Villa Park to host 'Top Gun' penalty shootout

A one-off penalty shootout with a difference is to be held at Villa Park – between two Birmingham business journalists. Birmingham Mail business editor Jon Griffin and former Birmingham Post business editor John Duckers are to dust off their boots in front of around 40,000 people for the charity event.

The shootout will take place at half-time during next month’s Manchester City game – with two teams of three taking 12 penalties in total. Aston Villa agreed to the shootout after Griffin and Duckers shared last year’s Midlands Business Journalist of the Year when judges appointed by event organisers Birmingham Press Club were unable to separate their entries.

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The two writers, both members of Birmingham Press Club, decided the “top gun” title should go to a shootout – and Villa officials agreed the event could be held in front of a packed crowd at the home game against the current league champions on Monday, March 4. The event is being held to raise funds for Aston Villa charity Acorns Hospice, which helps terminally-ill children and their families, providing hospice care at centres in Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester.

The event is being supported by Barclays, who are helping with the fundraising. Guests on the night will have the opportunity to bid for an Aston Villa shirt signed by the current squad in order to raise further funds for Acorns. If you are interested in tickets for this event, please contact Lisa Kennedy at Barclays on 07775 548426.

Griffin and Duckers will each captain two teams of three and the event will be refereed by regional Barclays executive Ray O’Donoghue while Press Club Chairman Ed James will act as goalkeeper on the night. He said: “I’m a Villa fan and so are my boys, who will also be at the match. Their big favourites are goalkeepers Brad Friedel and Shay Given – so no pressure on me then when they watch me performing between the goalposts!”

The dynamic duo are also being joined by two former Villa players who are making up the two teams – England international Tony Daley and England B international Riccardo Scimeca Mansfield Town supporter FC Griffin, aged 57, said: “I last kicked a ball in anger over 20 years ago but this is such a good cause that I’m quite prepared to make a fool of myself in front of 40,000 people.”

Sixty-one-year-old Duckers, a Moseley RFC follower, said: “Rugby has always been my game rather than football so I already have a good excuse if the ball flies over the bar.” Ray O’Donoghue of Barclays, said: “We are delighted to support this one-off event, which aims to help a very worthy cause.”

If you want to make a personal donation then log on to www.justgiving.com/John-Duckers

Entries for this year’s Midlands Media Awards, which take place in June, are now being accepted from journalists, photographers and broadcasters from throughout the region. Full details on how to enter the awards are obtainable from Paula Kelsey on 0115 841 9699 or 07774 741883 or by e-mailing paula@cloud9em.co.ukand details are also on the official Midlands Media Awards website at www.mma2013.co.uk