Former footballer Mark Taylor has said he is touched by the support of the local community ahead of a charity match in his honour this weekend.
Having lifted the FA Carlsberg Vase in 2009 with his hometown club Whitley Bay FC, Mark lived out the dream of most footballers across the world by walking the stairs at Wembley to collect a winner’s medal.
But that match proved to be his last, and the following winter he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which affects the muscles and nerves in his body and has left him unable to walk, and his speech slurred.
On Sunday, August 25, his former Sunday pub team Deep will take on a Mark Taylor Select XI at Monkseaton High School, before a number of fundraising events at 42nd Street in Whitley Bay.
Kick-off is at 10.30am before a raffle/auction and other fundraising events at the pub from 1pm.
The money raised will be divided between the MNDA centre at the RVI, which has provided Mark with expert care since his diagnosis, and to help pay for the day to day care Mark needs at home.
Mark said: “After four years since my last match, I am touched by the continued support from my ex-team-mates and the local football community.
“This support, and that of my friends and family, helps me maintain as normal a life as possible, which is hugely important to me.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me and look forward to seeing those that can attend the charity match.”
Andy Hay, Mark’s best friend, has helped organise the day, which will see former non-league footballers Anthony Woodhouse, Andy Bowman and Graeme Fenton don their boots again, alongside Mark’s team-mates David Pounder, Phill Bell, Robbie Livermore and Gary Ormston.
Andy said: “Its been three and a half years since Mark has been diagnosed with this illness and we wanted another opportunity for his friends and family to get together and also to raise money for this charity.
“It’s been an extremely tough time for everyone involved in Mark’s life and we are doing two things he loves the most, football and socialising.
“Many of Mark’s former football colleagues are lacing up their boots for this and I have been inundated with requests for people to help with this event, including from Ben Harding, Martin Graham and Anthony Woodhouse.
“This shows the popularity of the man.
“He is a true hero and inspiration to everyone.”
Anyone interested in donating a prize can contact Andy Hay on 07764 514388.