Simon Grayson's charity football match in Bedale featuring celebrity players is called off due to coronavirus
Bedale AFC and club sponsors Heck Food Ltd had organised the fixture featuring a host of big names at Bedale Sports Club on April 5.
The event was to be a charity fundraiser for local cancer sufferer and ex-RAF serviceman Phil Thompson, whose son Harvey plays for the club, and Steve Walsh, an electrician from Leeming Bar who was paralysed by a stroke at the age of 50 and now requires round-the-clock care. It is also a memorial game played in tribute to Steve Garbett, a friend of the club who died of prostate cancer in 2014.
Former Bedale AFC player and Bedale High School pupil Simon Grayson, who went on to play for Leeds United and now manages Blackpool, had assembled an all-star squad including Leeds boxer Josh Warrington, ex-England cricketers Ryan Sidebottom and Steve Harmison, musicians Matt Bowman and Ryan Wilson (Pigeon Detectives), Simon Rix (Kaiser Chiefs) and Chris Edwards (Kasabian), Sky Sports commentator Bryn Law, former Leeds Rhinos star Danny Maguire and several retired football and rugby players.
Former Leed United players Glyn Snodin, Andrew Hughes and ex-manager Richard Naylor were confirmed to be taking part, and the club's head physiotherapist Steve Megson had volunteered to provide medical support on the day.
Club chairman and Bedale High School teacher Martyn Coombs posted on the event's Facebook page:-
"At our weekly planning meeting tonight, we took the decision to DELAY the celebrity football game scheduled for Sunday April 5. I am sure you will agree this was the only decision we could have taken in the light of the worsening situation the country finds itself in.
"The best thing is, when we resume, all the serious planning is in place so it will be easy to get going again. Let’s hope this Covid-19 virus malarkey settles down soon so we can find another date in the diary and raise some serious money for prostate cancer, Steve Walsh and Phil Thompson.
"Apologies for any inconvenience and I hope we can count on everyone’s support when we play the game at a later date."
The decision was taken following NHS advice about the risks of large public gatherings, and because many of the celebrities due to take part were travelling long distances to attend.
The match is played every year in aid of various charitable causes, with Simon Grayson managing the celebrity team. His father and son have played in the past, as have former footballers Dean Windass, Gary McAllister and Dominic Matteo.