Express & Star

Allstars raise funds for former Wolves star John Pender

Just over 35 years on from the Sherpa Van Final, former players from Wolves and Burnley locked horns in a charity game to support one of their former team-mates.

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John Pender, who made more than 100 appearances for Wolves and over 200 for Burnley, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease back in 2020, and supporters of both sides have been raising funds to help his family give him a quality of life.

That fund was one of three beneficiaries of the game, played at AFC Gnosall FC, near Stafford, which was organised by Wolves fan and regular fundraiser Carl Falconer.

More than £3,000 was raised to be shared between the appeal for Pender, Pancreatic Cancer UK – in memory of Falconer’s mother – and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, in memory of his brother-in-law.

“I try to do a fundraising event every year, and in the past have been fortunate to have hosted nights with Wolves heroes such as Robbie Keane and John De Wolf,” says Falconer. With it being the 35th anniversary of the Sherpa Van Trophy final, I decided to try to organise something involving Wolves and Burnley, particularly with the chance to support John.

“AFC Gnosall were brilliant hosts, and we had almost 300 spectators turn up, and I would like to thank all the former players and supporters who helped make it such a great afternoon.”

The Wolves Allstars team included Jackie Gallagher – a substitute at Wembley back in 1988 – manager Mel Eves, Tony Dinning, Paul Jones and Colin Taylor, while Burnley Vintage Clarets featured George Oghani, who played in the final, and Roger Eli, who also played for Wolves.

Martial arts Hall of Famer and multiple English and British champion David Hipgrave was also in attendance, raising awareness of his challenge to swim the equivalent distance to the English Channel in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

“We thought that this was an excellent time to try to help a respected former captain of Burnley,” said Eli.

“John is fondly remembered amongst players and supporters for his commitment to the football as a towering centre back with excellent playing ability.

“A leader on and off the field and a dedicated family man, it’s the least we could do to help out.”

And, after Wolves won the Sherpa Van Trophy Final 2-0 back in 1988, it was Burnley’s day to taste victory with a 2-1 win.

Picture: Jim Tomkinson.