• Run Free Official

Run Free play at Roots Hall

RUN Free took to the field at Roots Hall as part of the match to remember former Southend United skipper Chris Barker.

The Run Free group split into two teams to play a five-a-side match ahead of the main game at Southend United.

And Run Free's Sarah Franklin was pleased the group were able to play their part in such a big day.

"The majority of our group are Southend United fans so for them to play at Roots Hall was just incredible," said Sarah.

"It meant a lot for us all to be involved in remembering Chris who meant a lot to all of us."

Chris’ family and a number of his former team-mates were also at Roots Hall for the match in honour of the ex defender who tragically took his own life at the start of 2020.

And Chris’ brother Richie was moved to see so many people in attendance.

“Thank you so much for everyone here today,” said Richie.

“Thank you to all the players here.

“We had some of the young lads he coached and players that he played with.

“I hope he had a positive influence on all of these people.

“Thank you so much to everyone for coming to watch too.

“This was obviously a very special club to him as captain and to lead the team out at Wembley.

“We’ve had a great day and it’s been nice to see how much Chris meant to people here at Southend too.”

The Shrimpers side included the likes of Cameron Belford, Sean Clohessy, Graham Coughlan, Anthony Straker, Barry Corr and Bilel Mohsni who flew in from Paris to play.

The opposition side included Richie, his son Charlie and players Chris lined up with at clubs other than Southend throughout his career.

Former West Ham and Plymouth midfielder Carl Fletcher played for the Chris Barker XI along with five youngsters Chris had coached while working at Forest Green Rovers.

Richie Barker put the Chris Barker XI in front with a well-taken finish before Blues hit back with Corr levelling the scores.

Kyle Asante put Southend 2-1 in front before Corr made it 3-1 with an excellent lob.

However, the Chris Barker XI came back after the break with Vaughn Covil, Danny Jones and Danny Ogunleye all on target to secure a 4-3 victory in a game refereed by former Southend midfielder Ryan Leonard.

But remembering Chris Barker was the main aspect of the afternoon and Corr was pleased to be able to play his part.

“I’m so glad Barks’ family could see how much he meant to us and so many people here,” said Corr.

“I was very glad to be able to be part of the day and thank you to everyone who organised it and also those who watched.

“I really enjoyed the game.”

The Southend side was captained by the popular Mohsni.

And the Frenchman was pleased to be back at Roots Hall.

“It’s a sad reason to be back but I enjoyed seeing everybody again,” said Mohsni.

“Chris Barker was a great captain so it was my honour to come back and play.

“It was great to see all the fans here.”

Ticket sales topped 2,000 for the game which has now raised more than £17,000 for South East and Central Essex Mind.

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