Shoot-out Showdown at Villa Park raised valuable funds for Acorns

Villa Park had never seen the likes of it before – and never will again! A half-time penalty shoot-out between two journalists – and a radio breakfast show presenter in goal. Here, one of the goal-grabbers, ex-Birmingham Post Business Editor JOHN DUCKERS, reflects on his night of (almost) glory!

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No pressure then. I refer to the penalty shootout with a difference held last night (March 4) at Villa Park – between Birmingham Mail Business Editor Jon Griffin and myself in front of around 33,000 fans. And it ended in a 5-5 draw.

Talk now of a cricket contest. Griff is threatening to hold a competition at Edgbaston to break the deadlock. I might just emigrate instead!

In the build-up there had been much encouragement from the troops. “Try and keep out of the obituary columns,” said Glyn Pitchford, while Neil Pountney commented: “Contrary to popular opinion you do have a heart – I wonder whether it’s medically up to this!”

Yes, thanks guys.

Not helped by having to sign a ‘disclaimer’ that in the event I expired I wouldn’t sue anyone! And the ‘supporters’ on the night weren’t much better – John James was heavily betting against my good self.

Swine!

It took a shot which missed the net completely to get my eye in; then hammered the next two. Admittedly Birmingham Press Club's Ed James, of Heart FM, wasn’t the world’s greatest goalkeeper. Last of the big spenders, I’d offered him a £5 bribe to throw the ‘match’ and unbelievably he refused.

Thankfully it wasn’t needed!

Naturally, after this half time ‘exhibition’, I had hoped to be kept on for the second period and, given Villa lost 0-1 to Manchester City, one wonders what might have been! Gutted, I was. Just to remind you – all for a great cause, Aston Villa charity Acorn’s Children’s Hospice, which helps terminally-ill children and their families, providing care at centres in Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester.

You can still contribute via www.justgiving.com/john-duckers and thank you so much for those who have already done so.

Aston Villa agreed to host the event after the two of us shared last year’s Midlands Business Journalist of the Year award when judges appointed by event organisers Birmingham Press Club were unable to separate the entries.

The shoot-out was organised and financially supported by Barclays Bank – well-done Lisa Kennedy – who purchased a small number of hospitality packages for spectators, and have been brilliant.

Naturally I must also thank my coach, Andy Coyne, Editor of The Business Desk (brave guy, he still admits to being a Villa fan). Jon and myself each captained two teams of three and the event was refereed by regional Barclays executive Ray O’Donoghue.

Former Villa players, England international Lee Hendrie and England B international Riccardo Scimeca, took part and the Birmingham Mail ran a competition to find two youngsters, aged 11 to 14, to join in the fun.

Seven sets of penalties – me and the Griff missed one apiece and so did the kids. Not that it mattered. It was a great night and Acorns ran out the winner.