An iconic skipper, a homegrown quartet and the joker in the pack - the Ipswich players signed up for coronavirus charity game

Matt Holland, Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose have all signed up to play in the Charity FC game. Pict

Matt Holland, Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose have all signed up to play in the Charity FC game. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A host of former Ipswich Town favourites will soon be pulling on their boots again to help raise money for the NHS.

Darren Ambrose and Matt Holland will be playing in the Charity FC game. Picture: PA

Darren Ambrose and Matt Holland will be playing in the Charity FC game. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Football throughout the world has been suspended since the start of March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but, when it’s safe for the game to resume, one of the first matches back could be played at the Vauxhall Road home of Hemel Hempstead Town.

The charity game, which is also raising money for MS-UK, is the brainchild of former Baldock Town player Liam Kenna, with ex-pros, non-league stalwarts and a host of celebrities already signed up to take part and say thank you to those working on the frontline. A date will be set once it’s clear when an event of this size will be possible.

There is a strong Ipswich contingent in the ever-growing list of players who have asked to get involved in the game, with academy products Darren Bent, Titus Bramble, Darren Ambrose and Dean Bowditch among them. Also playing is the last man to lift a trophy wearing Ipswich blue, Matt Holland.

Other players with Ipswich connections include Darren Currie, Jimmy Bullard, Paddy Kenny and Marlon Harewood, while former England internationals Ashley Cole, Jermaine Jenas, Emile Heskey and David Bentley will also be playing.

Titus Bramble will also be pulling on his boots for the game. Picture: PA

Titus Bramble will also be pulling on his boots for the game. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

“This is something I wanted to get involved in as soon as I heard about it,” Ambrose said.

“I said I would ask around a few more players so I asked around and Titus Bramble, Matt Holland and Darren Bent are getting involved. There are some great names in there, some full internationals.

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“This is such an important cause and it’s going to be a fantastic day for everyone with 80 or 90 players signed up. Hopefully we can raise as much money as we possibly can.

“I was due to play in a couple of charity events this summer, which have obviously been cancelled, but this one’s different. To have Benty, Matt and Titus playing is great and there are plenty of Ipswich players involved. Maybe we could get all the Ipswich boys together in one team?

Former Ipswich Town youngster Dean Bowditch will also be involved. Picture: ARCHANT

Former Ipswich Town youngster Dean Bowditch will also be involved. Picture: ARCHANT

“Fingers crossed we can play as soon as we possibly can.”

The format of the event has changed on a number of occasions as more and more players sign up but, regardless of how many games are played and the make-up of the teams, those involved are focussed on raising money.

“It’s great to be involved and it’s something I’m sure we’re all looking forward to playing in for two great causes,” said Bowditch, who has been playing for Stowmarket Town this season.

“I’ve not spoken to either of the two Darrens (Ambrose and Bent) for quite a few years because we’ve lost contact, but it’s going to be great to catch up and get out on the pitch with them again.

Jimmy Bullard will be helping to raise money for the NHS and MS-UK. Picture: PA

Jimmy Bullard will be helping to raise money for the NHS and MS-UK. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

“I only played a couple of first-team games with Darren Ambrose before he left but played plenty more with Benty over the next couple of seasons. Both of them went on to have fantastic careers and I’ve always followed how they’ve been getting on even though we’ve lost touch.

“Hopefully we can share a few more minutes on the pitch and reminisce about some good times, both in the first-team and from when we were in the academy together, and help raise some important money for two fantastic charities.”

Charity FC organiser Kenna, who works at Lister Hospital in Hertfordshire, was motivated to organise the event after seeing the ongoing work on the frontline first hand.

“Everybody is just missing football and if we can get a game together and get a big crowd to raise money for the NHS and MS-UK then so much the better,” he said in an interview with the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

Darren Currie signed for Ipswich from Brighton & Hove Albion in December 2004

Darren Currie signed for Ipswich from Brighton & Hove Albion in December 2004 - Credit: Archant

“We don’t know when it’s going to be, that’s the hard part.

“We’ve pencilled it in for a Sunday in July but you could be talking two or three or six months, we just don’t know.

“I work at the Lister Hospital and see the long hours people are putting in. Combining the two made sense.

“There have been loads of people messaging us to help. We’ve had people saying they’ll video the game, someone wants to follow us all day filming, someone else wants to do the programme for free, there’s photographers, sponsors for the kits, everyone is just coming together and wanting to get involved.

Paddy Kenny, briefly an Ipswich player, will be one of the two goalkeepers. Picture; PAGEPIX

Paddy Kenny, briefly an Ipswich player, will be one of the two goalkeepers. Picture; PAGEPIX

“It’s brilliant.”

Also signed up to play are professional snooker players Mark Selby and Mark King, boxer Frankie Gavin and a host of reality TV stars ranging from from The Only Way is Essex to Love Island.