The players had both been at Derby County in the 1970’s but lost contact after Lawrence took the opportunity to play in New Zealand for Dunedin City AFC. Berni also went on to spend time playing the beautiful game in Australia.
Berni is now a regular participant for the Catchgate ‘Pacemakers’ and Lawrence Shields plays for the Sliver Soccer Waling Football initiative set up through Gateshead F.C. Last night the pair played together for the first time in more than 50 years in the Durham County FA Walking Football League at Whickham School, near Gateshead.
Pacemaker Berni and his opponent for the evening Lawrence were both thrilled by the reunion and couldn’t hide their surprise at meeting up again after more than 5 decades, demonstrating first-hand the impact Walking Football is having across the county. ‘It just shows you what walking football can bring; we love it, I never thought we would play together again’, enthused Berni.
Alysha Cook, the Football Development Officer for Durham County FA who set up the new league, is delighted with the success of the new opportunities for over 50’s to get back involved in the game. "This is just one story of how powerful football and walking football can be, we hope through our Walking Football programme we can give people the chance to play again in a fun and safe environment, Walking Football is growing rapidly across the country with over 1100 teams playing nationally. We want to support more players to take part. You don’t have to be ex pros to play in our league, players are from a wide range of abilities but all are made welcome".
For more information on the Durham County FA Walking Football League and how both males and females over 50 years of age can get involved in local Walking Football sessions please get in touch with Paul Jarps (Paul.Jarps@DurhamFA.com) or Alysha Cook (Alysha.Cook@DurhamFA.com) at Durham County FA on 0191 3872928.