As mentioned in the Accrington Stanley programme Vitalijs Astafjevs and Sergio Ommel joined us for the first home match of the season and at half time were warmly welcomed back to the Mem by a packed crowd.
We had Ash Belsten to thank for helping bring them over to Bristol for the weekend, as Ash was organising the amazing Martin Belsten Memorial Match in aid of St. Peter’s Hospice in Brentry. The game pitted BRFC Veterans vs Fans and took place at Cossham Street, the home of Mangotsfield United.
The BRFC Veterans team (pictured) were managed by the legendary Phil Bater and consisted of (left to right) – Standing – Dave Gilroy, Phil, Simon Bryant, Andy Gurney, Ross Weare, Steve Mildenhall, Barry Hayles, Joe Anyinsah, Steve Elliott (Captain), Mark McKeever, Sergio and Vitas – Crouching – Lewis Hogg, Danny Coles, Trevor Challis.
Remarkably Vitas and his family had come from Latvia, Sergio had flown in from Holland, Barry and Ross had come from London, and bucket loads of volunteers had taken on various roles to make the day a great afternoon of fun, friendship and fundraising.
One of the best things to witness from a BRFPA point of view was not just seeing several players meeting each other for the first time in many years, but also watching them actually play together again, and trying to recollect their old moves.
Mark McKeever made it to the ground just before kick-off and Trevor Challis put in his first sliding tackle after about four seconds of the referee’s whistle! Phil Bater couldn’t resist bringing himself on towards the end and it was Ross Weare’s first actual game of football since he sadly had to retire through injury at the end of the 2001/2002 season, aged just 25.
Current players Stuart Sinclair, Tom Broadbent and Ollie Clarke popped by to catch some of the match, as did other former players like Billy Clark, who is also the BRFPA President.
Around 600 supporters came to support the match and when everything was totted up, over £10,000 was raised by Ash and his helpers for St. Peter’s Hospice.