AN EX-Premier League footballer from Cookley will celebrate his 20-year playing career with a special match.
Jody Craddock's testimonial game will take place at Wolverhampton Wanderers' Molineux stadium on bank holiday Monday, kicking off at 2pm - with Mr Craddock bringing together many former team-mates from Wolves and Sunderland as well as welcoming his former manager Mick McCarthy back to the dugout.
The 38-year-old will also give youngsters from his under-11, 10, nine and eight Cookley football teams a chance to play on the pitch at the 30,000 capacity ground before the testimonial match - for which the young players will get to be ball boys and mascots.
Money will be raised at the game for Birmingham Children's Hospital's £4 million children's cancer centre appeal. Mr Craddock's four-year-old son Toby is currently two years into his three-year course of treatment for leukaemia.
Speaking to The Shuttle, Mr Craddock said the game was an opportunity for him to say thank you to the fans of the club he played for from 2003 to 2013, making 215 appearances and winning promotion to the Premier League in 2008/09. He had played for Sunderland for six years before that, winning promotion to the Premier League in 1998/99.
He said: "It was nice to be offered the testimonial and it a way of me saying thank you and getting some of the players I played with over the years back to Molineux. It was hard for me to retire but this is me celebrating what I am so proud of and what I have achieved.
"A portion of the money will go to Birmingham Children's Hospital, so even if you do not like football you should come and support this hospital."
Mr Craddock's son was diagnosed with leukaemia aged two and is undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital.
Mr Craddock said: "It is a chance for me to give something back to the hospital - they have done so much for us I had to incorporate them into this event. I won't be able to raise £4 million but every little helps and if I can help them get to their target that is great."
Since retirement Mr Craddock has become a full-time artist and coaches four Cookley football teams.
"I have been concentrating on my art career and supporting that," he added. "That keeps me going most days. It is something I love doing and to be able to come out of football and into something else I love doing is fantastic."
Monday's testimonial game will see ex-bosses Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor manage the Wolves side, while Bobby Saxton and Peter Reid will be in charge of the visitors.