PFA Legends v Manchester United Legends Charity Match

What an honour it was to be selected to represent the PFA Aussie Legends Team. Yeah, I hear you all saying “Aussie?, he ain’t no Aussie!” well, yes I am as I hold the Blue passport now and I was also a member of the Australian PFA when I played for Sydney FC & Newcastle Jets, so lets put that one to bed first and foremost.

So the PFA, Manchester United Foundation and DT38 Foundation got together with Galaxy Football to pull off this amazing Charity match in Perth Western Australia.

Dylan Tombides

The DT38 Foundation has been set up in memory of Dylan James Tombides. Dylan was an Australian International and West Ham United professional football player who passed away aged 20 in April 2014 after a 3 year battle with testicular cancer.  The West Ham Family thought so highly of Dylan that they retired his number 38 and made DT38 one of their principal charities. Their mission is to raise awareness and change the stigma associated with men’s health issues with a focus on testicular cancer. They aim to do this through providing educational programmes and opportunities for the youth of our community, to help shape a generation of children who are self- aware about their health and wellbeing. https://dt38.co.uk/pages/being-dylan

Man Utd Legends

The Selected players for both teams included some very Big names as you will see below, but the stand out player had to be the Ginger Englishman “Paul Scholes” who played 499 matches for Manchester Utd and scored 107 goal.

Man United Legends squad: Gary Walsh; Denis Irwin, Ronny Johnsen, Lee Martin, Mikael Silvestre; Russell Beardsmore, Bojan Djordjic, Quinton Fortune, Keith Gillespie, Karel Poborsky, Bryan Robson, Paul Scholes, Ben Thornley; Andy Ritchie, Louis Saha, Danny Webber, Dwight Yorke.

PFA Legends Team

Australian Legends squad: Bobby Despotovski; Archie Thompson; Jacob Burns; Dean Heffernan; Nick Carle; Patrick Zwaanswijk; Robbie Gaspar; Matt Thompson; Jason Petkovic; Ljubo Milicevic; Con Boutsianis; Jon McKain; Michael Bridges; Jamie Harnwell; Steve McGarry; Scott Miller; Simon Colosimo.

The PFA team was put together by the Player Relations Manager Simon Colosimo who made 26 appearances for Australia and won both the A-League and NSL Championships during his Professional playing career.

Now he had the biggest test of his career, looking after 20 ex footballers who think they still have what it takes. To Simons credit everything was perfectly planned from start to finish, so we couldn’t complain about anything prior to the Big Kick-off, and the pressure was back on the boys to get a result.

The funniest part about this whole weekend had to be the fact that Simon Colosimo picked himself to be the captain of the PFA Legends Team, which gave all us other players so much ammunition in the banter/sledging stakes against him and I for one couldn’t let this opportunity pass without a Piss taking Tweet on this issue as you will see from the picture.

 

 

Crown Towers

 

 

We stayed at the most amazing new Hotel in Perth called “Crown Towers” which is a state of the art hotel with casino attached (Very Very Impressive 5 Star) so make sure you check this hotel out even if your not staying there as it will blow your mind.

Crown Towers Pool Area

As soon as I checked into my room I looked out of my window and witnessed the size of the pool area below which was massive, so there was only one place I was heading to top up the freckle count on my pale, pasty body.

 

Me and Patrick Zwaanswijk

 

Once all the players had arrived for the PFA team we headed off for our first training session together, now I had played against many of the players but never really met them personally. But the banter started flowing straight away between the boys and it was as if we had been playing together for seasons. The laughing and joking soon stopped as Robbie Dunn (PFA Manager) put us through our paces once again. Now, for some of the players like Matt Thompson, Stevn McGarry Archie Thompson & Simon Colosimo this was a breeze as they are all still playing State League Football every week, but for other like myself & Patrick Zwaanswijk, it was a bloody tough session as we tried to get the cob webs out of our lungs and activate the legs once again. We still had the touches and passing ability but the legs wouldn’t do what we asked of them, but we did have a good laugh and enjoyed training with a group of good players.

Danny Milosevic

That evening also gave me the chance to catch up with some old team mates from my Leeds United days, where the Leeds team had so many Australian players in the squad at the same time which included Kewell, Viduka, Okon, McMaster, Cansdell-Sherriff  and the two Perth boys who joined the PFD Legends team Jacob Burns and Danny Milosevic. It was brilliant to see and sit down with these two lads again, straight away we started talking about the good old days and laughed the night away.

PFA Squad Departing for the Match

The following day it was time to get the Game Face on and head to the Hotel reception to meet the players and get on the bus to head to the NIB Stadium. When I came out of the lifts there were a lot of football fans hanging around the hotel for autographs, I got my pen at the ready thinking that they would want mine, but then realised that they had turned up for the Man Utd players and I got custard pied.  So, if you can’t beat them then join them, so I joined the end of the queue and got out the shirt that I wanted signed.

Once we arrived at the NIB Stadium we went straight into the dressing room so Robbie Dunn could name the starting line up. You could tell he was a little nervous as he didn’t know who would be upset at not starting the match, but let me tell you there were more boys upset at starting the game knowing they had to endure 90 minutes of football again after so many years out.

Chasing Paul Scholes

 

As soon as the match kicked off Man Utd kept the ball for about 7 minutes and we didn’t even get a touch. Scholes, Yorke, Irwin and Saha played passes between themselves with ease and I thought here we go, we are going to get smashed off these Legends.

Watching Scholes Magic Feet

 

 

Paul Scholes still had his brilliant quick feet on the ball and he switched the ball from left to right with his trade mark long range passing ability. I was meant to be marking him when Man Utd had the ball but instead I just stood there and admired his ability much to the disgust of Robbie Dunn our Manger on the side lines.

Nicky Carle Goal

After the PFA team settled down and started to play our own game, it became apparent that we would have the upper hand due to our fitness levels and younger legs, but we had to make it count and take our chances in front of goal. Thankfully Nicky Carle scored a brilliant left footed curler into the top corner  from the edge of the box to send us 1 nil up and fittingly it came in the 38th minute, which of course was Dylan Tombides number at West Ham and the number of the DT38 Foundation.

It remained that way until half time which gave everyone a chance to get some much needed oxygen again. As the 2nd half started it became an uphill task for Man Utd as Dean Heffernan broke away down the left and delivered a low cross, which was eventually finished off by Bobby Despotovski from close range to double our Advantage. It was game, set and match for the PFA Legends on 57 minutes when Archie Thompson ran free into the box and laid the ball on a plate to Con Boutsianis, who slotted home from six yards.

 

The final whistle blew to the relief of the players and all the children who were in the stands ran to the front to try and catch an autograph and picture off one of their heroes. I have to say the Man United players were amazing and they went around the NIB Stadium signed jerseys and got pictures with fans. All in all this match was a massive success and it was for a Great cause in the DT38 Foundation.

 

We all went back to the Crown Towers for some food and much needed drinks, Beers and Wine of course which isn’t good for rehydration but we are retired now and don’t have to listen to Sports Scientists telling us what to do and don’t after matches. All the players and Sponsors mingled together and shared some stories before we all went our own way for the night.

I want to take this opportunity to say a Huge Thank You to everyone involved in making this Legends match a massive success and more importantly, bringing awareness to Mens Heath Problems and helping spread the word of the DT38 Foundation.

 

The PFA and Simon Colosimo needs a special mention for encouraging and bringing ex-players back together. There are still major depression issues surrounding retired players in all sports and every little bit of support and help goes a long way in keeping people smiling and on the right path to success and happiness after sport.

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