford and Brett Pitman were also present.

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All players from Sophies Allstars and the Pompey Charity Squad observed a minutes applause before kick off to celebrate Sophie Fairall. Picture: Alex Shute

It is hoped the event will raise more than £35,000 for Sophie’s Legacy charity, which was created by Sophie’s mum, Charlotte, after the brave Stubbington girl died aged 10 following a long battle with rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare type of cancer.

Over £10,000 was raised from ticket sales.

Seventeen children who have either had cancer, are battling cancer or have loved ones like siblings with a life-limiting condition were also mascots on the day.

David Beckham and Wayne Rooney’s signed football shirts were auctioned off on the day thanks to Tony Fisher from Waterco and Mark Wells from Blanchard Wells.

Sophie Fairall

Charlotte said: ‘It’s been unreal, I can’t quite believe we’ve pulled this off. We could have sold out three times over. So many people have been asking for tickets. We are so happy.

‘We want to raise a lot of money and bank it and then send it to where it needs to go.

‘It’s really important to keep raising awareness, that’s what it’s all about. The match programme has about child cancer symptoms so everyone who has bought it will have that.

‘To get the players down was brilliant. We managed to get Owen Hargreaves through a friend of a friend – it’s quite incredible.’

All the team mascots involved in the match took to the field to play with the Pompey Charity Team during their warm up. Picture: Alex Shute

The former Manchester United and England midfielder presented a trophy to the winning team thanks to support from Sophie's Legacy sponsor, Aqua Platinum in Whiteley.

Owen, whose brother Ryan was sponsoring the event, said: ‘It’s a beautiful day, everyone is smiling. Football is secondary but it just goes to show the impact you can have for such a great cause.

‘When my brother asked me if I wanted to be involved I said I’d love to give my support. It’s fantastic.

‘It’s amazing the support from everyone (for Sophie’s family). I can only imagine what they are going through.

Queues building outside Privett Park. Picture: Alex Shute

‘Whatever we can all do to help and improve things with children’s cancer is important. People shouldn’t be in that position.’

Former Pompey star Paul Walsh, who also attended the game, said: ‘It’s amazing, I am struck by how many people are here. It’s great to see the community come together in a small little place like this for such a tragic situation with Sophie.

‘It’s absolutely fantastic, I’m blown away by it.’

Former Pompey security chief Mark Poulton, managing director of MDP Security, had to draft in 12 staff for the sell-out event. ‘What a turnout for a fantastic cause and brilliant to see all the players here,’ he said.

Mum Helen Lee, 43, of Stubbington, said: ‘It’s brilliant to see the community come together for Sophie.’

Picture Alex Shute
Pompey Legend Linvoy Primus was on hand to provide support to Sophies Legacy Picture: Alex Shute