The first Hartlepool United-Darlington derby of the new football season takes place on August 25 - but a taster for the big match takes place in the name of charity on Sunday.

Supporters of each side have teamed-up up to stage a game in aid of Jon Robert Collingwood who was due to sign for Hartlepool United as a youth team goalkeeper until he was involved in a car crash in June last year.

He lost the use of his legs in the crash, and has been in a wheelchair ever since although he returned to his parents' home in Blackhall last month after a 12-month stay in hospital.

Since then, over £30,000 has been raised for Jon Robert through various events so he could return home to their adapted bungalow.

Among the fund raising events have been a raffle of football memorabilia and a sponsored walk by Pool fans to their game at York in March.

Now comes a game which players have been looking forward to since the idea was first mooted at the beginning of the year and has since been postponed at the insistence of the FA.

And last night Jon Robert announced he is planning to attend the game to say a big thank-you to everyone who has been involved in the appeal.

Mark Duell, who is taking control of the Pool side, said: "It's brilliant that he is able to come along. I'm sure it will give everyone a boost and help ensure we all have a cracking day.''

Manager of the Darlington team, Daniel King, explained: "It was early January when the idea was hatched and the game was originally supposed to be played in June because we thought Hartlepool were going to get to the play-off final. But the FA said we couldn't play in June because it was out of season."

The teams were formed by regular visitors to the club's fan-maintained web-sites: and, and players have arranged shirt sponsorship. The Darlington team are to pay £10 each to play while there will be an admission price of £1.

Mark Duell, is taking charge of the Pool game and is looking forward to the day: "It depends on how many people turn up on the day but we're hoping for quite a lot. At the last count, I worked out we'll make at least £400.''

Given the rivalry between the two sets of supporters, there is the danger of the odd heated exchange and King admitted: "I think there might be of that, there's been some people on the internet who have a bit of rivalry but I'm sure the game will be played in the best of spirits.''

Duell added: "I think it might get a bit competitive. We've got a Hartlepool referee who gives people a chance, but if they go too far he'll get his cards out - even in a friendly game."

And there is more friendly rivalry at The Northern Echo, with the paper represented on both sides. Newly-appointed Darlington correspondant Craig Stoddart is turning out for Darlington (Uncovered FC), while Sports Editor Nick Loughlin is part of the Hartlepool (ITN FC) squad.

The games takes place at the King George V playing fields near the Touchdown Hotel in Hartlepool at 2pm.