Football: Vicar and plasterer in Veterans World Cup squad

Frank Lennon
Plasterer Frank Lennon has represented Wales in veterans football for the past decade

A 76-year-old plasterer who could never get a game of football at school is among those hoping to represent Wales in the Veterans World Cup this summer.

Frank Lennon joined Welsh veterans football a decade ago and plays in international matches.

"When I got to 60-odd I found there weren't so many players around, and I could always run," he said.

For the first time, Wales is hosting the Over 70s and Over 75s Football World Cup.

Competitors from as far away as Norway, Germany, Denmark and the United States are already signed up to attend the event at Cardiff University's Llanrumney Fields between 20 and 23 August.

Mr Lennon, who is originally from Scotland but has lived in Wales for more than 30 years, said he was already prepping for the big event.

"You get your weight, your fitness, you learn the Welsh national anthem, getting practice with other players and get to know the ones you don't know," he said.

Tim Bowker has been invited to manage Wales Over 75s and said they were hoping "to put on the best show" in Cardiff.

He faces the task of narrowing potential players to a squad of 14.

"The main aim is to give the guys some fun, to get people up and running," he said.

'Attack is the way forward'

Mr Bowker, who also plays for Wales Over 65s, said competing in a World Cup brought great pride to players.

"At any age, to play in a World Cup, ok we're not playing Pele and Bobby Moore, but you're still representing your country, it's great.

"The philosophy is if we score more goals than the opposition, we win the game. Nobody's interested in a nil nil draw, attack is the way forward."

The Over 70s are set to play 11-a-side, with the older category playing seven-a-side on a smaller pitch.

Tim Bowker
Over 75s team manager Tim Bowker must whittle down the hopefuls to a squad of 14

Keith Beardmore, 81, has worked as a vicar in Newport but can be seen jogging down the pitch in training.

"Once they give you a dog collar, you never retire," he said.

He said he had played football since he was in school and still enjoyed it.

He has played for Wales in an Over 70s international against England before, adding: "'I think most people think it's walking football, [bit] mentally I can't get my head around walking football.

"If there's a ball there and two of us are going for it, I'm going to run to get it."

Keith Beardmore
Keith Beardmore, 81, says he will always go and run for a ball despite his age

Gerry Jones, 73, previously played professional football for clubs including Luton Town, managed by Alex Stock, and Crewe, while Jimmy Mealey was in charge.

He also worked as a publican and for Royal Mail before retiring.

"[Now] I'm a full time footballer again," he said.

"It's a great honour, even at 73, to put the red shirt on.

"It makes you tingle."

Gerry Jones
Gerry Jones says getting out on the pitch and competing "makes you tingle"

Cardiff University said it was delighted to welcome the Over 70s Football World Cup.

"Our investment in new sporting facilities has enabled us to bring high profile global events to Cardiff and Wales," it said.

"We are sure the teams and competitors will enjoy their time with us."