Thousands turn out for Mansfield charity football match
Around two thousand fans turned out to watch a star-studded celebrity lineup and raised around £7,000 for worthwhile charities, including King’s Mill Hospital’s toy appeal.
Frenbot, the brainchild of Craig French and Russell Talbot, took place on August 22 in front of a packed Forest Town Arena, despite the weather, with a team of Mansfield men – including our very own Mayor Andy Abrahams taking on the celebrity side.
The celebrity lineup from Once Upon A Smile included soap stars Danny Miller and Daniel Jillings, the founders of the charity, alongside ex-professional footballers such as Neil Wainwright, with the match ending in a 5-1 victory for the celebrity side.
Proceeds from the game went to Once Upon A Smile, a child bereavement charity and King’s Mill Hospital’s Toy Appeal, with Emmerdale star Danny Miller entertaining the crowds as the team’s ‘gaffer’ and posing for pictures with the fans.
The thirty-year-old actor said: “I’m really enjoying this today, it’s a great turnout and the fans are fantastic as always.
"It was a decent game to be fair, and good to see the mayor getting involved.
"It’s disappointing Billy didn’t manage to keep his first clean sheet in net, he’ll be disappointed, but both teams played well.”
Kick-off was marked by Mansfield District Corps of Drums marching the players onto the pitch and performing for the crowd.
The first half was fairly evenly-matched with both sides having shots on goal, but the Once Upon A Smile team went into halftime with a one goal lead from ex-Sunderland and Darlington star Neil Wainwright bagging his first of the game.
The weather turned during the second half and the celebrity team seemed to find an extra gear, with Jem Karacan, a Neil Wainwright penalty, Shane Hansen and Daniel Jillings firing home for the celebs, before Craig ‘Simmo’ Simpson bagged a goal for Frenbot.
Craig French, manager for the Mansfield side, was ‘absolutely thrilled’ with the turnout.
"We’ve raised around £7,000 once all the money has been collected in, which is an amazing amount,” he said.
"It’s been a lot of hard work and so many people have chipped in to make this happen.
"It’s a shame we didn’t win, but I think the lads played really well against some good footballers.”
Mayor Andy Abrahams made a special appearance for the Frenbot side, donning his boots for the last 5 minutes of the game, and paid tribute to the spectators and organisers.
He said: "This is an incredible turnout for a great cause and lovely to see so many turning up to support the event.
"It looks like it will raise a brilliant amount of money for some wonderful charities.
"It’s events like this that should be celebrated – the people of Mansfield have done themselves proud.”
The event was supported by a number of sponsors, such as SB Party Creations, Henry & George wax melts and lottery winner Gareth Bull, who donated tickets to his box at Old Trafford, which raised an impressive £1,000 in an auction.
Organisers are now looking towards 2022 and hope that Frenbot will return for another successful year.