Graeme Lee and Hartlepool United legends including former Sunderland and Ipswich Town midfielder and ex-Middlesbrough goalkeeper to return for charity match at the Suit Direct Stadium

Hartlepool United legends of the past will put on their boots once again at the Suit Direct Stadium as the club is set to play host to a charity match next month.

By Joe Ramage
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 12:30 pm

An all-star cast of former Pools stars will take on a Legends XI, as selected by manager Graeme Lee, all in aid of raising money for Lee’s wife, Gemma, and fundraising for her brain tumour treatment.

Gemma was told she had 12 months to live in 2019 following a cancerous brain tumour diagnosis.

But despite her diagnosis, Gemma is alive thanks to a trial drug called ONC201 after the couple extensively searched worldwide for potential treatments.

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The Suit Direct Stadium will welcome back Hartlepool United legends for a charity match next month. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Although Gemma's condition remains, her most recent scans were classed as 'stable', meaning the cancer has not worsened.

And now some of Pools’ former heroes will show their support for Lee and his family by competing on the field once more.

Ian Clark and Michael Barron, two of Lee’s ex-team-mates at Hartlepool, have organised the event with the support of the club’s chief operating officer Stephen Hobin and kit supplier Motif8, who will provide the strips for both teams on the day.

Tommy Miller, Adam Boyd, Dimi Konstantopoulos and Mark Tinkler are just some of the names who will wear the blue and white shirts to help raise money for former team-mate Lee’s wife, Gemma, on Monday, May 2.

Graeme Lee thanked Crystal Palace for their generosity earlier this season for their support towards wife, Gemma, and her fundraising. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

And Lee has chosen the first set of names who will compete for the Legends XI with the likes of Neil Maddison, James Coppinger, Neal Bishop and Graham Kavanagh all to feature with more names to be confirmed in the days ahead.

Stockton-born Clark, who made over 150 appearances for Pools between 1997-2001, said: “Football has always played a massive part in our lives and is the reason I met Gemma through Spike [Graeme Lee].

“We have been friends for over 25 years and both have been at each other’s side at our weddings.

“Spike and Gem are godparents to my two eldest children, so to be able to be involved in something to try to help in some way is the least I can do.

“I couldn’t imagine what Gem goes through and the worry of raising these funds is unthinkable.

“We want this to be a fun, competitive game with all proceeds going to Gem’s fund.

“All players have given up their time to support Gem. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see their Pools heroes and some fantastic names in football.”

Michael Barron, who is one of Pools’ top-10 all time appearance makers over an 11 year spell, also commented on the upcoming event: “We have known Graeme and Gemma for a long time and wanted to do something to help Gemma raise money for the medicine to keep her alive.

“We tried to organise something before but Covid spoiled our plans. We just want to do our bit to show the Lee family how much we all love them and want to do everything we can for them all.

“We are organising squads and have managers lined up. We will wear a kit we are hoping to raffle or sell after the game to help the fund.

“We want to make it a fun, family day and one that we can all enjoy. A lot of ex-players are really keen to play and make it a memorable day – in fact it’s like they all want to play No 10 and score goals.”

The charity fundraising adds to what has already seen remarkable awareness raised to Lee’s wife and her condition following the generosity of Premier League side Crystal Palace.

Pools travelled to Selhurst Park to face the Eagles in the FA Cup fourth round earlier this season with the Premier League side donating a significant sum of money to the fundraising as well as encouraging Palace supporters to donate where possible.

With the help of the Premier League side, who defeated Pools 2-0 on the afternoon, Lee and his wife saw their fundraising tally surpass £80,000 which in turn will help provide Gemma with over a year’s supply of the lifesaving drug.

“On a personal note, what Crystal Palace have done for me and the family is absolutely immense and I’ll never forget it,” Lee said when speaking after the FA Cup tie in February.

“This game was a big game [for me]. I would have remembered this game no matter what but for what Crystal Palace and their supporters have done, I think the funds have already gone above a year's supply of medication for my wife which for us, knowing we’ve got that, is absolutely unbelievable.

“Not only the funds but the support as well. That means as much as the money because my wife knowing there’s that many people supporting her and giving her well wishes, there can only be positive things from it.

“I’ll support Crystal Palace now and hope they do well and want them to win and succeed because of what they’ve done for us.”

The Hartlepool United Legends v Graeme Lee’s Legends game will kick-off at 2pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2 at the Suit Direct Stadium.

Tickets are priced £7.50 for adults, £5 for Over-65s and £2.50 for Under-16s.

To purchase tickets send an email to [email protected] with your name and how many tickets you would like to purchase.

Tickets will also be available on the day at the gate but buying in advance is recommended.