Mitchell Cole was remembered on a warm Tuesday night at the Lamex Stadium as a match between a Stevenage XI and Cole XI helped to raise vital funds and awareness for the Cardiomyopathy Association.
Cole passed away in December after suffering with the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He was aged just 27. More than 2,300 fans turned out and were treated to eleven goals and an evening of entertainment and laughter – the way Mitch lived his life.
The match action was somewhat of a sideshow at times; with goalkeeper Ashley Bayes taking charge of the drum in the East Terrace and the PA System to sing Mitch’s name loudly – whilst manager Graham Westley and his assistant Dino Maamria also showed a close bond with the supporters by spending part of the second half with the barmy army.
West Ham’s Premier League stars – Joe Cole, Andy Carroll, Mark Noble, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan and James Collins – all played the first half and in that time the game was well and truly decided.
Chris Beardsley gave Boro XI an unlikely lead just four minutes in, but Noble and Jarvis turned the game on it’s head with quick fire goals before Nolan netted the game’s fourth. A fitting moment came on 21 minutes though – the number worn by Cole at Stevenage – Lawrie Wilson rose in the box and headed in a brilliant cross from John Nutter on the left whilst the crowd stood in applause singing Cole’s name to make it 3-2 to Cole XI.
Collins made it 4-2 before another comedy moment – Wilson went down holding his leg and physio Paul Dando ran over, but with worries that he may have hurt himself Westley ran onto the field with a drinks container and proceeded to hand water bottles out to his team in the middle of the field. ‘We all love drinks breaks’ was sung from the Terrace as the referee jokingly lifted a red card above Westley’s head before play resumed.
Jarvis and Carroll both netted before the break to make it an unprecedented 6-2 before Barry Hayles rolled back the years and pulled a goal back – there was a hint of offside, and the flag was raised, but the referee didn’t seem to mind and allowed it.
Tony Battersbea made it seven for the Cole side before Charlie Griffin got the game’s final goal with 12 minutes remaining on a memorable night down Broadhall Way.
Stevenage FC would like to thank each and every fan that came to the game, as well as all of the players who took part. Special thanks must also go to West Ham United and Liverpool for allowing their players to take part in the game, which raised money and awareness for the Cardiomyopathy Association.