Clockwise from above: Ely Cathedral presides over proceedings in the Simon Dobbin charity match at Ely City's Unwin Ground on Sunday, May 14; Tom Youngs, coach of the Boughtwood-Eason All Stars, checks out his squad at the pre-match photograph; Paul Wanless, one of Potter's Pros, discovers that something's been eating his antique boots; Danny Potter leaves the field after a fully committed performance – his daughter Sienna proved more of a threat up front, frankly; the teams and the Dobbin family smile for the cameras.
Coconuts has nothing but praise for the organisers of and participants in Sunday's event aimed at raising money for Simon Dobbin and his family. The sun (mostly) shone on a cracking day during which at least £3,000 was raised, with more to come, and a great time was had by all.
Watched by Simon, his amazing wife Nicole and their daughter Emily, teams assembled by organisers Dave Boughtwood-Eason and Danny Potter fought out a win for one of the sides, or perhaps the other, by a scoreline approximating 7-4, or something.
Simon was brutally attacked by a mob of thugs on his way home from United's game at Southend in March 2015. In that attack he suffered injuries that have changed his life and the lives of his family. He is unable to do anything for himself, can't walk or sit independently, is fed through a tube and is cared for every hour of every day by Nicole. She hopes to be able to make necessary changes to their Mildenhall home, and every penny raised can help them achieve that aim.
Ex-U's and many other players – and more than 400 spectators – turned out in force for the game played on Ely City's Unwin Ground. Ely secretary Paul Jeffrey, a United prospect himself at one time, manned the gates as a steady procession of former and current pros passed through. They included Mark Albrighton, Tes Bramble, David Bridges, Jon Challinor, Jody Craddock, Liam Hughes, Michael Kyd, Rogan McGeorge, Tony Scully, Michael Shinn, Steve Slade and Paul Wanless. Even ex-Arsenal full back Nigel Winterburn turned out, and the game was reffed by former Prem official Mark Halsey. Wayne Hatswell was understandably detained elsewhere after thoroughly enjoying Josh Coulson's testimonial dinner the night before, but a fresh-looking Josh made it to Ely, along with dad Dave.
And Coconuts was able to recruit five new members for Cambridge United Former Players' Association: Messrs Bramble, Challinor, Craddock, Kyd and Scully. Shame be upon the Coconuts committee member who was humiliated at dartboard football (provided by Dan Chillingworth's Xtreme Soccer) by a three-year-old.
More of this kind of thing, please. Meanwhile, if you would like to donate to the Dobbo cause, go to Dave's crowdfunding page here. And keep an eye out for details of another fundraising game: United are arranging a pre-season game with Southend.