Basford United have confirmed the charity game for Samantha Birtles will go ahead after she lost her long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Samantha, the wife of Nottingham Forest Legend Garry Birtles, was diagnosed in April 2019 and outlived her initial prognosis by more than a year before sadly passing away on Thursday at the age of 56.
The game is to take place at Greenwich Avenue on Sunday, 27 June and Samantha’s family and friends will be in attendance.
Current United boss Steve Chettle, an apprentice during Garry’s time at the City Ground, said: “I became aware of Samantha’s passing after a message from Garry sending the terribly sad news.
“We are all devastated, and I would like to pass on mine and the Club’s condolences to Garry and Samantha’s families.
“Hopefully, we can celebrate Samantha’s life on Sunday, and continue to raise money for the wonderful Treetops Hospice in honour of her.”
The football world has rallied around the Birtles family since fundraising by Samantha’s former work colleague Sally Pembleton began in February and a list of over 50 ex-players have volunteered to play some part in the match.
Donations to Treetops, all in Samantha’s name, has reached over £25,000 to date and further funds will be raised at the game, which will feature a host of star-studded names.
A Garry Birtles XI, managed by Martin O’Neill and Nigel Clough and to include a wide range of ex-Forest players, will go up against a Kevin Keegan Treetops Legends XI, jointly managed by Kevin Nolan.
Mark Crossley, Des Walker, Chris Cohen, Andy Reid, Michael Dawson and Marlon Harewood are amongst the former Trentside favourites involved and many other notable ex-pros have pledged their support, including Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Clinton Morrison and Lee Hendrie.
BT Sport commentator and Nottingham-bred Darren Fletcher will be posing questions on the day.
Signed memorabilia will also be available via an online auction – hosted by John Pye Auctions – and include a framed football boot signed by Argentinian great Diego Maradona and a Harry Kane signed Tottenham Hotspur shirt.
A Real Madrid jersey autographed by Cristiano Ronaldo and an England Euro 2020 kit, donated by manager Gareth Southgate, are also up for grabs, with all proceeds going toward Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire-based Treetops, who provided care and support throughout Samantha’s illness.
Aston Villa star and former Notts County loanee Jack Grealish has also contributed to the auction which runs until Wednesday, June 30, as has Worksop-born golfer Lee Westwood.
Tickets for the event are sold out but purchases via United’s virtual ticket incentive can still be made at the Club’s online shop.
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @garrybirtles09 Garry & Samantha Birtles who sadly lost her battle to cancer.