An emotional Graeme Lee thanks supporters and former Hartlepool United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland legends for backing in charity event

An emotional Graeme Lee has paid tribute to the players and supporters who turned out for the Gemma Lee charity game admitting he can’t thank everyone enough.

By Joe Ramage
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 4:45 pm
The former Hartlepool United players and legends following the Gemma Lee charity match at the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANK REID
The former Hartlepool United players and legends following the Gemma Lee charity match at the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANK REID

Lee was one of a number of ex-pros and Hartlepool United legends to take to the field at the Suit Direct Stadium to help raise both money and awareness for wife Gemma and her battle against brain cancer.

Following her diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour, Gemma has been able to continue her fight thanks to a trial drug based in Germany at the cost of around £5,000-a-month.

The medication has helped to stabilise Gemma’s condition as she continues to raise awareness of the illness.

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The event, which was organised by Pools legends Michael Barron and Ian Clark with the support of chief operating officer Stephen Hobin, was a huge success and produced an entertaining contest in which the Pools XI came out on top with a 4-2 success.

And Lee, who spent several moments after the game thanking supporters and taking pictures could not hide his emotion in what the event means to Gemma and his family.

“It’s an absolutely unbelievable occasion. The funds are vital, of course they are, but we say all the time about the support and that backing and people turning up for Gemma’s cause is absolutely overwhelming.

“It means so much that you wouldn’t believe. It gives her so much strength to know this has been put on by friends and family and fans of people who don’t even know Gemma. It gives her massive strength.”

Michael Barron, Graeme Lee and Hartlepool referee Tony Harrington ahead of the Gemma Lee charity match at the Suit Direct Stadium. Picture by FRANK REID

The awareness to Gemma’s condition has snowballed significantly since Pools’ trip to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup in February.

The Eagles made a big contribution to the fundraising efforts as well as encouraged supporters to donate where possible which helped the family raise well in excess of the £60,000 year’s supply of the medication.

And Lee once again paid tribute to the Premier League side for their generosity as well as Pools supporters for their continued backing.

“The Crystal Palace thing was unbelievable. The support we’ve had from day one has been amazing but things have just escalated since then,” Lee told The Mail.

“It was unbelievable in what it gave us and what it’s given Gemma going forward with the funds and the backing.

“The backing we’ve had from the Hartlepool people and this today with the turnout and the players coming to get involved, and people coming and working behind the scenes for free to make sure it goes smoothly.

“I’m overwhelmed by it all and can’t thank everyone enough.”

But Lee did have one more set of thank you’s to hand out and that was to the players who took part in an entertaining afternoon.

Several of those in blue and white will have been familiar faces to those in the crowd, including Mark Tinkler who opened the scoring.

But with the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter featuring for the legends XI, Lee has praised each of them for making an appearance.

“It was great to see some of the players come out.

“They’re all not only top players, and have been through their careers, but they’re top people as well.

“To come here and support us, I just can’t thank them enough.”