Highlands & Islands

Still game: Football team with a combined age of 330

Five-a-side team Image copyright Graham Cross
Image caption Five of the team is (back row, from left) Derek Dodds, Alistair Norrie and Frank Gaskell and Brian Colgan and Robert MacDonald

A group of friends with a combined age of 330 have dubbed themselves the world's oldest five-a-side team.

Most of the team have been meeting regularly for a kickabout since 1982.

The regular squad comprises Derek Dodds, Alistair Norrie, Brian Colgan, Robert MacDonald and Frank Gaskell, who is the oldest at 71.

They have called themselves the world's oldest fives for a charity football festival they have organised for male and female teams of all ages.

Most weeks, the friends meet up on a Thursday to play football at Inverness' Millburn Academy.

Depending on how many other players they can muster, the friends play games of four, five or eight-a-side.

And they have a tradition of whenever one of the team has turned 60, they hire an indoor pitch at the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall for a celebratory game.

'Broken fingers'

The players have helped to organise, and entered themselves to compete in, this weekend's Inverness' High Fives for All Indoor Football Festival. It will raise funds for the children's charity CHAS.

Mr Gaskell said: "We appreciate that we can still play and wanted to give something back to young people who may never have had the chance to kick a football."

He added: "We aim to continue playing as long as we can."

Graham Cross, another older footballer who often joins the kickabouts, said the group of friends were the core of a large one that met for a game in the 1980s.

He said: "Some have moved away and back and others have joined and, in fact, many of our sons have joined us at various times through the years.

"We play normal fives rules and as football is a contact sport we do have injuries.

"Last year alone the injuries included a broken nose, broken fingers, various muscle injuries, temporary deafness as well as some minor scuffles."

He added: "We keep playing because we love it and don't want to give up. Most of us enjoy other sporting activities such as golf, curling, badminton, tennis, cycling etc.

"We also socialise together and the banter is always good fun.

"It is also addictive and a few have retired but then started playing again.

"Our latest team member is 63 and had stopped playing because of a back complication. He missed football, so he tried walking football but found it too slow so came to play with us."

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