Day the stars came out to play

With there having been few events being held over this summer, let's take a trip back in time to enjoy some of the atmosphere of the 1988 Bridgnorth Festival.

The centrepiece was an EastEnders charity football match, organised by Bridgnorth College on behalf of Dr Barnardo's and local charities.

And as we just happen to have the official souvenir programme in our files, we can shine the spotlight on the Bridgnorth XI which was selected to face the television stars, playing as Walford Boys' Club.

The aim of the festival on Sunday May 29 and Monday May 30 was to provide two days of fun and entertainment, while raising money for good causes.

It included all the traditional elements of a carnival, with a parade with floats, a fancy dress, marching bands, a festival queen – 18-year-old Claire Fullwood, an A-level art student at Bridgnorth Endowed School – and a funfair.

The charity football match arose after Barnardo's asked the students' union of Bridgnorth and South Shropshire College of Further Education to come up with a fundraising idea.

Over 90 celebrities were approached until "Lofty," Tom Watt of EastEnders, finally said yes.

The Bridgnorth XI, as described in the programme, was: 1 Bob Platt, "a balding father of two" who was a producer with BBC Radio Shropshire; 2 Ian Davies – "yesterday he was just a humble Bridgnorth College lecturer from a deprived Welsh background, but now fame has come his way"; 3 Glyn Jones, the Beacon Radio Bear; 4 Rob MCaffrey, the Bridgnorth news producer for Radio Shropshire; 5 Duncan Hamling, "a well known local postman."

6 Mike Naylor, another from Shropshire radio; 7 Will Tudor, who would be fronting the Beacon Roadshow at the festival; 8 Michael Wardman, a midfielder, and deputy manager of the Parlors Hall Hotel; 9 Virgilo "faster than the speed of light" Sabetta, a pupil at Oldbury Wells School and Bridgnorth's budding Steve Bull.

10 Steve Valentine, who was "dangerously goal hungry – he couldn't score one to save his life"; 11 Adam Dent, a former Bridgnorth Journal reporter who had become a sports writer at the Shropshire Star; 12 Tony Rickards, managing director of the Parlors Hall Hotel; and 13 Adrian Lamb, who sold airtime to Beacon's advertisers and "is to football what Cyril Smith is to hang gliding."

More than 10,000 people packed the town's Severn Park to watch the match on the Sunday, making it one of the biggest festival crowds on record, and saw Wicksy, Darren, Rod and company beat their Bridgnorth opponents 6-1. One of the local charities to benefit was the Ellie Hamling appeal, and it was Ellie's dad Duncan who slotted the only goal scored by the Bridgnorth XI.

Tom Watt missed the game because he was filming.

A party of 55 children from Dr Barnardo's Homes from all over the West Midlands watched the game and afterwards got the chance to meet the players.

Incidentally the programme in our archive may have come from Adam Dent, who was one of our journalists, as there's a note on the front of it which says: "Adam, See you Thursday, 7.30, Severn Park, regards Jacky." That might have been a final team practice before Sunday's game.

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