The family and friends of a much-missed Hartlepool dad who was killed tragically in a street attack last year teamed up to kick off a fundraising football match in his honour on Sunday.
Former teammates of Mark Dixon took to the pitch to battle it out for the coveted memorial trophy, engraved with his name.
It was a fitting tribute to married dad-of-one Mr Dixon, 32, who lost his life after being the victim of a one-punch attack in Hartlepool town centre last October.
The match was organised by Mark’s cousin and close friend Gary Horton, of the Belle Vue Old Boys side which Mr Dixon used to play for.
They lined up at Seaton Carew’s Hornby Park ground against Mark Sickling’s The Sports Bar, who Mark also used to turn out for, with the game finishing in a 2-2 draw.
Mr Dixon’s six-year-old daughter Ella kicked off the game, passing the ball to one of her dad’s best friends, Michael Ross, who played for Sports Bar.
I am so proud of everyone who supported the day.Gary Horton
The game will be held every year to remember a life cruelly cut short.
Gary Horton said: “The day was absolutely unbelievable.
“We had over 100 people come along, including Mark’s family.
“Mark’s daughter Ella kicked off the game, passing to Michael Ross, one of Mark’s closest friends.
“It was fitting as the day is all about Ella.
“All of the lads can’t do enough to help her.
“I am so proud of everyone who supported the day.”
An emotional minutes’ silence was observed before the start of the game, and balloons were released into the sky.
Mr Dixon, who lived in Peterlee, went to play for The Sports Bar when Belle Vue Old Boys was forced to fold.
There was huge interest from people willing to pull on their boots for both teams – and pay their respects to friend and fellow player Mr Dixon.
As well as the keenly-contested football clash, a wide range of activities for all of the family were lined up during the day, including a princess tea party by A Bit of a Do, Skyline bouncy castle, Faces Galore face painting and an array of colourful Frozen characters on show.
A charge of £5 to play in the football match was donated to Ella’s trust fund.