Crystal Palace and Brighton fans put rivalry aside in fundraising match dedicated to memory of 9/11 victim
Every year, fans of Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion put their fierce rivalry to one side and take part in a charity football match to raise money for the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund.
REMF is a charity that was founded in memory of Robert Eaton, a lifelong Brighton fan who lost his life in the September 11 terror attacks.
It raises money to fund youth football projects both locally and throughout the world.
This year’s match took place on Friday March 5 at Lewes FC’s Dripping Pan stadium and Brighton regained the trophy with a 2-1 victory.
Mike Langridge, who has been going to REMF matches since 2006, became chairman of the charity three years ago, following in the footsteps of his father who held the position previously.
“It was lovely to get the trophy back again,” he joked.
“They had their moment of glory when they beat us on our own turf at the AMEX last year so it was only right to take it back off them.
“But we are ever so grateful to the Palace boys that come down every year.
“They make the journey down and put time and effort in and without them we wouldn’t have our flagship football match.
“People I meet through work know that I’m a Brighton fan and when they find out we hold a game with Palace they’re genuinely amazed.
“In fact some of my customers came to watch the match this year and they were overwhelmed.
“It’s incredible to have Palace fans and Brighton fans stood with a beer on the terrace and have a bit of banter and at the end of the day shake each other’s hands and walk away.”
Although the match is predominantly for supporters to play in, a number of ex-pros from both teams have taken part over the years, including Peter Ward, Ricky Marlowe, Andy Johnson and Shaun Derry.
This year, Sasa Curcic and Rob Quinn lined up for Palace but even their experience couldn’t prevent Brighton from reclaiming the title.
Jake Newton’s thunderous penalty reduced the arrears but Brighton held on after a brilliant Lawrence Edwards free kick and a close range finish from Declan Brewster had given them a half-time lead.
The match wouldn’t be possible without the help of Alan Wares, who has spent the last eight years playing a major role in organising it.
He said: “Whether it’s football, tiddlywinks or connect four, if there’s a rivalry between Brighton and Palace fans to be had, it will be there.
“It’s played in a tough, but competitive spirit. The lads work hard for it. Everything is left on the pitch and it’s always a good spirit afterwards but during the match both sides fight tooth and nail for the win.”
REMF also hosts an annual golf day, a quiz night and regular 5-a-side tournaments to fund junior football and this year’s match at Lewes raised more than £8,000.
Ben Long was player manager for Palace for the third consecutive match, having been captain since 2013, and he is already thinking about revenge.
He said: “After a nightmare start we dominated the rest of the game and had some good chances, hitting the post, but didn’t manage to equalise.
“It was a great performance from my lads and we’re looking forward to regaining the trophy next year.”
For more information about the charity visit www.remf.org.uk.
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