By Ian Ross
You-Are- The-Ref was honoured to be involved in two highly-emotional fund-raising charity games over the weekend.
Football’s most celebrated platform for the discussion and analysis of all matters relating to refereeing was invited to officiate at Saturday’s Game For Grenfell at the Loftus Road home of Queens Park Rangers and then, just 24 hours later, at the Bradley Lowery Celebrity Charity match at Everton’s Goodison Park.
Our top-team of Mark Halsey, Roger Dilkes, Andy Hogg and Guy Beale willingly gave up their time to ensure that You-Are- The-Ref was represented at two highly prestigious events staged to raise money for undoubtedly worthy causes.
The Game for Grenfell – which drew a crowd of 20,000 – was staged to help those who suffered personal and material loss in the devastating fire which claimed at least 80 lives on June 14.
Celebrities including Damian Lewis, Olly Murs and Jose Mourinho lined up in a game which featured teams managed by QPR legend Les Ferdinand and former England hero Alan Shearer.
“It was a genuine honour to referee the game and is something I will always remember, “ said Halsey. “ It was a terrific day of fun, laughter, football and music and I just hope that the money raised will, in some small way, help those who have suffered so much.”
Bradley Lowery’s brave fight against neuroblastoma – a rare form of cancer – was lost last month but only after his plight had touched the hearts of people around the World.
The battling and always-smiling six year-old adopted his hometown’s club Sunderland’s star player Jermain Defoe as his “ best mate “, led out England at an international fixture at Wembley and was also mascot for the day when Everton played host to Manchester City in the Premier League last season.
Everton were so touched by his plight that they donated £200,000 to the fund which had been set up to try and seek a cure for his condition.
The game at Goodison featured a host of celebrities including World boxing champion Tony Bellew, model Katie Price, actor Shayne Ward and many former Everton players.
“I had the honour of meeting Bradley on a couple of occasions when he visited Goodison Park and, as a parent, what he went through has had a profound effect on me and my family, “ said former Everton midfielder Graham Stuart.
“The game was a chance to celebrate Bradley’s life and raise some funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation to help young children in a similar situation to Bradley, “ he added.
You-Are- The-Ref’s Dilkes, who was fourth official for both games, echoed Stuart’s sentiments.
“I was delighted to be invited to take charge of this very special game. Young Bradley was a special little boy who displayed the most astonishing bravery and resilience, “ he said.