Guiseley AFC supporters are rallying round to support the club’s legendary goalkeeper Steve Dickinson who is to represent England Veterans in a World Cup Tournament in Thailand in June.
They are getting behind their man with sponsorship for the trip by organising a fund raising event at The Station pub in Guiseley with a free Guiseley AFC season ticket on offer as one of the prizes in a giant dartboard football game.
This will take place on Thursday 24th May from 5.30pm.
Dickinson, who includes 503 games for Guiseley in a career total of over 1,000 league games taking in a long spell at Southport as well as shorter spells at Leigh Genesis, Bradford Park Avenue, Alfreton Town and Frickley, has also been goalkeeper coach at Guiseley for the past few seasons.
He plays for Harrogate Veterans, who last weekend reached the finals of the National Veterans’ Cup beating Peckham 4-3 after extra-time at Tamworth.
Dickinson, a former Bradford City youth and reserve team player, will play in the final the night before he leaves for his World Cup trip.
The Lions’ legend will travel with an England squad that includes Peter Beagrie and is aiming to complete a hat-trick of wins having lifted the World Cup in both 2016 and 2017 and also won in 2009 and 2014.
Thailand were the first winners in 2006 and they won again in 2008 while Iran registered a hat-trick of wins in 2011, 12 and 13 and won the trophy again in 2015 while Australia were the other winners triumphing in 2010.
The FA approved England squad is made up of ex-pros still playing regularly with a desire to represent their country.
Dickinson said: “Although I toured abroad with Middlesex Wanderers representative team when I was younger I never expected this sort of thing to come my way and I am really looking forward to it.”
“I have enjoyed playing for the Harrogate Veterans team this season and we have done well to reach the National final.”
As well as Beagrie other ex-pros in the squad include former Guiseley winger Lee Elam who, like Dickinson, also joined Southport at one time and moved on to play for a number of Football League clubs before taking up a youth coaching role at Bradford City.
Dickinson said: “The heat, humidity and the Age Rules are all challenging with goalkeepers having to be 38 plus; three players between 38 and 43 years; four players between 44 and 49 years and three players being 50 plus.”
The squad flies out on May 30th making a connection in Abu Dhabi for Bangkok and after a few days preparation will play a friendly against a Thai Bangkok X1 on June 2nd at the RBAC Stadium in Bangkok.
They will have a three-hour coach journey the following day to Hua Hin where they will check in to the tournament hotel.
There will be a team meeting the following day before the tournament’s Opening Ceremony and World Cup games will follow over the next three days
On the Thursday, the players’ free day, the international teams will visit schools taking with them giveaways from their clubs and taking part in coaching sessions.
This will be followed by a Gala Dinner in the evening prior to the semi-finals of the Seniors’ World Cup and Shield being played on June 8th.
Further fixtures depend on England’s progress in the competition with the finals being played on June 9th.
The finals will be followed by another dinner and the England squad will leave for home on June 10th.
Initially conceived by the Senior Football Association of Thailand to promote the country and tourism in the wake of the Tsunami, the tournament has become an annual event that has seen 18 countries being invited to compete over the past 11 years.
The competition is held in a different province of Thailand each year and is particularly embraced by the provinces outside of Bangkok and the tourist areas.
As well as experiencing the Thai culture, the participating countries are also to give something back on the Football For Kids day which involves coaching the less privileged schoolchildren in the community.
The local schools often provide support and a noisy atmosphere in the stadiums.
The tournament has evolved considerably since it’s early years and many of the countries field ex-professionals and some ex-internationals.
An England Seniors side first participated in 2008 with just two ex-pros in their squad but in 2017 there were 16 who between them had amassed over 7,000 league games.