Whittington Hospital NHS staff take to the Tottenham Hotspur pitch
- Credit: Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur welcomed NHS staff from the Whittington and North Middlesex University hospitals for a thrilling match on Monday.
The club and sponsor AIA donated the use of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as well as personalised Spurs shirts as a "thank you" to the local NHS heroes for their work during the pandemic.
The NHS staff put on a spectacle with, North Middlesex holding off a late Whittington comeback to win 4-3.
The teams were managed by club legends Gary Mabbutt and Ossie Ardiles and received warm-up drills from members of Tottenham’s global coaching team, who work across a player development programme delivered in partnership with AIA in Asia.
Sonny Driver, captain of the North Middlesex team, said: “It was absolutely amazing, it is a dream come true. It has been a tough year with the pandemic, but this is absolutely unbelievable.
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“Tottenham have been amazing this last year. They opened up the stadium for the women’s health services so pregnant patients had somewhere to go, they have provided us with vouchers, and this is just another brilliant thing that Tottenham have done for us.”
He added: “It is great to see other people from other hospitals, other NHS workers. We all know how tough it has been, so it is good to see each other and have fun.”
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James Landi, captain of the Whittington, said: “It has been a really difficult month in every sector of the NHS, and we are all really grateful for the opportunity to come out here, let off some steam and get to meet some other people around the NHS world.
“To know that you have got these big institutions supporting their local services goes a long way, not just for the people working them but for the service users as well.”
Despite the niceties, it was a game both teams were desperate to win, with teammates cheering from the sidelines and strong tackles going in.
“It was all good fun and games. No matter what walk of life you want to create rivalries here, and it does not seem any more fitting than when you are playing a football match against each other” said Landi.
Neil Suttie opened the scoring, turning in a cross from the left eight minutes in to put North Middlesex ahead – and opening the floodgates for a chaotic game.
Whittington replied six minutes later as Callum French was slipped through for a one-on-one, coolly slotting the ball into the net.
Wittington were given the chance to take the lead 17 minutes in but Kevin Graham heroically saved a penalty to keep his side in the game. North Middlesex made that save count with Tarum Dawkins and Andrew Nunn both scoring to help North Middlesex take a 3-1 lead into half time.
Rakim Thakore extended the lead just after the restart, curling a shot from 25 yards beyond the keeper to make it 4-1 to North Middlesex.
Wittington did not go down without a fight as Eamon Keane tucked away a shot from a tight angle to make it 4-2. Tyrese Reynolds added another from the penalty spot after being taken down in the box, making it 4-3 and setting up a tight ending.
Cheers from the players filled the stadium at the final whistle with all involved enjoying a fantastic game.
Whittington: Anwar Elharabi, Eamon Keane, Nicola Diamond, David Adeniji, James Whatley, Lizzie Randall, Nicki Hubbard, Alexandre Brito, James Landi, Firas Abou-Auda, Yosaf Bhatti, Madekeine Wickers, Callum French, Muhammad Ismail, Samuel Collard, Kevin Curnow, Dionis Emini, Michael Kimber, Vitaly Fedak, Beth Hargreaves, Nadia Hough, Nicola Marks, Carmel Lucid, Tyrese Reynolds, Phil Montgomery.
North Middlesex: Rhiannon Johnston Fagan, Neil Suttie, Andrew Nunn, Kyri Kokkinos, Sean Leahy, Tarum Dawkins, Mick Ozkor, Henry Gallagher, Ola Ogundemi, Kevin Graham, Tony Ndlovu, Yasin Fokeerbaccus, Hannah Conley, Montel Humphrey, James Wood, Cem Ertol, Abid Khan, Sonny Driver, Serhan Ertol, Rakim Thakore, Alberton Furlani, Herald Peter.