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Ronnie regales Royals with Reds tales

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:41 06 July 2010

Mark Boggis

FORMER Liverpool legend Ronnie Whelan wowed a sell-out crowd on a record-breaking night for Kirkley & Pakefield FC.

The eighth annual sportsman's dinner for The Royals attracted more than 250 people to the club's Walmer Road ground on Friday.

Mark Boggis

FORMER Liverpool legend Ronnie Whelan wowed a sell-out crowd on a record-breaking night for Kirkley & Pakefield FC.

The eighth annual sportsman's dinner for The Royals attracted more than 250 people to the club's Walmer Road ground on Friday.

And on his first-ever appearance in Lowestoft, Whelan admitted he was impressed by the set up at K&P.

“I've been hearing the history about the football club and it's magnificent what they have done over the last few years,” he told The Journal.

“They were saying it was like a recreation pitch a couple of years ago, a few years back they've gone up the leagues three times so they look as if they've done a great job the pitch looks magnificent.

“I remember playing on pitches at the end of the season in the 80s and the pitches would be just mud and hard ground but that pitch looks just brilliant outside there it's a very, very good set up,” he said.

Recounting tales from the Liverpool glory-days, Whelan was given a standing ovation as he took to the stage.

And still looking in fine condition after playing 40 minutes the previous evening at Anfield in a charity game, Whelan admitted he loved his time playing the game and now enjoys his involvement in reporting on matches with Irish media.

Whenever he can, Whelan still plays for The Liverpool Legends team and this also takes him all over the world.

“The lads just love playing and we have a very, very good ex-players society,” he said.

“We do golf days, we do games in Norway, we've been to Canada, Jamaica, we've been all over the place.”

The midfield maestro won numerous trophies with The Reds during a glittering spell - but he revealed that he grew up as a Manchester United fan. And in terms of leaving behind his Dublin home to sign for Liverpool, Whelan revealed that the community aspect - much like the efforts of community club K&P - is important in producing footballers in the future.

Getting kids off the streets is therefore close to his heart.

“Back home I played for an amateur club in Dublin called Home Farm and its huge,” said Whelan.

“I remember being a kid and starting off and yes you were there to play football but they brought you up properly to treat people with respect and be nice.

“It wasn't just all football it was about bringing kids along to respect everybody and to be nice kids and I think that's the way it should be with football.”

From his time playing football with Liverpool and the Republic of Ireland, in management with Southend and spells in Greece and Cyprus, and now on television and radio in Ireland Whelan regaled the audience with tales from the past.

These included Journal competition winners Lawrence Shreeve, Gary Cunningham, Andy Hind and Tommy Hind, who all enjoyed the evening.

As well as the star appearance from Whelan, the top table included Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, Journal editor Russell Cook, comedian Lester Crabtree and K&P's Keith Cotterill and the audience enjoyed a meal, raffle and auction, which raised a record-breaking £4,650 for seven items, as a signed Cristiano Ronaldo shirt sold for £2,200.

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