Pupils board the bus for Anfield

Children from St Augustine's Junior School accompanied MP John Mann to Anfield to watch Liverpool FC v Aston Villa (w121215-1)
Children from St Augustine's Junior School accompanied MP John Mann to Anfield to watch Liverpool FC v Aston Villa (w121215-1)

A COACH of schoolchildren left Worksop on a trip of a lifetime to see Liverpool play Aston Villa courtesy of LFC’s sponsors Standard Chartered.

Pupils from St Augustine’s boarded the bus for the match, which saw Liverpool lose 3-1 at home to Villa on Saturday.

The trip was organised by Bassetlaw MP John Mann who surveyed local primary schools this summer and found the vast majority of children had never been to a football match.

On arriving at Anfield, the pupils were whisked into the hospitality suite where they enjoyed a three-course meal, football gifts and photo signing from former LFC player Phil Neal.

They even had a caricaturist sketch their pictures while they tucked into their meal, which featured a lobster dish.

Headteacher Jackie Ryan, who accompanied the children to the match, said it was an ‘absolutely fantastic’ experience.

“The children were treated like absolute royalty from start to finish,” she said.

“A lot of them came to me afterwards and said it was the best day of their lives.”

She added: “I am not really into football but absolutely loved the day. My thanks go to Mr Mann for making it possible.”

Mr Mann said the vast majority of children in his survey had never been to a premier sports fixture.

“For an area like Bassetlaw this did not surprise me but I was concerned,” he said.

“These children are our future, they should have the aspiration and experience of seeing our top athletes and sporting people competing at the highest levels.”

Spurred on by the success of the Olympics, Mr Mann wrote to football clubs, county cricket teams, tennis clubs and their sponsors requesting that they open their doors to children who will never be able to afford the travel and ticket costs to see them play.

Standard Chartered responded immediately and pupils from St Augustine’s went to Liverpool for a first class experience.

Said Mr Mann: “I want every Bassetlaw child to have the opportunity to experience premier level sport.

“This is no longer easily accessible for many people and this needs to change. “

“Seeing a first class sport at first hand is something everybody should be able to do. My thanks go to Standard Chartered for making Saturday possible.”