1966 World Cup winner, Jack Charlton OBE, showed the next generation of football talent how it is done as he stepped up to take a penalty at a local launch event and buried it in the bottom right corner.
Despite recovering from a hip operation, as soon as he stepped onto the new pitch that he was about to officially open, Jack, 77, could not resist grabbing a football and trying his luck against a delighted junior keeper from Brandon United Football Club.
The former England international and Leeds United defender, part of Sir Alf Ramsey’s famous World Cup winning squad, was officially unveiling a new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch at Meadowfield Leisure Centre in Durham that has been funded with the help of a £78,273 grant from the Football Foundation – the sports charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.
Jack Charlton: “This is a fantastic surface that the Football Foundation has funded. I remember the old artificial pitches that were at QPR and Luton. The ball would bounce so high, you would think it was to take half an hour to come down again. Plus after the game the players would have grazes all over their legs.”
Jack also gave a special pep talk to the youngsters from Brandon FC, advising them: “If you want to make it, listen to your coach!”
Durham County Council worked with the Durham County FA to secure the funding from the Football Foundation. The new pitch is both full-size and floodlit, and can be used for full 11-a-side games, or divided into three to allow smaller teams to play, supporting The FA’s youth football development plan. The floodlights mean that football does not simply stop when it gets dark at around 4pm and the durable, all-weather surface will ensure that more people are able to access regular sport.
Young players from Brandon FC, one of the local clubs that will use the new pitch, showed off their skills on the new surface. The event was also attended by Football Foundation President, Lord Pendry, Durham FA Secretary, John Topping, Middlesbrough FC mascot Roary the Lion, and Durham County Council’s ‘On the Ball’ football coaches.
Brandon FC’s Under-13 captain, Cameron Allan, 12, from Bearpark, Durham, said: “It was an honour to meet someone like Jack Charlton. And I really enjoyed the night – especially playing on the new astro turf, which was the best pitch I have ever played on.”
David Barber, Chair of Brandon FC, said: “It was wonderful to have Jack Charlton come up and we are very grateful to the Football Foundation for their support in helping to build this new pitch. It is a great facility and a great opportunity for the youngsters of Brandon to stay healthy, have fun and to play football.”
Football Foundation President Lord Pendry said on the night: “It is a real honour to have World Cup winner Jack Charlton here to launch this first-class playing surface. Since its launch in 2000 the Football Foundation has helped to build nearly £1bn worth of facilities, such as this, thanks to the generosity of our funding partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England.
“This pitch may well help to produce more stars – more Jack Charltons, perhaps – of the future. But that is not why we do it. We fund the development of new facilities so that more people are able to get access to sport purely for the love playing it and to stay healthy. So congratulations to everyone involved in making this happen and, most importantly, enjoy your football!”
Maria Plews, Local Councillor and Cabinet member with responsibility for sport and leisure services at Durham County Council, said: “We are thrilled to have had this support from the Football Foundation and were delighted to welcome Jack Charlton to the official launch of these new facilities.
“This is such a welcome boost to grassroots football in County Durham and will provide high quality training facilities for young and older players alike.”
Tags: Community News, Football Foundation, Jack Charlton