Why ex-Pompey favourites, Love Island contestants, film stars, Olympians and YouTubers are playing football at AFC Portchester
Former Pompey favourites, Love Island contestants, ex-soap stars, film stars, dancers, Olympic athletes and YouTube influencers are an unlikely mix all coming together for a charity football match at AFC Portchester.
The Football For GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital) match is being held at The Crest Finance Stadium on Sunday, May 23 (2pm).
The event is the brainchild of Southsea resident and lifelong Pompey fan Chris Underwood and is being backed by ex-Fratton Park stars Benjani, Yakubu, Lee Bradbury, Sean Davis and David Norris.
Underwood made yearly visits to the famous children’s hospital in London from the age of two to when he was discharged at 16.
He received treatment for trapped nerves in his lower back which he was told could leave him paralysed by early adulthood.
‘Until I was 16 my legs kept giving out and I was told I could end up paralysed by the time I was 21,’ he recalled.
‘Now I’m 25 and I’m feeling stronger than ever.
‘Because the Hospital helped me so much, I just wanted to do something to raise awareness and raise some money for them.
‘The idea came to me during the first lockdown. I was feeling a bit bored and decided to try and put a game together.’
Underwood contacted Lee Molyneaux via Instagram and the ex-Gosport Borough boss has been invaluable in recruiting players.
‘Lee was assistant manager at Portchester at the time and he put me in contact with (Royals chairman) Paul Kelly,’ he recalled.
‘Paul offered us the stadium for free and Lee was able to contact the likes of Lee Bradbury, Brian Stock and Nathan Ashmore through having played for Havant and Gosport.’
Underwood, though, was responsible for getting Yakubu and Benjani on board, as well as former Eastenders actor Tony Discipline, who played Tyler Moon in the soap.
Love Island contestants George Day, who lives in Hampshire, and Josh Kempton were also keen to be involved in the game.
Through word of mouth, Underwood was also contacted by Warren Russell, part of high-profile dance act Diversity, current Bristol City footballer Adrian Mariappa, and YouTuber Brandon Stewart, who has around 376,000 subscribers to his channel.
Other actors also playing in the game are Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Jason Maza and Cornell John, while former Olympian Iwan Thomas is another who will be donning his boots.
Tickets for the match - price at £10 with under-16s free - can be purchased via Underwood’s Twitter account at @ForGosh1
He has already sold around 200 tickets with another 100 left - due to Covid restrictions, a limited capacity has been put in place.