Jose Mourinho played pantomime villain role with aplomb at the #Game4Grenfell which took place at QPR’s Loftus Road Stadium. The Manchester United manager took to the field as a goalkeeper alongside a plethora of other celebrities, to raise money in aid of the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Despite a tragic and emotional backdrop, the atmosphere was far from sombre. As the team sheets were read out, popstar Olly Murs received the loudest cheers from the mainly youthful crowd. Following an immaculately respected minute’s silence for the victims of the fire, the teams, captained by QPR legend Les Ferdinand and record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer, kicked off in front of an 18,000 capacity crowd.
Just two minutes in, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian Mo Farah pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area, before slamming it into the roof of the net to put Team Ferdinand ahead. It was inspiring to see survivors of the tragedy playing alongside ex-footballers, less than a mile from the scene of the inferno that claimed over 80 lives on June 14.
Homeland star Damian Lewis showed neat footwork down the left flank, while ex-Liverpool and Spurs star Jamie Redknapp showed that his passing and vision has not succumbed to age yet. But it was former QPR maestro Trevor Sinclair who was the most influential player on the park, and it was he who grabbed the equaliser midway through the first half.
Football then briefly took a back seat when four firefighters, who bravely battled the Grenfell blaze, were substituted on to a rapturous reception. The halftime show was up next, featuring local girl turned popstar Rita Ora, Emeli Sande and Marcus Mumford. Their poignant and heartfelt performance of Bill Withers’ Lean on Me’ prompted tears to be shed around the ground.
Second half highlights included a sumptuous free-kick that went in off the post from Sinclair to give Team Shearer the lead. Jarvis Cocker of ‘Pulp’ fame running around in his trademark shades like Bambi on Ice and Mourinho’s comedy cameo in goal. After Kasabian’s Chris Edwards tapped Stan Collymore’s pass into an empty net, the game finished 2-2 and thus was to be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
A pitch invasion briefly caused the game to be halted, but once it was cleared, the ensuing shootout saw Grenfell survivors and firefighters help Team Ferdinand on to a 5-3 #GAME4GRENFELL win to wrap up an emotional yet positive day under the blue skies of west London.