Former players and fans combine to raise plenty of cash for charity...THE SADDLERS' Family came together on Thursday evening as former players and supporters helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
In what was CAT Communications' final Charity Game here at Banks's Stadium after many years of support, a team of former players, skippered by Chris Marsh and including Wayne Evans, Darren Wrack, Mark Kinsella, Martin Butler, David Kelly, Wayne Thomas, Brian Palgrave, Kris Taylor, Colin Gibson, Mark Taylor, Andy Reece, Mark Rees, Martin O'Connor, Paul Jones, Stuart Ryder, Kyle Lightbourne and Dean Smith, took on a team of supporters who had won their place via auction and were managed by tough-tackling former full-back, Mick Evans.
With a crowd of well over 300 present, it was a keenly-contested encounter with both teams giving their all. A deft header from Kyle Lightbourne opened the scoring for the Mad Dogs team, but this was soon cancelled out as Stuart Beardshaw fired home for the Cool CATS.
Lightbourne showed his prowess in front of goal by slotting home his second to make it 2-1 before Martin Butler increased the lead.
The fourth goal arrived from Darren Wrack who stole in at the far post only for Will Osbourne to reduce the arrears and set up an interesting second period.
Despite local boxing hero, Martin Gethin, taking the field for the Cool CATS, they fell further behind when Martin Butler added his second of the evening to make it 5-2 and then Kris Taylor, who was given a warm reception from both players and fans alike, capitalised on some defensive hesitation to make it 6-2.
The scoring was complete late on when Kyle Lightbourne completed his hat-trick.
"It was a great night," said Chris Marsh, who organised the event alongside Craig and Penny Lang of CAT Communications. "It was nice to see so many former players turn out and there was a good crowd which helped us to raise plenty of funds for the Balls to Cancer and Last Chance Hotel Animal Rescue Charities.
"The game itself was a good battle. The supporters' team did well but in the end that extra bit of quality from the former players showed through, even if they didn't quite have the legs of some of their opponents!
"It was my last-ever game too. I always wanted to finish at Banks's Stadium alongside some special former team-mates and I did that. It was a nice way to bow out and I really appreciate the turn out.
"Walsall FC has always been about team spirit and togetherness and it showed through on Thursday evening. In fact, I was under pressure picking our team because so many former players turned up wanting a game!
"Fair play to the supporters too because they have always been first-class with me, as have Craig and Penny at CAT Communications.
"It's because of Craig's commitment to his hometown club through sponsorship and community involvement over many years that I wanted to make his last Charity Game special, and I think we managed to achieve that.
"As I say, the main thing was that we raised plenty of cash for Charity and everyone had a good time in the process.
"The Saddlers are my club, and that will always be the case. Dean Smith is doing a great job here whilst off-the-field the club has been run extremely well over so many years and are a shining example to other clubs."
We thank CAT Communications for the backing that they have given the club over the years.