Lee Hughes hangs up his boots – and aids NHS
Former Albion striker Lee Hughes is assembling an All Star cast as he prepares to bring the curtain down on a 25-year football career.
Hughes, who scored nearly 100 goals in two spells with the Baggies, turns 44 next month and has decided the time has come to hang up his boots.
But he is planning one final hurrah, with the sole aim of raising money for the NHS.
A team of Albion All Stars will take on Hughes’ own All Star XI at Halesowen Town on August 2.
Darryl Burgess, Andy Johnson, Geoff Horsfield and Peter Odemwingie are among the Baggies heroes who have already signed up to take part, while Gary Megson has agreed to manage the team.
Hughes was part of the Albion team which won promotion to the Premier League under Megson in 2004.
Jimmy Bullard, Lee Sharpe and the boxer Frankie Gavin are, meanwhile, among the names pencilled in for Hughes’ own XI.
Hughes said: “The response so far has been fantastic. I’ve had people ringing up asking to take part. It was always my intention to call it a day at the end of this season. I’ve been fortunate enough to play for a long time but it has taken its toll on my body.
“Coupled with that I have a young son who is just starting out and I want to go and watch him play.
“I’d actually just signed for Nuneaton before the season was stopped due to the coronavirus, so my final match would have been for them. But when it became clear we were not going to be able to play on, I had the idea of organising a one-off match.
“All the proceeds raised will go to the NHS. There are people out there doing a fantastic job at the minute and we need to give them all the support we can.”
Halesowen have allowed Hughes the use of the Grove free of charge. Hughes played for the Yeltz from March 2018 to August last year, briefly taking caretaker charge of the first-team toward the end of the 2018-19 season.
Since making his debut for Kidderminster in 1995, he has scored more than 350 goals and played in the top nine levels of the English game, with the tail end of his career taking in stops at a number of non-league clubs.
Hughes said: “It just made sense for me to have this match at Halesowen.
“It is in the middle of everything and easy for people to get to. I actually live in the town now and have a number of friends at the club. When I spoke to them about the match, they were happy to let me have the ground free of charge.
“Obviously the match going ahead depends on the situation at the time but hopefully it can and we raise as much money as possible.”
Hughes, who grew up in Oldbury and is a lifelong Albion, first joined the Baggies from Kidderminster in 1997. After joining Coventry in 2001, he returned to The Hawthorns a year later but was sacked in August 2004, after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
After serving half of a six-year prison sentence, Hughes restarted his career at Oldham and played for Notts County and Port Vale before moving into non-league.