Atherton Collieries staged a successful fundraising event in aid of the charity Combat Stress on Saturday 10th September, when they hosted Cammell Laird 1907.
The game was designated a ‘Pay What You Want’ fixture, with the proceeds of the day going to the charity, which is the UK’s leading veteran’s mental health support organisation.
The charity was founded after the First World War and has supported more than 100,000 ex-servicemen and women. Their work is as vital today as it was after the First World War, and the event was one of several fund raising events that the club will host in coming months.
Colls Secretary Emil Anderson explained how the event came to fruition, and how the day unfolded.
“The concept came about when our Chairman Paul Gregory mentioned to club members Kevin Blake and Ricky Brown that it was the 100th anniversary of the Battle Of The Somme this year, and that the Club should do something to commemorate the bravery of those young men killed in defending their country.
“Kevin and Ricky immediately took ownership of the project and decided that we would designate a Hallmark Security Premier League fixture as Armed Forces Day. They then spoke to a representative of the charity Combat Stress to see if they be our partners on the day. They readily agreed.
“Kevin and Ricky spoke to their local Veteran’s contacts and enlisted a number to attend the game. Colls programme editor Joseph Gibbons produced a beautiful cover which listed all those from Atherton who had been lost in the Great War. On the first 5 pages of the programme, all the Athertonians who lost their lives in service in both World Wars are listed alphabetically. The programme is a real work of art.
“At the game, all military veterans and regulars gathered outside the dressing rooms about 20 minutes before kick off. The voice of Atherton Colls Zach Pierce narrated proceedings on the microphone. Ten minutes before kick off the personnel who looked resplendent in their uniforms marched onto pitch leading the players out. When they reached the centre circle a veteran handed the match ball to the referee.
“What followed was a minute’s silence for the fallen soldiers then a bugler played ‘The Last Post’. The rendition was spine tingling and there were tears shed at The Kensite stadium.
“Colls won the game 4-1, the result was satisfying but for once the day wasn’t just about the football. £642 was raised for the Combat Stress charity but there will be more monies raised over the season. A bumper crowd of over 200 attended the game which is in the club’s top three Saturday afternoon home gates since the start of the league in 1982.
“The club would like thank Atherton Royal British Legion, Wigan Royal British Legion and Hindley & District Veteran’s Association for their attendance. We are also grateful to the Hallmark Security League for sanctioning the day and Cammell Laird 1907 for their participation.
“A special thank you goes to Fourmar Ltd who donated spirits and wines for the half time raffle prize. A shout out to Rob Clarke for taking the photographs. Kevin and Ricky are rightly proud of the day and are already planning next year’s event. They would also like to thank the committee who backed them every step of the way”.