A FOOTBALL tournament held in memory of Brierley Hill footballer Olly Wilkes has raised around £10,000 for charity.

Simon Wilkes who organises the annual event in memory of his son Olly, said he was “absolutely buzzing” after this year’s biggest ever tournament – held at England's official training base.

The event, held on Saturday November 25, saw teams play in the Sir Alf Ramsay Indoor Arena at St George's Park in Burton.

The Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament kicked off at 10am – with brave schoolboy Finley Hill, who has undergone two stem cell transplants to combat a rare immune disorder, invited as guest of honour to blow the whistle to get the event underway.

Dudley News: Football players with Simon Wilkes and Finley Hill, centre, at the 2023 Olly Wilkes Memorial Football TournamentFootball players with Simon Wilkes and Finley Hill, centre, at the 2023 Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament (Image: John Moore)

Finn and his family have been huge champions of the Anthony Nolan charity which the event was held in aid of.

Simon and the Hill family have used every opportunity to urge people to sign up to the stem cell register which helps to match blood cancer and other patients in need to donors who may be able to save their life.

Fifty-nine-year-old Simon, who runs PureSport UK sports coaching company, knows the importance of this - having battled rare blood cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome since 2013.

Together with his wife Lynn and son Ben, he has spent the last 12 months planning the latest football tournament remembering and honouring 22-year-old Olly, a popular local footballer who passed away in 2017.

Dudley News: Olly WilkesOlly Wilkes (Image: Simon Wilkes)

He hoped to raise around £10,000 from the event which, also included a raffle and auction of sports memorabilia afterwards, and it looks as if he has achieved his goal - although the final total raised has yet to be confirmed.

Big-hearted businesses and individuals donated prizes for the event which was followed up with an after party at Stourbridge Football Club.

The auction included England and Manchester United football shirts, but the prize of the night was a signed Jude Bellingham England shirt which was won in the raffle by a lucky memorabilia collector.

The Stourbridge raised England and Real Madrid football star’s dad Mark Bellingham, a prolific local footballer, also put in an appearance at the tournament – as did Stourbridge’s MP Suzanne Webb.

Dudley News: Simon and Lynn Wilkes with Mark BellinghamSimon and Lynn Wilkes with Mark Bellingham (Image: John Moore)

The event also included a one-minute silence in tribute to Simon’s uncle Brian Allport – a former local footballer who passed away, aged 88, on Thursday evening just hours before the tournament – which was the biggest he’s ever organised.

As with most of Simon’s fundraising events there was also a stem cell drive to get people signed up to the Anthony Nolan register and to raise awareness of the charity which works to save the lives of people with blood disorders.

Dudley News: The Anthony Nolan stall at the eventThe Anthony Nolan stall at the event (Image: John Moore)

Funds raised will go the charity.

Simon said he had been left overwhelmed at the success of the event and the best thing was “seeing everybody smiling and it was all for Olly”.

He added: “What a day! I don’t know how we did it, it was a big one to pull off. I feel incredibly proud."

However, organising such a momentous day has taken its toll and he’s promised to take a year off next year as he turns 60.