Starsailor play football at Anfield for Soccer Six 2003
Soccer Six is an annual music industry celebrity football tournament to benefit charities. In 2003, its ninth year, there were to be three Soccer Six events during May at St James Park in Newcastle, Liverpool's Anfield ground and finally, West Ham's Upton Park ground in London, all to benefit The Prince's Trust, a charity concentrating on improving the confidence of young people to develop new skills, get work or start their own businesses.
The Liverpool tournament featured over 160 music industry, TV and football celebrities divided into 12 mens and 3 womens teams, playing three games simultaneously on the Anfield turf. Starsailor were playing alongside teams from Cooper Temple Clause, Blue, Blazin Squad, Liberty X, Inspiral Carpets and footballers Ian Rush, John Barnes and John Aldridge.
Starsailor's team for Soccer Six comprised the band minus Barry (his reason for not competing being that he'd be sick after five minutes if he had to run around like that, but he was in attendence to lend moral support), Ben's brother Danny in goal, Starsailor's manager Andrew Walsh and their 'fitness instructor' Brendan Hennessey, David Grimes of Starsailor security, Starsailor guitar tech 'Les' and some bloke who seemed unfeasibly skilled with a ball for road crew.
Kick off was midday and the sun was still shining depite a deteriorating forecast. Starsailor's first opponents in Group B were indie youngsters The Music, their team supplemented by three Emmerdale actors and ex pro footballer Terry Gibson. Competition was fierce, both teams obviously taking their task seriously despite Starsailor's considerable pre-match reservations about the impending physical exertion and with injuries sustained earlier in the week in practice.
They proved to be faster across the ground and more skilled than they'd led people to expect and they won the game 6-4. It might have had something to do with the useful looking striker who I'd swear I'd never seen before amongst the Starsailor road crew and bearing an uncanny resemblence to former Liverpool, Newcastle and England player John Barnes.
Several members of Starsailor left the pitch clutching sore body parts, Stel nursing the ribs bruised in an earlier practice and Ben having picked up a strain to his upper right thigh.
The second group B match was against fellow northerners Inspiral Carpets who started the game without shirts until their correct strip was delivered, their team including Brookside actor Paul Byatt. The pace was fast and furious and an incident with Starsailor led to some explanantions of the rules from the referee. Starsailor triumphed however to win 6-3 after some wonderful saves from the drummer's sibling Danny in goal.
Before the final first round matches was a contest to establish the 'fastest man in pop' a straight sprint up the Anfield turf, which saw James Walsh and Ben Byrne competing. I can report that neither of them won a prize, either for fastest man in pop - or - slowest - just!
The final first round match against the Pop Stars Rivals runners up Phixx proved more troublesome to score from, yielding the lowest numbers on the scoresheet of two goals apiece. Perhaps Starsailor were intimmidated by the team sheet declaring one of their number as a cabaret star and another as an underwear model! It was however enough to earn them a place in the quarter finals and the wait to see who they'd face, everyone crossing fingers it wasn't to be So Solid Crew as they were causing a bit of a stir around the ground for their skills.
They were faced with Cooper Temple Clause in the quarters, a team evidently taking it seriously and playing energetically, assisted by ex-international Ian Rush and two actors from the BBC's 'Holby City'. The full time score of 2-2 leading to a penalty shoot out, one of five matches on the day to settle the score in that fashion. The Coops triumphed with 5 penalties to Starsailor's 4, ensuring their place in the semis, where they were beaten by One True Voice. Crowd favourite Blue faced One True Voice in the final and won 3-2.
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