In an amazing family day out, The Rivals took victory over the home side by 5-4, in a nerve-racking sudden death penalty shoot out after an action-packed game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Paddy McGuinness said: “We’re over the moon. I missed my penalty but it doesn’t matter, I’m just delighted to have won at Old Trafford.”
Tinchy Stryder kicked off proceedings at the pre-match concert, followed by The Hoosiers and a dazzling performance from The Saturdays. Much to the delight of the crowd, family favourite Tony Christie also took to the centre stage, getting the crowd to join him in a mass sing-a-log of his Comic Relief record breaking hit ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo?’
Frankie from The Saturdays said: “Comic Relief reaches so many people and it’s great being able to do what we do and help people at the same time. Today is such a family event, parents can bring their kids and it brings everyone together.”
One player, who couldn’t wait to get on the pitch, made an unexpected early appearance, much to the surprise of The Saturdays. Super-fan Paddy McGuinness stormed the stage and proved that he “Just Couldn’t Get Enough”, by joining in with the band’s opening dance routine.
As the singing subsided the players warmed up. With footballing greats and their celebrity chums going head-to-head, the star-studded show down was always going to be a battle. The Rivals took the lead when actor Ralf Little hit the back of the net at the start of the second half, followed by another by former Aston Villa legend Ugo Ehiogu. Unfortunately Ugo then put the ball in the back of his own net, from a Darren Campbell cross, to put The Rivals in front.
Nine minutes into stoppage time Ralf Little fouled Clayton Blackmore in the box and referee Jeffery Burton awarded a penalty. Midfield ace Quinton Fortune stepped up to score from the spot with the last kick of the game and send the Stretford End into raptures.
Sir Alex Ferguson said: “This is a unique piece of history for any club. If my team don’t win today, heads will roll! I want to applaud players who give their time to charity, they all do so much. It’s an amazing turn out on a Saturday afternoon with football matches going on all over the country.”
Not all the action came from on the pitch. Former Bolton player Dean Holdsworth proved that not only the comedians were there to have a laugh, when he caught local funny man Jason Manford off guard, pulling his shorts down during a live radio interview.
Boyzone front man Ronan Keating was also in high spirits when he was overheard telling rival team mate George Lamb: “I’m so excited - it feels like Christmas morning.”
Over 20 celebrities and footballing greats took part in today’s event with one Manchester United ’99 treble winning hero especially pleased to have been invited. The former United and Netherlands defender Jaap Stam was named ‘Man of the Match’ by Sir Bobby Charlton. Stam said: “It’s fantastic to be back and see some old friends. We’re all here for a great cause and hopefully it’s a day the fans have really enjoyed. Stepping out of the tunnel was a great feeling – I loved my time at United and I’m happy to be back helping support the Manchester United Foundation.”
Sir Bobby Charlton, now a Manchester United director, trod the famous turf again to take part in a half-time penalty shoot out, scoring two of his three spot-kicks against former Chelsea and Wimbledon goalkeeper Dave Beasant.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer summed up the day, by adding: “Yet again, celebs and the public alike pulled out all the stops to help transform the lives of those living incredibly tough lives in Greater Manchester. I thoroughly enjoyed United Relief Live: The Big Red Family Day Out!”