French World Cup winner and former Arsenal forward Robert Pirès spearheaded a Star Sixes team against Hashtag United FC, the YouTube football club created by YouTuber Spencer Owen, aka Spencer FC.
For Pirès and Star Sixes teammates Gaizka Mendieta, the ex-Valencia, Middlesbrough and Spain midfielder, Liverpool and England icon Emile Heskey and Leeds United and Scotland defender Dominic Matteo, the game was a perfect way to gain some match fitness for when they pull on their national team shirts at the inaugural 12-team Star Sixes competition, which takes place at The O2 in London from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 July. Tickets are available to buy at Ticketmaster or AXS.
Meanwhile, Hashtag United, who play exhibition matches in a ‘fantasy league’ structure with the aim of picking up enough points during their games to win ‘promotion’, came into the game at Bishop’s Stortford’s ProKit Stadium following a four-match tour of the USA. They were looking for a victory that would lift them up to ‘Division One’.
Hashtag enjoyed the best of the first period, Dan Brown, Ryan Adams and Seb Carmichael-Brown all having chances but were thwarted by some fine goalkeeping from Thurrock FC no1 Bobby Mason in the Star Sixes sticks.
Meanwhile, Heskey could have given his side the lead, clipping an effort goalward, but the big Hashtag stopper Jamie Jackson denied the UEFA Cup winner.
After the break, Mendieta – the two-time Champions League finalist – came close to opening the score with a low free-kick, while striker Jonathan Rush sent one effort narrowly wide and another header onto the cross bar with Jackson beaten.
Star Sixes, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports this July, also had presenter David Garrido in their side, while former Northern Ireland international Mark Hughes, new assistant manager at Bishop’s Stortford, lined up in their midfield.
And ultimately, they proved just too strong for the YouTubers, snatching a late win with a 25-yard snap-shot from winger Pedro Bello, who was representing Pitch International, the sports marketing agency behind the Star Sixes concept, along with Football Champions Tour.
“It was competitive and it was tight to the very last minute.” said Mendieta, who won the League Cup with Middlesbrough in 2004. “In the first half and early in the second, Hashtag controlled more of the game, and as a team you could see they were more organised than us.
“But we stuck together, stayed in the game and tried to make the most of our chances.”
Hashtag United will link up with Star Sixes again this summer, and will feature in an exhibition match on the six-a-side pitch on the Star Sixes finals day at The O2 on Sunday 16 July.