A TRIP down memory lane in aid of a good cause brought hundreds of football fans out in the Bognor sunshine.
It was organised by Witterings-based Rangers fan Stuart Thomson in memory of Dave Clark, a Rangers supporter from Brighton who died in an industrial accident.
Thomson pulled together an impressive array of former Ibrox favourites while Bognor general manager Jack Pearce drew on his contacts to form a South Coast Legends team including a number of ex-Rocks favourites.
It was well-supported, with the majority of the fans wearing Rangers blue and plenty of flags on show and going home happy to see their team having won 5-4.
A minute’s applause for Dave, whose family were present, made for an emotional beginning to the afternoon.
The Rangers side had a vast amount of well-known players such as guest Darren Anderton and David Healy, while the South Coast line-up boasted the likes of Guy Whittingham, Luke Nightingale, Michael Birmingham and Duncan Jupp.
Birmingham was bossing the South Coast midfield early on, while Rangers had a couple of close chances with shots from Anderton and a half-volley by Healy which narrowly went wide.
The southerners took the lead on ten minutes. Whittingham won the ball in the opposition’s box and tricked the keeper, allowing him to cheekily chip the ball into the back of the net.
There was an instant response by Rangers. A quick attack led to a thunderbolt of a strike by skipper Alex Rae, causing keeper Colin Hunwick to tip the ball over.
The South Coast Legends doubled their lead when good play on the wing between Jupp and Richard Hudson allowed Jupp to play a pass across goal which Nightingale easily tapped in.
Pearce’s team were in contro and in the 23rd minute they got a third.
Hudson and Nightingale linked well on the edge of the area and Hudson unleashed an incredible lob from 18 yards which found its way into the top corner.
Rangers were pressing and in the 33rd minute, they pulled one back from a smart finish by Michael Mols, whose shot found its way under Hunwick’s body from close range.
This spurred on Rangers and five minutes before half-time, Rangers scored again. A corner was whipped in and a crowd of players, including the goalkeeper, missed it, but Healy was on hand to smash the ball home.
The second half started slowly with neither side making much impact.
In the 69th minute Rae almost bagged himself a goal as he met a great cross by Anderton at the back post.
South Coast Legends went further ahead in the 72nd minute through Steve Johnson. A perfect cross by Gary Young flew into the box, allowing Johnson to nod home.
Instantly, Mols scored again, his left-foot shot dragging the ball into the bottom corner.
Rangers could have levelled three minutes later, but Healy’s shot was cleared off the line.
But they did so in the 87th minute through Rae’s second, an 18-yard strike which flew in.
In the last minute, Rangers were awarded a penalty and Healy buried the spot kick to clinch the trophy and round off a thoroughly-enjoyable afternoon.
Organiser Stuart Thomson was delighted with the success of the day – and revealed there could be a repeat in the future.
Thomson said: “The sun shone on Bognor and Rangers fans came from all over the UK to see the game.
“Dave’s family presented the match trophy to Rangers legend and captain Alex Rae. Later, at the post-match dinner, Beverley was presented with the match trophy to keep.
“The fans enjoyed watching some of their old heroes and the minute’s applause for Dave at the start was very emotional for all who knew him.
“Dave’s family are very grateful to all fans who turned up and to Bognor FC for their hospitality – also to the Rangers Legends for attending and giving so much time to the family and the fans.
“I will be having discussions with Jack Pearce at the Rocks about a possible return game.”
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