What a brilliant day we had at St Andrews last Saturday in aid of former Blues defender Joey Hutchinson who is paralysed from the waist down following an accident while on holiday.
The Millennium Legends played a Joey Hutchinson X1 made up of much younger players such as Darren Carter, Tony Capaldi, Jimmy Harhoff, Peter Gilbert, Peter Till etc.
Due to Trevor Francis being understandably unavailable it was a privilege for me to manage the Millennium Legends if manage is the right word? The legends consisted of those players who reached the Worthington Cup final in 2001 where they drew 1-1 with Liverpool before losing a penalty shootout 5-4. By the way in that final Blues were denied a clear cut penalty by referee David Elleray when Andy Johnson was brought down in the box in extra tine. I am not bitter (much) and am over it now (not).
The dressing room at St Andrews was just continual top class banter from the likes of Danny Sonner, Ian Bennett, Martin O’Connor, Martin Grainger, Jon McCarthy, Darren Purse, Nicky Eaden, and Michael Johnson. It was as if they were still training together every day. Only Stan Lazaridis was missing from the cup final starting X1
What shone through was that they were a “team” in the truest sense of the word, with lion hearts and a togetherness that is all too often missing in the game today.
Dodgy knees and bad backs and a few extra pounds aside they rolled back the years to beat a much younger team 4-3 which included a trademark Martin Grainger free kick.
They came from all parts of the country with Danny Sonner flying in from the USA to take part in the game-that says a lot about the togetherness, camaraderie and team spirit that is still there in abundance.
After all these years I now know how a team of decent players managed to reach the cup final and take a brilliant Liverpool team to a penalty shootout? Just being in the dressing room last Saturday told me all I needed to know.