It’Ll Be No Walk In The (Villa) Park!

A leisurely stroll down Wembley Way, soaking up the pre-match atmosphere, will be a traditional staple for the thousands of Aston Villa fans descending on the EFL Championship Play-Off Final.

But just 24 hours earlier, a couple of Villa legend Des Bremner’s latest club-mates will be taking an altogether more strenuous stroll back in Brum.

Derek Walton, aged 68, and Sean Madden, 19, who are joined by League and European Cup winner Des at the Aston Villa Foundation’s weekly walking football sessions, will be tackling the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K as part of the Walking Wave.

Runners and walkers of all abilities will line-up for the new-look 6.2-mile course – the approximate distance of 21 wanders down Wembley Way – on Bank Holiday Sunday May 26.

Some 350 of last year’s participants walked the route and even more are expected to join Derek and Sean in the 2019 Walking Wave.

Derek has been attending Villa’s walking football sessions since they kicked off two years and there was a special treat for players this week when Des brought along a replica of the European Cup he lifted in Rotterdam in 1982.

Anyone over 50, both women and men, can attend the Aston Villa Foundation’s walking football session at the Academy Building, Villa Park, on Tuesdays from 2pm-3pm. Women-only sessions are also held there on Thursdays from 9.30am-10.30am.

Its growing popularity saw the Aston Villa Foundation launch two further mixed groups last month – for over-50s at Streetly Community Centre (Wednesdays, 5.30pm-6.30pm) and for over-45s at Boldmere St Michaels (Fridays 10:30-11:30).

Derek, a retired BT engineer from Castle Bromwich, said: “The 10K having a Walking Wave is a great idea. Just like walking football, it gives people of all ages a chance to take part and be active.

“I stopped playing five-a-side about ten years ago and, now I’m in my late 60s, walking football is a great substitute. It may be a slower-paced version of the game but it’s still competitive and is a brilliant way to meet people and exercise.

“It’s great that Des comes down. He’s just as competitive as ever!”

With two Colmore Row start-lines, either side of its junction with Bennetts Hill, the 10K will head down Bennetts Hill and turn left onto New Street, crossing Corporation Street alongside the Apple store, the stunning grade II-listed building built in 1869 as the head office of the Midland Bank.

After passing the Rotunda and Bullring Bull, runners and walkers of all abilities will be greeted by the world’s biggest Primark store on High Street.

Participants will also go past Birmingham Children’s Hospital before leaving the city centre to continue along the A34, where bands and live music will motivate those taking part, and a grandstand finish back in the city centre at Aston University.

Sean, a Sports Leader for the Aston Villa Foundation who helps run the walking football groups, added: “Our sessions are becoming increasingly popular and it’s really important we, as a Foundation, create opportunities for people of all ages to exercise.

“The 10K mirrors that. It will be a great social occasion and Derek and I are looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere.”

The 10K again features the ENGIE Business Challenge, which pits corporate teams of at least four runners against each other for fastest-time trophies in small, medium or large business categories to compete for silverware.

Coffee shops and stores will be open for business along the city centre streets hosting the 10K, making it a great opportunity for spectators to spend Bank Holiday Weekend in the Second City while cheering on friends and family.

It’s not too late to enter the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k and be part of the action.
Participants signing-up this week will need to pick up their run pack from the Customer Information Points in the city centre. These late entries also incur a £5 admin fee, payable at point of entry.

Customer Information Points are: Saturday May 25, 11am to 5pm, Aston University. Sunday May 26, from 8.30am, New Street, near the junction with Bennetts Hill.

Anyone who enters the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K will receive £10 off their entry fee for the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon, which takes place on Sunday, October 13, 2019. Sign up now at