Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland football legends team up with road racing stars for charity kickabout

By Jill Goligher

Northern Ireland stars of the motorcycling world will switch their racing boots for football boots on Sunday as they take part in a charity game in Belfast.

Following on from the success of last year's Road Racers v Short Circuit riders match, organisers Gary Dunlop and Nikki Coates are hoping to top the £10,300 raised for the Children's Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The game will be played at the home of Crusaders Football Club, Seaview on Sunday.

"Last year we had a massive turn out. As soon as we saw the crowd, the adrenaline kicked in," Gary said.

"I can honestly say I was more nervous about playing in that match than riding in any road race.

"Crusaders have been brilliant, they have given us full access to their club room and pitch."

Linfield boss and Northern Ireland legend David Healy will manage the road racers while former Northern Ireland and current Glenavon player Sammy Clingham will lead the short circuit team.

Gary added: "It definitely adds excitement for us playing in front of two Northern Ireland capped players.

"I am so excited about having David Healy as our team manager, I've looked up to him since I was a young boy - my first man crush."

Fans will get the chance to see top motorbike riders such as Michael and William Dunlop, Glenn Irwin, Alastair Seeley and Derek Sheils battle it out on the pitch.

"Although it will be a great day and a laugh with all the boys, the main reason we are doing this is for the Children's Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast," said Gary.

"If we get anywhere near last years figure of £10,300 I will be delighted.

"There will be collection buckets being passed around throughout the match and after we will have an auction where we will be auctioning Michael and William's (Dunlop) football shirts."

The Ballymoney man added: "Last year me and William visited the Children's Cancer Unit to present them with the cheque from the match. It really pulls at your heart strings. When we left I could barely drive, I had to compose myself.

"It is great to get road racing fans involved as they are so generous.

"There are fans coming from Waterford and Galway, with no interest in football at all, just to see us play."

Sponsors Charles Hurst have donated a sum of money for the worthy cause.

"If the match is anything like last year it would be brilliant," he said.

"Last year's game went beyond all my expectations."

Kick off is at 2pm at Crusaders' Seaview ground on Sunday January 28. Entry is £5 for adults and free for children.

Anyone who can not attend and would like to donate to the charity a JustGiving page has been set up at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/racers-football.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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