Army FA 2-4 FA Legends
4pm, Saturday 18 May 2013
Madejski Stadium, Reading FC
Gary Neville and Paul Merson were among a team of FA Legends that played in Saturday’s match against the Army FA have spoken of their delight at being involved in the fundraising event.
The charity match was taking place at Reading’s Madejski Stadium and was organised in aid of the Royal British Legion and the Team Army Sports Foundation.
Goals from Tore Andre Flo, Kevin Kilbane, Ben Shepherd and Jan Age Fjortoft were enough to give the Legends, coached by England Manager Roy Hodgson, a 4-2 victory.
Despite twice going behind in the first half, in the end experience told and the ex-pro's finished the day victorious.
Speaking after the game, former England centre-back Gareth Southgate said he always knew they would be in for a testing encounter: “The quality of the opposition didn’t surprise us.
"We’d heard that they were good and we saw how fit they were – certainly the team that started was very bright and we knew it would a tough afternoon for us.
“I think once we’d got to grips with playing again though, it was a little bit of experience that told.
Jan Age Fjortoft, who scored the fourth and final goal for the Legends, spoke of how much he was relishing the opportunity to play again, and of his delight in being able to wheel out his famous celebration one more time.
The former Norway international said: “I was unbelievably excited about the game.
“I had one goal and one assist – and I got to do the old aeroplane so that was great.”
The game began at a frantic page – and the Army side twice went ahead with goals from Jay Bates and Keith Emmelson, but as the tempo began to slow and the pro's found their feet, they were able to see out the closing stages in relative comfort.
Another Premier League icon that took part was former Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann – and he took time to praise the quality of the opposition, and said they were unlucky not to come away with more from the game.
Hamann explained: “You could see that they have some good players, and obviously they’re a bit younger than us which made it harder.
“They played really well and perhaps feel they could have won. They missed a few chances and it was a really good open game.”
One man who was probably more excited than most to take part in the game was former Reading captain Graeme Murty – who spent ten years at the Madejski before his retirement in 2010.
The former Scotland international said: “I think since I’ve stopped they’ve extended the pitch by about 20 yards at each end – that’s what it felt like anyway!
“It’s been a brilliant day though. I love this place and it was great coming back and it was nice to use it for a charitable purpose such as this one."
1 Luke Cairney, 2 Gerwyn Griffiths, 3 Rob Lonorgan, 4 James Poulter, 5 Gavin Greenfield, 8 Barry Riza (C), 9 Sam Agar, 10 Jay Bates, 11 Keith Emmelson, 19 Darren Clarke, 21 Ian Robinson.
Substitutes 13 Daryll Evans, 6 Andrew Cottam, 7 Glen Davidson, 14 Kriss Stephens, 15 Simon Bell, 16 Alexander Wright, 17 Jay Hubbard, 20 Tom Broadbent, 22 Dany Haley, 23 Roberto Cooper-Tomkins.
1 Tony Warner, 4 Matt Le Tissier, 7 Graeme Le Saux, 8 Gareth Southgate (C), 10 Paul Merson, 11 Darren Anderton, 15 Ugo Ehiogu, 18 Danny Mills, 20 Kevin Kilbane, 27 Tore Andre Flo, 30 Gary Neville.
Substitutes 17 Nigel Wiscombe, 2 Jan Age Fjortoft, 5 Chris Kamara, 12 Ben Shepherd, 13 Gaizka Mendieta, 14 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, 19 Graeme Murty, 28 Dietmar Hamann.