Tuesday 7th May, 2013. The Lamex Stadium
The ‘Match for Mitch’ was to be an emotional night, with a number of Mitchell’s ex-teammates turning out for a Boro XI vs. a Mitchell Cole XI. The proceeds from the match were to be split between Mitch’s family and the Cardiomyopathy Association, of which Mitch was an ambassador.
For the Boro XI side, managed on the night by Graham Westley contained a number of Boro favourites, including Barry Hayles and then club captain Mark Roberts.
The Mitchell Cole XI side was managed by ex-Boro boss Mark Stimson – and featured a number of Premiership stars from West Ham United, including Mitchell’s brother in law Joe Cole.
Boro XI 4 - 7 Mitchell Cole XI
|Manager: Graham Westley||Manager: Mark Stimson|
|Team Sheet||Team Sheet|
|1 Bayes||1 Julian|
|2 Beard||2 Fuller|
|3 Nutter||3 Miller|
|4 Byrom||4 Nolan|
|5 Vincenti||5 Collins|
|6 Roberts||6 Maher|
|7 Wilson||7 Jarvis|
|8 Maamria||8 Noble|
|9 Midson||9 Carroll|
|10 Beardsley||10 Cole|
|11 Long||11 Martin|
|12 Mills||12 McCormack|
|14 Nurse||14 Lewes|
|15 Hayles||15 Thurgood|
|16 Sills||16 Carthy|
|17 Griffin||17 Griffiths|
|28 Day||18 Hooper|
The night started with a minutes applause for Mitch, before the game got underway. Some nice early moves saw the Boro XI take an early lead after just 5 minutes, courtesy of Chris Beardsley. However, the West Ham contingent playing for the Mitchell XI soon made their presence known – with goals from Mark Noble, Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan to lead 1-3.
As the Boro faithful began a 21st minute applause in respect of the number 21 shirt worn by Mitch, the Boro XI pulled a goal back, Lawrie Wilson heading past Alan Julian from close range.
3 minutes later, James Collins blasted in a superb volley to make the score 2-4, before Matt Jarvis got his second goal of the evening in the 39th minute after rounding Ashley Bayes.
The football on the pitch was eclipsed by some of the sideline antics, with Boro boss Graham Westley enjoying watching his assistant Dino Maamria out on pitch and then later arranging an impromptu ‘drinks break’. Watching Graham running onto the pitch with a trolley full of drinks for the players and getting a red card from the referee will be a moment that will make many smile for years to come. For visiting fans not accustomed to the Boro ‘in jokes’, it must have been a confusing spectacle!
The game continued and after some good humoured banter from the East Terrace, Andy Carroll made the score 2-6, finishing calmly after an initial effort from Collins had been parried by the keeper. There were some great chants of “Sign him up”, and calls for Chairman Phil Wallace to get his chequebook out!
With the referee’s assistant signalling for 16 minutes added time, the first half ended, and the teams were rotated for the second half.
The second half saw goals for the Boro XI, courtesy of Barry Hayles (despite being flagged offside and a swift reversal by the referee) and Boro favourite Charlie Griffin. The Mitchell XI added to their tally through ex-Boro man Tony Battersby.
What the second half lacked in goalmouth action, it made up for with more comedy gold, as the Boro XI dugout took it in turns to invade the East Terrace.. First to make the trip around the pitch was Ashley Bayes, who took control of the drum and joined the Barmy Army. Next to go was Dino Maamria, who began the jog around the North Terrace to join the crowd. Not wanting to miss out on the action, Graham Westley went ‘route one’, running across the pitch as the game continued, jumping the fence – which was as much as a surprise to him as it was to the steward, who turned his head to see what was happening and found with Graham!
The Boro trio then joined a chorus to cajole ex-Boro boss Mark Stimson to leave the visitors’ dugout and “join us over here”, convincing Stimmo to run across the pitch, ending in an impromptu bounce-bounce-bounce followed by mutual applause with the fans.
As the final minutes of the game played out, Ashley Bayes found his way back to the Main Stand and took control of the announcers microphone – leading the fans in a rendition of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ – a song which had previously been adapted for Mitchell Cole by the Boro fans. The sing-along was made even more amusing as Ashley didn’t know the words to the song, so ended up humming in between the chorus lines.
The referee’s assistant held up his boards to signify 21 minutes of added time, Mitchell Cole’s old Boro squad number, as the crowd applauded Mitch – as the whistle blew for full time.
It was a great night, in memory or a great Boro player. The fans and the players that turned out for that evening are a testimony to Mitch.
A number of ex Boro players attended the Lamex that evening, but were unable to play for a variety of reasons. We saw Scott Laird, John Mousinho, Steve Morison, David Bridges, Michael Bostwick and Ronnie Henry. There may have been more! Apologies were also received from a number of other players including Steve Guppy, Daryl McMahon, George Boyd and Mark Smith – who had provisionally agreed to play but then had to pull out due to injury, club committments, etc and were unable to attend. Tony Battersby showed up on the night and wanted to play – even scoring for the Cole XI.