Two teams of dads from Petts Wood and the surrounding areas will be playing football against each other to raise money for a foundation co-directed by Tom Parker’s widow, Kelsey.

Both teams, who usually play five-a-side casually on Wednesday evenings decided to organise a full-sized game and a giant raffle to raise money for Ahead of The Game Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for Brain Tumour Research.

The group were keen to play for a notable cause which mattered to the community, and with Tom Parker, his wife Kelsey and their two young children Aurelia and Bodhi being local to Petts Wood, they said it “just made sense”.

The Wanted singer died at a hospice near the couple’s home on March 30 at the age of 33 after being diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.

Captain of one of the teams, Nick Davidson, said: “I think speaking to Kelsey, who is a co-director and trustee of Ahead of The Game Foundation was a really good idea, because Tom’s death struck a chord with us, as many of us have also got young children.

“You realise something awful like that can happen to any one of us really.

“I was on their website and saw that the research receives one per cent of funding compared to other cancers - so any sort of funding and awareness is pretty beneficial to them.”

Lydon Smith, the other team’s captain, said: “Kelsey has been behind it from day one and thinks it is a great way of raising more awareness through football, which is something that Tom loved to do.”

News Shopper: Tom Parker and his wife Kelsey in 2016 - Kelsey has called for more funding into brain tumour research in the UKTom Parker and his wife Kelsey in 2016 - Kelsey has called for more funding into brain tumour research in the UK (Image: PA)

The groups have never played against each other and are eager to see how the game will play out.

Nick explained that he first came up with the idea to start up an over-35s dads’ team after feeling desperate to play football, even though he had not played in 20 years.

Nick said: “We do it for fitness, but we tend to then go in the pub after the game - so maybe the fitness levels aren't quite as good as they should be.”

Dad Ked Mather joined Nick’s team and shared a Facebook post asking for players which was then bombarded with requests to join the team.

They are now a group of 16 in total, but they explained that many unfortunately missed out and were disappointed.

Ked believes that there must be a huge demand for dads in the area wanting to join casual football teams, and encourages people to start their own just as they have.

He added: “It's just a beautiful mechanism to get to know other dads in the area and share experiences about being a dad between yourselves and all that cheesy stuff.”

News Shopper: Nick's team at the pubNick's team at the pub (Image: Nick)

Nick said: “Doing this was really out of my comfort zone.

"The concept of going to meet up with a load of strangers and have a kick around is quite intimidating, but it worked out really well and we now have mates for life.

“There are now families that are close friends, a lot of the kids are at the same schools, and we bump into each other all the time out and about in the local area.

“It's brought us all closer together and reminded us of when we were a bit younger and a bit fitter.”

Lydon said his team got started when one one of the dads who missed out on joining Nick's team asked others in the same position if they fancied setting their own one up. 

“Just by chance or coincidence, both the teams ended up playing on Wednesday evenings, five aside, and then we all kept bumping into each other at the pub afterwards," added Lydon. 

“I think we're all looking at each other murmuring ‘is that the other team?’.

News Shopper: Lydon's team at the pubLydon's team at the pub (Image: Lydon)

“We ended up talking properly probably about six months ago. I think it was just after a few beers we decided to do a full 11-aside game and the raffle for a worthy cause."

They have raised over £2,000 now from raffle tickets and a GoFundMe, as well as other contributions. 

There is a mix of great prizes in the raffle. such as a £150 gift voucher for White Brasserie pubs, a session for four people at Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, £150 to spend at John Lewis, a Crystal Palace 2022/23 home shirt signed by the team, two tickets to Matilda The Musical, two tickets to an Arsenal game at box level and so much more.

The raffle closes at 6pm on Sunday, November 27, and you can enter and view the full prize list here or alternatively donate via Kelsey’s GoFundMe page.

The match is taking place at 1.30pm at Charlton Athletic Community Trust ground in New Eltham, with those in attendance all donating at least £5.

Both teams would like to give a big thanks to Charlton Athletic Community Trust for offering the pitch and referees and linesmen for the match itself.

Kelsey, who will also be attending the game, said on BBC Breakfast in October that many families are “clutching at straws” as they travel abroad for alternative treatments.

She said: “When we were in treatment I used to speak to people all the time – different families, children who have got brain tumours, other husbands, other wives – and it is just the same thing. Everyone has to go abroad.

“When you get diagnosed, because the standard of care hasn’t been changed in 30 years, you are literally clutching at straws and thinking, ‘What else can I actually do?’

“You have to go abroad. You have to seek other options because the standard of care is just radio and chemo and that is it.

“There needs to be more done in this country. How can it be the biggest killer and get one per cent of funding? I just don’t understand it.”

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