A GROUP of football fans are hoping for a night of celebration as they prepare to kick off a charity event.
Manchester United have groups of fans all over the world, and those of a Red Devils persuasion in Hartlepool are gathering next weekend to watch Sir Alex Ferguson’s team take on the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League final.
One of the fans, Paul Thompson, from Inverness Road, reckons there are “thousands” of Manchester United supporters in Hartlepool and hopes for a big turn-out at the Hillcarter Hotel, in Church Street, for next Saturday’s crunch game at Wembley.
While the football fans cheer on their team in the Fever nightclub at the Hillcarter, a charity collection will take place with all cash raised going to the Hartlepool and District Hospice.
Hartlepool Reds member Paul, 29, said: “We never really intended it to be an organised event but given the interest so far, we have decided to give the local Manchester United supporters a night to remember.
“We haven’t done anything like this before, but we’ve had a few informal gatherings for matches and things like that.
“For the Champions League final in 2009 there were about 80 of us in the Travellers Rest.
“There’s a hard-core group of fans in the town, I would say thousands, and I think we could have well over a couple of hundred next Saturday.”
Paul has arranged the event with the help of fellow Red Devils fan Gavin Stalley, 28, of Ashley Gardens, and is delighted to be able to help the hospice through their big night.
Paul, who works for town-based charity Springboard, added: “We’re all from the town, so it will be nice to raise money for a good local cause.
“There will be a charity bucket getting passed around on the night to raise some money for Hartlepool’s hospice and I am hopeful that with the electric atmosphere and the general feel in the room, people will dig deep.
“It is a unique event in the area and we want a venue fill of like-minded people enjoying a successful night for Manchester United.
“If we can raise cash at the same time, then that makes it even better.
“We have to give a big thanks to staff at the Hillcarter for allowing us to use Fever.
“But if we win and people celebrate like I’m planning to do then they’ll make their money pretty quickly!”
Hartlepool and District Hospice spokesman Greg Hildreth said: “We are really pleased to hear that the Hartlepool Reds have chosen to take this opportunity to support our hospice.
“All of the money raised will go to our specialist care services. I’d also like to wish them a really great day and hope they get the result they are hoping for.”
Fans can meet in Junctions Bar, also in the Hillcarter, from 6pm next Saturday, before moving downstairs to Fever ahead of the 7.45pm kick-off.
Entry will be £3 on the door, and more information is available from Paul on 07876680387.