A new football competition kicks off tonight, in honour of a talented grassroots midfielder who died while playing the game.
The namesake Stephen Carey Memorial Cup will be the new curtain-raiser to the North Northumberland League (NNL), after being approved and endorsed by the Northumberland FA.
It will become an annual fixture and is a fitting tribute to the soccer-mad 21-year-old from Alnmouth.
Talented footballer Stephen lost his life in July 2012 after collapsing while representing his village side. Attempts were made to save him, both at the match and in hospital, but nothing could be done.
He had been born with an undetected heart problem.
Towards the end of last year, a namesake fund was set up in his memory by people who knew and loved him, to provide emergency first-aid training and equipment to grass-roots soccer clubs.
The campaign, backed by ex-pro footballers Alan Shearer and Fabrice Muamba, has led to the purchase of two defibrillators, one in Alnwick, the other in Shilbottle.
And now, the fund and the NNL – which Stephen played in – have come together to create the special memorial cup competition.
The match will be played between the winners of the NNL’s Division One and the victors of the Bilclough Cup, which is contested by all teams in the league.
However, the game will only be open to sides in the NNL at the start of the forthcoming season, which this year starts on Saturday, September 7.
It means that, for tonight’s debut cup clash, Red Row Welfare will face Bilclough winners Shilbottle CW.
Welfare finished second in Division One last term, but take the place of champions Newbiggin AFC, who switched to the Northern Alliance.
Proceeds from the game will be split between the fund and the Northumberland FA Benevolent Fund.
Scott McEwan, chairman of The Stephen Carey Fund, said: “We have always wanted to have this cup competition. As far as football is concerned, it is probably the biggest honour we can give to Stephen.”
The match kicks off at 6.30pm at Alnwick Town’s St James’ Park ground. Gates open from 5.30pm. Admission is £2 adults, £1 concessions. A raffle will be held on the gate and drawn/announced at half-time.