TWENTY years ago they were Doncaster Rovers’ big hopes for the future.
But, at the weekend, they will forget about the extra pounds they’ve piled on since they were the stars of the club’s youth team to become a big hope for military charities.
Sunday will serve as a grand reunion for the young hopefuls who were the youth squad from 1991 until 1993.
But it is not just going to be a fun kickabout. It will pitch the older and wiser heads of the class of ’91 against a team of serving Royal Artillery soldiers to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes.
The game has been organised by former player Mark Roe, who never made the first team breakthrough at Rovers, and Army sergeant Chris Nicholson, from the Royal Artillery.
Mark and Chris will captain the two sides when they meet at Gosforth Fields in Dronfield, North Derbyshire, kicking-off at 2pm.
Mark said: “We’ve kept in touch since we were youngsters at Rovers, and we went for a drink before Christmas, and we talked about possibly getting together an over 35s team.
“We didn’t think we were quite up to playing every week, but we thought it would be great to get together and play a game, and we thought it would be even better it we did it for charity.
“For me personally, it’s been about 14 years since I played 11-a-side football. I was told years ago I would be lucky to see 40 without needing a knee replacement.
“But some of us still play five-a-side.”
Mark packed in the beautiful game after he had to go through six operations in two years. He made the bench at Belle Vue, but never got onto the pitch for a first team game, and eventually moved on to Denaby United.
He now runs a physiotherapy clinic on Ridgewood Road, Sheffield.
The players in the game were signed during Billy Bremner’s time as manager of the club.
He said: “Some of the lads are a lot heavier then they were! I think we’re all probably heavier than we were. The Army lads are fitter - but we’re hoping it will be a pretty decent match.”
Among the Rovers veterans taking to the field will be Nicky Limber, who made the Rovers first team and left Rovers to sign for Manchester City, before struggling with injury. He is now a teacher at Danum School.
Other names in the side will include Jamie Roberts, Chris Lee, and Lee Chesters - who after finishing as a footballer went on to become a Tai boxing champion.
The most durable player in the side may be Scott Maxfield, who spent two spells in the Rovers first team, and is still playing semi-professionally for Buxton.
Mark added: “It would be great to have people come and show their support.
“Of course the aim is to raise funds and we’re looking for sponsors for the match or raffle prizes.
“However, we’ve already exceeded our expectations so what we really want is for people to come and cheer the boys on from the sidelines and clap current serving soldiers off the pitch.”