In the 1980s, Tony Jones and Trevor Hanson were lining up together in the North West Counties League playing for local side Whinney Hill.
Thirty years on, the pair are back together, preparing for an opportunity to represent England’s walking football team for the very first time.
Jones and Hanson, who are regulars for Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s walking football side, will attend the north regional England trials at Burnley’s Gawthorpe Hall training base.
Hanson and Jones will be vying for a spot at the national trials and ultimately, being named in the England squad.
“I am absolutely over the moon,” revealed Jones, who plays in the heart of defence. “I can’t wait for Saturday’s trial and I can’t put into words how I feel apart from ‘delighted’.
“If I get through and have the chance to pull on an England shirt and represent my country, it will be a very proud day.”
Jones is the son of former Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Bob Jones, so football and his beloved local team have always been a huge part of his life since an early age.
Only four years ago, at the age of 59, Jones retired from playing competitive 11-a-side football at weekends, but walking football has been the perfect substitute for him.
Talking about how he fell in love with the slower paced version of the game, Jones said: “I enjoy playing walking football, it’s a gentler pace and you don’t pick up as many injures.
“Two years ago, my son saw an article on the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust website about how their walking football team was about to play their first ever friendly against Fleetwood Town.
“I was playing five-a-side with my son but our team folded because we couldn’t get enough players to commit every week, so the chance to play walking football was perfect.
“My son showed my wife the article because I wasn’t in at the time and she suggested that he should show me, so it worked out well as she suggested I should play and not me,” joked Jones.
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s walking football team has just celebrated their second year anniversary and Jones concluded by praising the opportunities the team and the weekly training sessions have provided for participants.
He concluded: “The Trust and walking football has provided opportunities for the older generation to keep active and remain fit.
“It is a great opportunity for those who have a level of ability and want to play competitively and for those who just want to exercise by doing something different.
“We have a very successful team and we do well in most tournaments we compete in and I have made some great friends just by playing walking football. It is a very friendly environment and I would encourage anyone interested to give the game a go.”
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust would like to wish Tony and Trevor the very best for their trials this weekend.
Here are a few headline stats about sports participation activities at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust from 2017...
• We engaged with 482 girls through the Premier League Girls programme.
• 80 primary schools across Lancashire entered our EFL Kids Cup heats during the 2017/18 season.
• 240 girls played in our EFL Girls Cup heats during the 2017/18 season.
• 320 participants have benefited from our walking football programmes.
• More than 1,000 young people have benefited from our multi-sport activity and soccer camps in 2017.
• We have engaged with an average of 1,000 young people at Blackburn Youth Zone through over 20 different sports.