Preston North End, Bamber Bridge and local football show their support for George Melling

Charity was the winner as football came together to support the health battle of former Bamber Bridge defender George Melling.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 1:09 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 1:10 pm

Brig’s Vets team took on a Preston North End Legends XI at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Melling suffers from Motor Neurone Disease and the game helped raise funds for research into the condition.

He has played for a number of clubs at non-league and amateur level in Lancashire and was diagnosed with MND in January at the age of 36.

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Around £7,000 was taken on the day through donations at the turnstiles and fans entering the raffle, Melling a special guest at the game after getting married last week.

He presented North End midfielder Paul Gallagher with the George Melling Shield after the final whistle, PNE’s Legends having won an entertaining game 5-3.

The game was watched by a crowd of around 1,200, a superb turnout.

North End wheeled out some big guns from seasons gone by, Jon Macken, Chris Humphrey, John Welsh, Ross Wallace, David Buchanan, Stephen Elliott, Ian Bryson, Chris Holland, Barry Nicholson, David Lucas, David Eyres, Graeme Atkinson, Steve Wilkes, Warren Beattie and Gallagher in the squad.

John Welsh of the PNE Legends XI tackles Bamber Bridge Vets' Mitch Newsome Photo: Steve Taylor Photography

For some of the North End players, it looked like they had never been away – let alone them pulling the boots back on after time on the sidelines.

Welsh ran the game from a position in the back three, slightly different from his midfield stopper role.

When Brig got into some good positions early on, it was Welsh there covering back and getting in vital blocks.

Next to him, PNE’s 1995/96 title-winning skipper Bryson showed some good touches.

Former PNE skipper Ian Bryson in action against Bamber Brig Vets Photo: Steve Taylor Photography

PNE went in front in the 39th minute through Wallace, a player always looking for the ball.

Elliott scored twice from two Humphrey assists early in the second half to extend the lead, Humphrey – now manager of Kendal Town – displaying plenty of pace on the wing.

Kenny Mayers reduced the arrears with a fine header in the roof of the net.

Gallagher made it 4-1 with a trademark free-kick, before Simon Carey scored at the other end for Brig’s Vets.

Paul Gallagher has a shot playing for PNE Legends against Bamber Bridge Vets Photo: Steven Taylor Photography

Wallace struck his second and PNE’s fifth goal, with John Bolton pulling it back to 5-3 late on, the crowd thoroughly entertained.

The multi-coloured shirts worn by Brig were to represent the clubs Melling played for locally - all were presented by a stripe and their badge on.

PNE sported this season's first-team kit.

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