We've got some great people getting involved for George Howard's Benefit Match, says Micky Collins
The Sevenoaks Town manager has delved into his contacts book and made phone calls and sent text messages during his fishing holiday in the south of France last week to help raise money for the 20-year-old goalkeeper, who is seriously ill in South Africa following a car accident.
Collins will take charge of a Kent Pro XI and they will play a side that currently or have played Kent League football and that side will be managed by Darren Anslow, who along with skipper Richmond Kissi, have had their phones glued to their ears to organise the match.
When asked about his reaction about Howard’s plight, Collins said it was “devastating news” for everybody.
He said: “Anybody that you’re aware of that’s an individual whether you’re in football or not, it’s sad news to hear someone in trouble so far away from home.
“I was away in the south of France last week and I just glimpsed on Twitter and saw what had happened and that he was in trouble.
“One of my ex-players Richmond Kissi made a plea to people to come forward and help and that was it really.
“I felt quite bad about it and then as the couple of days went on Richmond and then Darren Anslow approached me, who was close to George and they asked me if I would try get a side together, which the situation as it was I had to oblige. I wanted to do it and see what we could do for the boy.”
“I’m really impressed with the response I got, very impressed.
“The lads that I rang and texted everybody’s embraced it well. Even people that can’t make it send their wishes and offered auction items.
“It’s really has touched a lot of people.
“Going back to the time when Rob Hughes was in trouble in Greece me and Jerry Dolke (Bromley owner) and my pal Dave and (Bromley manager) Mark Goldberg got together and raised £14,000 for him and it was embraced well.
“I realised in Kent football there’s a lot of spirit and a great togetherness, even though we’re great competitors, sometimes it comes together and this week proves that.
“When you all run your different paths you’re all out plying your trade or doing what you’re doing and you lose contact with people.
“Sometimes it is something tragic that does bring people together but you have to look at the positives and the fact that everyone has embraced it and taken it on board.
“We’ve got some great people getting involved and I’m absolutely honoured that they’ve come out to help us.
“For me, all it was the call from Darren and Richmond to get some lads together and being the old boy I know people a little bit older that aren’t playing anymore!
“Everyone’s aware that I’ve got quite a good contact book and I’ve delved into it and the boys’ have embraced it. Even ones that I haven’t approached have got in contact and I’ve had a lot of great texts from people who want to get involved.”
Jonjo Shelvey, 22, who is now at Premier League Swansea City has put his name forward to play in the match.
Collins paid tribute to the former Charlton Athletic midfielder.
He said: “He’s been fantastic! I can’t credit JonJo enough. He’s been on the phone to me every day texting trying to organise things. He’s contribution has been immense behind the scenes.
“People are sceptical about what Premier League footballers are in it for but that lad is so high in my estimations. I can’t thank him enough.
“What he’s tried to do behind the scenes, trying to get a full-time venue like the Valley, Arsenal, QPR, he’s pulling out the stops he could possibly do.
“He’s flying back on Saturday night from his month long holiday with his family and his young children. He’s coming in with his brother and flying back on Sunday night.
“That just tells you that there’s some guys in full-time football which are honourable and he’s one of them.
Shelvey’s contribution towards the former Charlton Athletic, Cray Wanderers, Sevenoaks Town, Bromley and Gillingham goalkeeper, is unlikely to reach the national press.
And if it does, then please credit www.kentishfootball.co.uk as the source!
Collins said: “That’s press, you know that! You like to sensationalise things and that’s what press do and unfortunately sometimes it’s the good things go amiss.
“You’ve (kentishfootball.co.uk) embraced it this week which is a credit to you because it’s on your doorstep and I know how much you love Kent football.
“Jonjo, Bradley Dack (of Gillingham) and some of the other big names that have got involved and have thrown their names in is fantastic because they’ve got careers ahead of them and to turn up for a charity game wherever it may be is not really their normal thing to be doing when their under contract at clubs so I’m just gobsmacked with the response that we’ve got.”
Collins calls upon YOU to attend Sunday’s game to raise as much funds for Howard.
“My team is absolutely phenomenal! I’d win the Ryman Prem with the team I’ve got,” claimed Collins.
Collins revealed that he’s got a 24 man squad for the game, including Steve Gritt, Peter Garland, Simon Osborn, Gareth Williams, Gareth Graham, Jon Main, Bobby Bowry, Andy Hessenthaler, Nicky Southall, Barry Ashby, Rob Quinn, Anthony Barness and Tommy Warrilow.
He wants Kent football fans to turn out in force to watch their heroes take to the field.
“The last thing we needed is to have a game behind closed doors,” said Collins.
“The most important thing about this is to forget whose playing and everyone’s having a game of football.
“We need to realise what we’re here for and the reason we’re here is to raise money for a lad that’s stricken in South Africa.
“If people don’t donate and don’t come to the auction afterwards and try and buy things and raise money there’s no point putting this on.
“All the effort’s gone in isn’t to just have a game of football. It’s gone in to raise money for a stricken young lad and his family in their hour of need.
“I think we’d all like to think if it was ourselves and our children were in this situation everyone would come together and do the same.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re here to raise money and that’s the most important thing here.”
The post-match auction takes place at STC Sports Ground, Ivor Grove, New Eltham, London SE9 2AJ.
Kissi, who is captain of Anslow’s side, put an appeal out on twitter for people to donate items for auction.
Fabio Rossi, the manager of Kent County League side FC Elmstead, has donated a signed England outfit shirt from legendary World Cup keeper Peter Shilton.
Liam Smith – assistant manager of Kent Invicta League runners-up Lydd Town – and Barnet’s former Gillingham midfielder Curtis Weston, 27, now playing Conference Premier football for Barnet, have also donated items for the auction.
Meanwhile, event organisers may decide to switch the match to that venue and a decision will take place during the week.
The total raised via the internet at 20:30 on Sunday night is £11,394.
Please donate by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/9ktsy0
Kent Pro XI v George Howard Kent League XI
George Howard Benefit Match
Sunday 8 June 2014
Kick Off 1:30pm
at Coldharbour Leisure Centre, Chapel Farm Road, Eltham, London SE9 3LX