A FORMER Premier League footballer will join forces with two teams of postmen to help a former York City teammate with a seriously-ill son.

Three-year-old William Rhodes, of Acomb, York, has to have a blood transfusion every five weeks because he has a very rare form of anaemia.

But a genetically matching sibling could be the key to life-changing treatment, and his parents, Ben and Caroline Rhodes, of Hamilton Drive, are raising more than £60,000 so they can try for a second child.

Now Alex Mathie, once of Newcastle United and Ipswich Town, who used to be teammates at York City with Mr Rhodes will kick off the annual postmen’s charity match with him.

“We always have a charity match,” said postman Andy Stone. “This year we decided to do it for the William Rhodes Foundation, he being a York boy. I think it is going to be popular this year.”

William’s courage at combating his illness saw him be crowned joint Child of the Year in The Press’s 2010 Community Pride Awards. So far, the family and its supporters and friends are halfway towards their target.

The trophy for the annual match between the two postal delivery teams based at Leeman Road is currently held by York West, who this year will be led by their delivery office manager, Mike Boyes.

But opponents York Central will have Mr Mathie, who became York Central delivery office manager after leaving professional football, and the match is expected to be close. Competition for places on the two teams is equally fierce, and the successful team members will each pay £5 for the privilege of playing, including substitutes. The match will kick off at 6pm on Friday at York RI, in Acomb, and will include a raffle. Royal Mail is also contributing money to the cause.

Last year, the annual charity match raised £1,000 and organisers are hoping for a good turn-out this year.