Sheffield University Bankers and ‘enemies’ Sheffield Hallam will play together this weekend in friendly fixtures to support the local charity Homeless and Rootless at Christmas (HARC).
Annually the sides meet in the Steel City Challenge, where they play in fancy dress. But this will be the first year that all proceeds will go towards a good cause.
Bankers club Captain Steve Brook, 57, selected HARC to be the benefactor charity after learning about the vital work the organisation do for vulnerable men and women over the Christmas period.
“The whole club really want to help HARC as they provide crucial help to many who are desperate at Christmas and they really do lifesaving work,” explained the retired Bankers player.
“Around this time of year many take things for granted and it’s a period of great indulgence meaning that people really struggling can be forgotten.
“But we are going to make sure that we raise as enough money as possible so we can make a difference to people’s lives who really need it.”
The charity, which was founded in 1989, provides a safe and warm day shelter run from the Sheffield Cathedral to the homeless and rootless, catering for three hot meals a day between Christmas day until January 3 and relies on the help of volunteers.
Russell Cavanagh, a member of the board of trustees for HARC, said: “We really appreciate what the two clubs are doing.
“The money raised will really help those that use our services at Christmas.
“Many charities do not operate over the festive period that is why the work we do is so vital. It is a special time of year but it can be the hardest and loneliest for many who aren’t as fortunate.
“We want the public to remember that there are human beings out there suffering at Christmas and whatever help people can offer we are very grateful of.”
The matches were arranged by Bankers fixtures secretary Graham Seaton, who also managed to arrange for Sport Sheffield to waver the pitch fees. Each player taking part will donate £5, and a bucket collection on the day will top up the total.
Despite the fixture being for a good cause and played in festive spirit, both sides believe the rivalry of the two clubs will still be evident on the pitch.
“I’m delighted that we have been asked by Bankers to take part and do our bit for such a good cause,” said Mark Beavis, the Sheffield Hallam club captain.
“It’s great for the two clubs to join forces and the game will be played in good spirit but no-one likes to lose do they and I’m sure they’ll be some battles on the pitch even if they are in fancy dress.”
Bob Hindle, Bankers Chairman added: “It is a very appropriate charity to raise money for and we are aiming to raise a healthy three figure sum.
“The emphasis on the day of course will not be about winning - but the rivalry between players will always exist so I still expect a fiery encounter.”
The money raised will help individuals like Danielle, who found herself homeless and vulnerable at Christmas last year.
“It was amazing to be part of a ‘normal’ Christmas Dinner of sorts – I was able to have my own family experience,” she said.
“People forget it can be very cold and horrible over Christmas but it was nice to know that there are people out there thinking of the homeless. It really does pick you up over the holidays.”
Hindle added: “I’m delighted our club will be helping such an important organisation and I help others will help whether that be with a small donation or volunteering.
“As a club we want to play our part in this community and each year we will now look to help a local charity but this year HARC really does need our help.”
The charity matches will take place at the Goodwin centre from 12.00pm, with raffle prizes being drawn at Bankers club house from 16.00 onwards.
Currently HARC urgently need any volunteers to help in the kitchen or helping during the Christmas period and anyone who could provide entertainment.
To get involved, find out more details about the charity, or donate visit www.harc-sheffield.org.uk.