A charity match between Burnley Legends and Swansea Legends has raised almost £10,000 for the Len Johnrose Trust in honour of former Clarets midfielder Lenny Johnrose, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease last year.
Organised by Lenny's former teammates and the Burnley FC Former Players Association, the charity match took place at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, home of Bamber Bridge FC, and saw around 1,000 spectators turn up to show their support for the Preston-born father-of-three who made 91 appearances for Burnley across three spells with the club.
Having gone public with his battle with MND earlier this year, Lenny (48) has since received an outpouring of support from fellow players and fans alike, with the charity match welcoming a raft of former Turf Moor stalwarts back into the claret and blue for a great cause.
"I don't use the word loosely, but I have been overwhelmed," said Lenny in the programme notes for the match. "I'm feeling pretty positive [which is] helped by the depth of support I've had and that really makes a difference.
"Since my illness I've had lads from Burnley who I would never have expected to contact me who have been in touch and that's been a really good show of support," he added. "They were really good, down-to-earth lads and it was great to be part of it."
With Brian Jensen, Dean West, Charlie West, Graham Alexander, Micky Mellon, Steve Davis, Ian Cox, Mitchell Thomas, Paul Weller, Chris Brass, John Mullin, Andy Payton, Gareth Taylor, Alan Moore, Tony Grant, Paul Cook, Andy Cooke, Ronnie Jepson, Glen Little, Robbie Blake, and Francis Johnrose all turning out, the Clarets Legends squad boasted over 2,000 appearances for Burnley and was managed by the legendary former Clarets duo of Stan Ternent and Sam Ellis.
Similarly, a raft of Swansea stalwarts including Jon Ford, Steve Jones, Leon Britton, Michael Howard, Kristian O'Leary, Alan Tate, Lee Trundle, Brad Maylett, Jonathan Coates, Andy Robinson, Andy Mumford, and Tom Butler turned out for the Swansea Legends, who won the match 10-7.
"We're overwhelmed at the amount of support shown to Lenny from all his teammates who were able to travel from afar - Robbie Blake came from Bognor Regis and picked Glen Little up on the way!" said Veronica Simpson, Burnley FC Former Players Association Secretary. "The support from the fans was absolutely overwhelming; everything down to the nth degree went to plan.
"As we were driving up to Preston, the rain was getting worse and worse but the sun came out, and it was a great turn-out," Veronica added. "The facilities at Bamber Bridge are first class. What lovely people run Bamber Bridge - they're absolutely amazing."
Having ended his playing career in 2004, Lenny - who recently renewed his vows to his wife Nadine - is now a teacher at Lowerhouse Junior School and was treated to a special surprise as he walked onto the pitch ahead of the game.
"Fourteen pupils and staff from Lowerhouse gave Lenny a guard of honour as he entered the pitch," said Veronica. "It got the expression on Lenny's face that we wanted to get; he was gobsmacked. Massive thanks to Lesley Isherwood at Lowerhouse.
"The second half turned into a bit of a fun game with the referee, Mark Halsey, awarding penalties here, there, and everywhere!" Ceronica said of the game. "The funniest one I saw was when Paul Cook was about to take a penalty and Micky Mellor comes out of nowhere and scores! The whole thing shows the camaraderie of that group: it was emotional."
A grand total of £9,400 was raised at the charity match, with an additional fundraising auction set to take place in the new year after an "overwhelming" amount of donations were generously made ahead of the charity match.
"The fundraising total is absolutely amazing," Veronica said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd raise that much money. Big thanks to the match sponsors Burnley Supporters Club, the match ball sponsors Kiko Rodriguez [Jay Rodriguez's father] of DRN Sports and Mick Preston of MCK Contract Service’s Ltd, and the programme sponsor Blackston Communications."