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Stalwart Joan set for football dream

PUBLISHED: 10:07 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 06 July 2010

MORE than 30 years after helping a boys' football team fulfil their Wembley dreams, Joan Durrant will be able to enjoy her first ever professional match this weekend as part of her 80th birthday celebrations.

MORE than 30 years after helping a boys' football team fulfil their Wembley dreams, Joan Durrant will be able to enjoy her first ever professional match this weekend as part of her 80th birthday celebrations.

Mrs Durrant, of Kirkley Cliff Road in Lowestoft, first got involved in football when she was asked to help with the South Lowestoft Salvation Army boys' team in the late 1960s.

The team soon found their feet and after playing in a Salvation Army youth league, they got the chance to play on the sacred turf of Wembley Stadium in 1978.

Now Mrs Durrant, who will turn 80 on New Year's Day and has spent more than 30 years taking local children on holiday through the Salvation Army, is looking forward to her first taste of professional football when she watches Norwich City take on Millwall at Carrow Road on Boxing Day.

She said: “Through the Salvation Army, I've come to do all sorts of interesting things, and football was one of those. Sadly my boys' team did not win at Wembley, but on one of our later holidays to Sunbury, near London, a visit was allowed to the twin tower venue.

“They were allowed to look round the hallowed dressing rooms, tour the stands and hold aloft a replica of the famous cup. The stadium was very impressive.”

Now a widow, Mrs Durrant first became involved in the Salvation Army after a proposal from a “very, very shy, young, handsome Salvation Army bandsman way back in 1946.”

Mrs Durrant, who has nine grandchildren and one great-grandson, will be spending Christmas with her son and his family in Lincolnshire before being taken to Carrow Road for the match on Boxing Day.

“I am looking forward to it, I just hope the weather doesn't cause any problems. It will be a great way to celebrate my birthday,” she said.

As well as cheering on Norwich City, Mrs Durrant's decades of hard work with the Salvation Army will be marked with a celebration with family and friends at the Lowestoft South Salvation Army on January 1.


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