The official opening night of the Alpha Stadium, complete with floodlights and The Alan Mattey Stand went perfectly on Thursday as an Arsenal charity team came to Rowley Lane.
Cheered on by over 300 people, the stand was declared officially open after some moving words from the Mattey family, club President David Kyte and Chairman Andrew Landesberg. Barnet mayor Mark Shooter was also there to help proceedings.
Alan’s All-Star Lions team were visibly moved by the occasion as over 40 of Mattey’s ex-team mates and friends turned out to play, manage or just support.
On the field, an Arsenal Charity XI included league winner Chris Whyte, Jimmy Carter and TV star Ralf Little, and in the first half they were dominant, rattling home six goals without reply, despite Daniel Mattey twice striking the woodwork and having another chance well saved for Lions.
After the break, the home team changed totally, and fielded much of the Class of ’95, many still playing in Lions Veterans team. Thanks to some superb goalkeeping from Adam Solomons, they were only 1-0 down with 20 minutes left, before producing a stunning comeback.
Manager Nathan Kosky threw on some fresh legs, and Joe Leslie opened Lions account for the night after good work from Jack Mattey. But just when a draw looked like a credible outcome, on came Lions Under-12 starlet Ben Barnett for the last 5 minutes and he netted twice in the closing moments for a 3-1 second half win and a night he won’t forget.
It was truly a special evening, not only for the club, but for the Mattey family and all of his team mates, who thoroughly enjoyed their reunion together.
We look forward to the Alan Mattey Stand gracing the Alpha Stadium at Rowley Lane for many years as a poignant reminder of our great friend.