Coronavirus: Liam Kenna blown away by response to his charity football match to honour the NHS

PUBLISHED: 16:53 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 01 April 2020

Liam Kenna lifts the SSML Division One trophy for Welwyn Garden City in 2015. Picture: KEVIN LINES

Liam Kenna lifts the SSML Division One trophy for Welwyn Garden City in 2015. Picture: KEVIN LINES

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A former Welwyn Garden City trophy-winning skipper is at the forefront of a rapidly growing charity football match to help raise funds for the NHS and acknowledge their efforts during the coronavirus crisis.

Hull City's Tom Cairney (left) and Jimmy Bullard (right) in action with Nottingham Forest's Guy Moussi during the npower Football League Championship match at the KC Stadium, Hull. Picture: GARETH COPLEY/PAHull City's Tom Cairney (left) and Jimmy Bullard (right) in action with Nottingham Forest's Guy Moussi during the npower Football League Championship match at the KC Stadium, Hull. Picture: GARETH COPLEY/PA

Since coming up with the idea on Sunday, Liam Kenna has been inundated with offers of support from some famous names, either simply to help or to take part.

But for Kenna, who captained the Citizens when they won the Spartan South Midlands League Division One title in 2015 and calls the likes of Harpenden Town and Baldock Town as former clubs, it is simply a way of honouring the work done by the NHS, work he sees at close quarters.

He said: “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.

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

Jamie O'Hara, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PAJamie O'Hara, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Picture: DAVID DAVIES/PA

The match will pit a team of celebrities and former footballers from Twitter against a non-league XI and is scheduled to take place at Herns Lane, home of WGC.

The first signing though was Berkhamsted boss Lee Bircham as manager of the over 30 non-league team.

Kenna said: “If you’re going to get a manager in then get someone in as a reward for their season. Berkhamsted were top when the season was declared void.

“Plus he’s got a load of contacts with his brother [ex-QPR midfielder Marc].

Brazil's Ronaldo (right) tussles with Jamaica's Frank Sinclair during their friendly international at Walkers Stadium in Leicester.  EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Picture: NICK POTTS/PABrazil's Ronaldo (right) tussles with Jamaica's Frank Sinclair during their friendly international at Walkers Stadium in Leicester. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Picture: NICK POTTS/PA

“That’s where a lot of the players came in originally but since then I’ve been getting ex-Premier League players sending me WhatsApp messages asking if they can play.

“It’s mad.

“Some of the players have said that they would love to get involved but if there gets to be too many, they’ll just be happy to have a few beers and watch while mingling with the crowd.

“That’ll be even better in some ways, having them talking to fans and getting their picture taken.”

Michael Duberry, Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PAMichael Duberry, Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA

The likes of Jimmy Bullard, Jamie O’Hara, Michael Duberry and Frank Sinclair have all put their hands up to play but it is not just players who are rushing to help and be involved.

Kenna said: “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.

“It’s brilliant.”

Such has been the overwhelming positive response though that it brings its own problems.

“I don’t know what will happen on the day,” admitted Kenna. “There is so many things going on and the worst part is you can’t plan anything.

“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.

“That’s one problem. Another is we don’t know how many we’ll get [coming to watch] and it might get too big for Welwyn Garden.

“You don’t want to have it at Welwyn if people can’t get in but then you don’t want to have it at a bigger stadium only for it to be only half full.”

Follow @CharityFC2020 on Twitter to get involved.


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