NON-LEAGUE football legends laced up their boots to help raise money for charity.

Players from across north Essex lined-up in aid of men’s mental health charity Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably), in an eagerly-anticipated match at Little Oakley FC.

The idea came about last year following a Gazette interview with footballer Bradley James, who spoke about his battle with depression and urged others to reach out for help and support.

Mr James planned to take his own life before being stopped in the nick of time.

Gazette: Looking for a team-mate - organiser Jack Sibbons plays the ball forward during the CALM fundraiser

Looking for a team-mate - organiser Jack Sibbons plays the ball forward during the CALM fundraiser

The game had originally been due to take place in September but had to be postponed because of Covid.

Organiser Jack Sibbons said: “It was a very special day and well worth the wait, having had to delay our match because of the restrictions in terms of having crowds at sporting events.

“The weather was amazing and we had an amazing amount of support.

“Everyone in our football community came together to help make it a very big and special event - something that hopefully gets people talking and opening up.

Gazette: On the ball - Little Oakley FC boss Matt Carmichael, who helped manage one of the teams on the day

On the ball - Little Oakley FC boss Matt Carmichael, who helped manage one of the teams on the day

“The match was attended by more than 250 people and, in the process, we managed to raise over £5,500 for Calm.

“We’d like to thank everyone for turning out on the day, the amazing volunteers who organised the raffle, the officials who gave up their time free of charge and, of course, the staff at Little Oakley.”

The match was a Tendring XI versus a Brantham Athletic XI.

Mr James and Oakley FC manager Matt Carmichael managed one of the teams, with Mr Sibbons and player Adam Bloss taking charge of the Brantham XI.

Gazette: All smiles - both teams line up for a picture prior to the charity match at Little Oakley

All smiles - both teams line up for a picture prior to the charity match at Little Oakley

“It finished 6-1 to Tendring, so we’ll be looking for revenge in the return leg next year,” added Mr Sibbons.

“Joking aside, it was a fantastic afternoon and among the ex-players in action were Colchester United legends Karl Duguid and Paul Abrahams.”

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