New ball game for stars

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IT’LL be a whole new ball game for football stars past and present when they take to the field for a charity cricket game next month.

The Hartlepool All Stars annual Twenty20 cricket match sees Hartlepool United legends from the club’s 1991 promotion winning season joined by heroes of 2003 and 2007 to take on Neale Cooper’s current squad.

Among those lining up for the All Stars against the Victoria Park Victors are Scottish international Rob McKinnon, this year’s Scottish Cup winner Michael Nelson, and former Pools favourites Kevin Henderson, Paul Arnison, Joe Allon, Mark Tinkler, Anthony Williams and Brian Honour.

The inaugural event took place 12 months ago as part of Ritchie Humphreys’ Testimonial Year – and on the back of its overwhelming success, it is now going to be an annual Park Drive event.

Nelson said: “It was a fantastic day last year for Ritchie and all of the lads were keen to do it again this year.

“I don’t think much top quality cricket got played – but it was a cracking atmosphere and a great turn-out.”

The match will take place at Park Drive in Hartlepool on Sunday May 6, the day after Pools’ final game of the season at Charlton Athletic.

Tinkler, who took the award for the game’s top batsman last time, added: “It was a great celebration for the lads at the end of the season and I seem to recall a few red eyes turning up in the changing room on the Sunday.

“The cricket was a sideshow for most of the day, and although Peter Beardsley did well, it wasn’t the highest scoring game!

“It was great to see some old faces with a lot of the lads getting back together again, and I think we all enjoyed it as much as the fans did.”

The teams will be led out by nine-year-old Pools fan Charlie Foster who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblatic Leukaemia 12 months ago. Organisers will be making a donation to Charlie’s charity as well as the Hartlepool United youth development fund.

Gates open at 12.30pm with the cricket due to start at 2.30pm. Admission is £3, and free entry for under-5s.

For more information, search for Hartlepool All Stars on Facebook.

Anyone interested in taking a stall at the event or who would like to get involved, contact Samantha Lee at Publicity Seekers on (0845) 2269126 or email cricket@publicityseekers.co.uk.