By Mark Halsey
With the Premier League on an international break, this weekend provided the setting for myself to be involved in two memorable occasions. I was afforded the opportunity to roll back the years and referee two charity games, it truly was an honour and a privilege to be asked by both QPR – my boyhood team – and Everton to referee these games for two great causes.
Having followed QPR for so many years, to go back to Loftus Road and step on the hallowed turf was memorable for me. The sell-out crowd showed how much it meant to people who support those caught up in the Grenfell tower disaster. And those brave fire-fighters who went in to the tower to help is truly heroic; the ovation they all received was overwhelming and emotional.
At Goodison on Sunday we had another great turn-out to remember Bradley Lowery and his brave fight against neuroblastoma. I’m still alive because of The Christie, I’m one of the lucky ones who survived cancer. My wife is fighting leukemia with a cancer drug called Tasigna that she has to take twice a day, so this is something that is very close to my heart.
It was great to be involved and fantastic to see all the personalities, the celebrities, ex footballers take part. The way they embrace me and my team of Roger Dilkes, Andy Hogg and Guy Beale was much appreciated and it was great, in particular, to see my old friend Jose Mourinho again. The way everyone conducted themselves was outstanding and I’m very proud that You Are The Ref were able to contribute to such a poignant weekend.
The turnout and feedback we have received following these games just goes to show that I think we are the best in the world at showing solidarity when these unfortunate circumstances happen. Both games were a touching way to remember Bradley and those who lost their lives in the Grenfell tower disaster, and I’m pleased to say the occasion was played out in such a reverent and moving manner.
When I heard about refereeing these two games, and with Kilimanjaro coming up, I felt like I had my motivation back.
Over the last few months I’ve been able to shed a few pounds which I’m very pleased about, and now with these two games finished, my priority turns to Kilimanjaro. I’m looking forward to heading up to Chorley for some altitude training in the next few weeks, so it’s all systems go.
I would very much appreciate if you could support my cause by giving what you can on my Just Giving page.