STARS ON PARADE IN TRIBUTE MATCH
MITCHELL COLE would have looked down on Broadhall Way a proud man on Tuesday night, as some of British football’s top names gave the tragic ex-Stevenage winger a send-off to remember.
Cole died suddenly in November last year, aged 27, before a game of five-a-side. The heart condition that hindered his career from his teens at West Ham to forcing his retirement at Oxford in 2011, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, was to blame.
His third child, daughter Leni Boo, was born a week later and she, sister Rhys, 7, and brother Georgie, 5, wore strips with ‘DADDY’ on in leading the teams out for his benefit game.
Holding their hands was uncle Joe Cole, brother of the three-times FA Trophy winner’s wife Charly and better known as the Hammers and England midfielder.
Upton Park manager Sam Allardyce also sent star striker Andy Carroll, Matt Jarvis, Mark Noble, James Collins and captain Kevin Nolan, and Mitchell’s former Grays teammate Gary Hooper, the Celtic striker, turned out.
The game finished 7-4 to the Hammers-inspired Cole XI over a Boro team, with onloan Liverpool hitman Carroll playing along with the 2,300strong crowd’s banter over an effort that cleared the stand behind the goal.“You’ll never play for Boro,” they chanted.
It was that kind of night. The football came second, although Charlton’s Lawrie Wilson did score while the crowd applauded during the 21st-minute – Cole’s number when winning the Conference title with Boro in 2009-10.
Ashley Bayes, the funloving ex-keeper, led the fans’ Spandau Ballet ‘Gold’ tributes to Cole by beating their huge drum after halftime.
“What a turn-out from the fans and the top players,” said Cole XI manager Mark Stimson, who took the winger to both Grays and Boro.
“Mitch would have been looking down with a smile, knowing he wouldn’t have been out of place in that company himself.”
ORGANISER: Joe Cole