THE inaugural North-East Soccer Legends Tournament takes place in Durham this weekend with organiser Austin Carney hopeful of turning it into “the Northumberland Plate of football”.
The charity event will see a host of former Newcastle United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool United players take part in an 11-aside tournament on Sunday, followed by a gala dinner and a golf tournament the next day.
Carney explained he had tried to make the event as attractive as possible to the former footballers and it appears to have paid dividends with the likes of Kevin Ball, Gary Bennett, John Beresford, Steve Howey, Bernie Slaven, Gary Pallister, Ricardo Gabbiadini and guest Frank McAvennie among those who have agreed to attend.
“It’s a tribute to everyone who has come forward because they’re not getting paid for this,” said Carney of the line-up. “We’ve tried to put on an event where they can meet their old team-mates.
“Normally with these sort of things they just come to the event and then leave afterwards. With this being spread over two days they’ll be able to spend a bit more time with each other and we think that’s helped to attract them.
“We hoping it can become an annual event as the Northumberland Plate of football.
“It’s a great opportunity for families to come down and mix with some of the great names of North-East football.”
Gates open at noon for the football tournament at Archibald Stadium, Durham City. Tickets are priced £7 for adults, with children free when accompanied by an adult.
A limited number of tables are still available for the gala dinner at the Ramside Hotel, Durham. Items at the charity auction include seats from the old Wembley Stadium signed by Sir Geoff Hurst, an England-West Indies bat and a number of signed watercolours of leading sportsmen.
Ashington’s Kenneth Ferrie will tee off the golf at The Ramside Golf and Leisure Complex, with a number of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup-winning team taking part.
The organisers hope to raise £10,000 to £15,000 for charity.
The main beneficiaries will be Grace House, Willow Burn Hospice, The Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund and the Finlay Cooper fund.