GOLDSWORTH Park Rangers rolled out the red carpet on Saturday to welcome England’s World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst to Wishbone Way.
As the Head of McDonald’s community football programme, the 1966 Jules Rimet Trophy winner was the guest of honour at the latest edition of Rangers’ annual summer tournament, which saw around 1,600 youngsters aged as young as five join in the football fun over the two-day event.
The only man to score a World Cup Final hat-trick, Sir Geoff was happy to oblige with some advice and autographs for the youngsters. He said: “It’s great to see all these young kids playing football and enjoying themselves.
“It’s great what McDonald’s are doing for clubs like Goldsworth Park Rangers; with better equipment, coaching, facilities and, very importantly, better recognition for all the volunteers.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the volunteers and all they do for the community, it’s priceless. Today’s event is a classic example of a community coming together: the parents and families all out for a great day together. I think there will be 2,000 people here over the weekend, it’s fantastic.”
GPR officials Andy Morgan (Secretary) and Lee Swain (Chairman) also gained praise from Sir Geoff, who added: “Without people like Andy, Lee and their team putting hours of work in, days like today just don’t happen. It takes a huge amount of organisation to put this all together.”
As a big fan of female football, the Three Lions legend said the girls’ and women’s competitions at the tournament illustrated how far the game has come, even in his 14 years working as an ambassador.
“It’s [the women’s game] an area that’s grown dramatically over the 14 years I’ve worked with the community programme.
“The FA Charter Standard programme [which GPR are a member of] is important: they have got lots of girls playing
here today, and the numbers across the country are growing dramatically.”
From talk of the Lionesses to the men’s Three Lions, Sir Geoff rates highly the chances of Roy Hodgson’s current crop emulating the class of 1966 in lifting an international trophy at Euro 2016 in France: “I think we will reach at least the quarter-finals or semis, and when you get that far you never know…”
The two-day event was sponsored by Waterfalls Estate Agency and Chertsey Road’s McDonald’s.
Picture Special in this week’s News & Mail.