Arbroath footballers walk way back to fitness and into Spanish competition

The Arbroath team heading out to Spain. Missing from the picture is Stuart Cargill.
The Arbroath team heading out to Spain. Missing from the picture is Stuart Cargill.

A group of walking footballers from Angus hope to emulate the skills of Lionel Messi when they travel to Spain to compete in an international competition.

The team from Arbroath will set up camp in Cambriles, not far from the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, as they prepare to compete in the Lorus Consulting Copa Española.

As the only team flying the flag for Scotland, the Arbroath lads have come a long way since forming two years ago.

They train all year at RM Condor and are enjoying not only keeping fit, but the “banter” between players.

Team member Jim McNairn, 54, who will be joined by seven others when they fly out to Spain next weekend, explained walking football has proved popular for those no longer able to play the game through health reasons or injury.

The slowed-down version of the beautiful game is ideal for those age over-50 who still enjoy the thrill and challenge of matches.

He said: “We have got ex-professional players, former junior players and league players, a good mixture, who are no longer able to play football.

“A couple of guys hadn’t been able to play after their knees gave up or for other injuries.

“They can still enjoy the sport though walking football, and also enjoy the social aspect of it.

“A lot of guys missed the banter of a football team and the social aspect.”

The Angus team is travelling out to Spain full of hope of making it past the group stages.

They are Jim McNairn, Dave Milne, Stuart Cargill, Mike Bell (keeper), Dave Scott, Dave Whitton, Ray Parker and Allan Harrison..

The qualifying matches for the Spanish European Masters Trophy take place on Friday  with the finals played on the Sunday.

They are up against teams from Farnborough, Ramsgate in Kent and Blackburn Rovers in their group.

Jim said: “It’s not the first competition we’ve taken part in.

“We did not bad in the Scottish Cup played at Glasgow Green in the summer and got through to the quarter finals but lost on penalties.”

The Arbroath lads originally trained at Arbroath High School before moving to the indoor and outdoor facilities at RM Condor.

They play six-aside football, with a team of eight travelling to Spain in time for next weekend’s competition.

Some of the regular walking footballers who train at RM Condor in Arbroath.

Jim concluded: “Our oldest player is 78, although he’s not going to Spain with us.

“When we formed two years ago a lot of us thought we would never play football again and here we are heading off to Spain for an international competition.”

The team meets every Wednesday evening at RM Condor at 7.10 for a 7.30pm start.

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