On Sunday 28th July local charity team Hartham United played Sands United in the annual Alfie Calvert Memorial Trophy game at Ware Football Club.
Hartham United was set up by Andy and Kat Calvert in memory of their son Alfie who was sadly born sleeping on 29th July 2015. They wanted a way to keep his memory going, and decided to set up a football team in his memory as they both have a keen passion for football.
The occasion was extremely well attended by a very lively crowd that got behind both teams. The teams were both warming up as I arrived and you could see the keenness in each player as they did so. I introduced myself to Andy and we conducted a quick opening interview before he had to continue with the warm up and get the team in for their final team talk before the game.
The teams were lined up in the tunnel in anticipation of the occasion, and I could feel the passion and excitement as they were led out by former Premier League referee Phil Sharp who kindly agreed to officiate the game.
The match was preceded by an impeccably served minutes silence, and a minutes applause. It was then kick off time!
It didn’t take long for the game to kick into action, with a lovely through ball putting Hartham United’s Kieran Wheeldon through who calmly slotted past the Sands ‘keeper to put them 1-0 up after just 4 minutes.
With Hartham taking the early advantage, Sands upped their game with 3 goals in 13 minutes, firstly a stunning free kick from Rob Allen levelling the game. They then took a 2-1 lead in the 22nd minute through Callum Hatcher with a deft lob over the Hartham goalie, when Tom Littlemore then made it 3-1 to Sands after a blocked shot from Rob Allen in the 26th minute.
Hartham then had a corner which was narrowly headed over by George Hale, before he made amends in the 42nd minute neatly rounding the Sands keeper in the 42’nd minute tightening the game up and making it 3-2 to Sands.
Almost instantly Sands regained their 2 goal advantage with a scrambled goal put away by Kurtis Walsh, just before the half-time whistle was blown. It was an entertaining first half, with Sands edging it.
The second half saw many Hartham changes, with 10 of the players substituted, the only player that remained on the pitch from the first half was Kat Calvert, who gave a great account of herself and played a pivotal role in midfield. Hartham seemed much inspired in the second half , and were determined to bring the match back level. They had a shot blocked after 71 minutes before Luke Wilkins struck home from close range in the 74th, game on!!
Hartham were searching for the equaliser that they deserved following a much stronger second half performance, and they hit the post a couple of times in the closing 10 minutes or so. There was also a couple of valid penalty shouts, one of which for handball against the Sands number 16 Nick Hilliker should have been given in my opinion with the new penalty rules being brought in, maybe thats why i’m not a Premier League Referee, but the crowd and Hartham players and management team seemed to agree.
A goalmouth scramble later where 2 shots were cleared off the line, and a last minute shot from Hartham’s “ginge” who was playing in memory of his daughter Ellie-Louise that just went wide it was the final whistle. All the players shook hands after an entertaining game, and the crowd showed their appreciation for all the players. You could see at the end as some hobbled off what they had put themselves through but every single player on that pitch did themselves and all the angels watching over them extremely proud.
It was then time for the presentation to take place, Andy had kindly offered us the chance to select a Player Of The Match, which was a huge honour for us on this special occasion, Micky put the pressure on me being the Sports consultant ( Thanks mate!) and I selected Sands United player Rob Allen for some great play down the wing, a fantastic free kick and setting up and taking some good chances in front of goal.
The trophy presentation then took place, which was presented by Alfie’s brother Dylan to the Sands United team, and after that everyone headed to the bar for some much needed refreshments and the raffle which offered some fantastic prizes Which Hartham defender Chris Greer, playing for his son Joe, and his partner Nicola had amazingly put together.
To summarise the day’s events every single person there played their part in making it a special day for Andy and Kat, from the fantastic staff at Ware Football Club, all the players, staff and fans from Sands United and of course the players fans and staff from Hartham United. I personally salute every single one of you. Everyone helped in raising an amazing £1760 which will be split between both the Sands and 4Louis charities to help other families that suffer the devastating loss of a child.
Lastly I would like to say thank you to Andy and Kat for allowing us to be part of their special day, it truly was an honour to be part of it, and we look forward to supporting both the Men’s and Ladies teams for the following season. Good luck to both teams and I’m sure we will see you both soon