England legend Sir Geoff Hurst visited Hereford and met the young football stars of tomorrow. World cup hat-trick hero Hurst, still the only man to score three times in a World Cup final, visited us to promote the FA Community Awards.
“I really enjoy turning up at clubs like this and see the young kids who start from the age of five here start on their road in football,” said Sir Geoff.
“Grassroots football is the lifeblood of the game and clubs like Hereford Lads Club are so important to communities up and down the country.
“They are an excellent club that offers football to players of all abilities.
“All football starts at grassroots, most of the players we see at the top end now in the Premier League and the national side would have started at four or five years of age at clubs like this.
“If you take away these facilities and the people involved, grassroots football would be in a sorry state.”
“It is absolutely vital to the progress of our top players.
“There is no question that the greater number of players we have at this level, the greater they will be at the top end.”
“Our voting starts now for the FA Community Awards, sponsored by McDonald’s, and we want everyone to vote for their heroes, whether it be a league or a club, a coach, someone may have served as a chairman or served teas forever.”“You see people around here, like the coaches and players, the chairman of the club, are all an important aspect of giving young kids an opportunity to play football in a fun and safe environment.
Many of Lads Club’s young players had their photograph taken with Hurst and got his autograph, while the England legend also oversaw some of their training sessions.
Indie-Mae Allen Allen, who plays for the under-10 Pumas side, was one player who had her photo taken with him.
“It was nice to meet him and really good,” said Indie-Mae, who is a midfielder/striker for her team.
Hereford Lads Club chairman Wayne Sheehan said it was a proud day for the club and that the club were honoured to welcome Sir Geoff the former West Ham and England star.
“To welcome Sir Geoff Hurst to our club was an amazing experience and one that the parents and players haven’t stopped talking about,” said Wayne.
“His achievements in football are outstanding and we are thrilled that he took the time to visit us.
“We are lucky to be blessed with dedicated volunteers who put in so much time into supporting the club, it would be very rewarding experience if we were to be nominated and successful.”
Lads Club was formed in 1925 and currently has 14 boy and 15 girl teams, as well as two adult sides.
“Football at grassroots level has been a bit tough these last few years, so getting parents involved in clubs is essential,” added Wayne.
“So the more we can get things like this, the better.”
Football development officer Jason Watkins added that the club are heavily involved in the community.
“We go into schools and get ourselves involved in the community as much as we can,” he said.
“As we are a charity, we hold fundraising events here as well.
“It’s nice to see all the children see Geoff Hurst. When you explain to him who he is and what he’s achieved, their eyes light up and want to meet him.