Ex-Gunner keen to help Bexhill

Ex-Arsenal star Nigel Winterburn is part of the Lashings squad
Ex-Arsenal star Nigel Winterburn is part of the Lashings squad

Lashings All-Stars captain Perry Groves has said his love for the game and the idea of helping out non-league football clubs is why he and his team-mates are keen to come to Bexhill next week.

The former Arsenal midfielder will skipper a side made up of ex-professionals to take on a Bexhill United Legends XI on Thursday night at The Polegrove.

The football match kicks-off at 6pm and will be followed by a banquet in which Groves and his team-mates will accompany guests at their tables to entertain with stories from days gone by.

“With all proceeds going to Bexhill United, we hope to raise the club some money,” Groves explained. “It’s tough for non-league teams, so the Lashings All-Stars have been founded to try and help out.”

Groves and his side will be playing in just their second game together following their recent formation and the ex-Gunner explained the other reasons why the team has been set up.

“We decided to create the side because I think the lack of access between the modern day player and the fans is a shame,” Groves said. “We decided this gives supporters the chance to meet and mingle with guys who have played at the top level; hear their stories and share a beer with them. It’s a unique opportunity.

“Our ethos is that everyone who turns out for the Lashings side has a personality and is willing to stick around after the game and meet the fans. We do it for the love of the game and the feeling that our experiences should be shared and we can give something back.”

Ex-West Ham and Leicester forward Tony Cottee will be player-manager of a Lashings side which will be selected from Neil Webb, Nigel Winterburn, Kerry Dixon, Matt Holland, Mark Wright, Clayton Blackmore, David Howells, Steve Claridge, David Hillier and Des Walker, as well as others. Neil Ruddock is set to captain the Bexhill team.

TV personalities Ralf Little and Max Rushden featured in Lashings’ first game, and both are due to appear in Bexhill if their media schedules don’t clash.

“All our team’s shirts and shorts have been ordered, in XXL sizes of course,” Groves joked. “I want to assure everyone we’re not wearing a lycra kit, even though it may look as such!

“To be fair, though, most of our lads do have the skills still, we’re just carrying a few more kilos than we used to and our Cruyff turns might be a bit slower than they were. We’re really looking forward to visiting Bexhill.”