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Women of Grimsby Corinthians Walking Football team share their stories

The mantra for each Corinthian player is simple – play slow, play fair, play well. Based in Grimsby, the club has welcomed players of all abilities to participate since 2018 to bring together people who share an enthusiasm for football.

Whether it is an ex-player or spectator cheering on from the sidelines, every person has a different story and reason for stepping onto a walking football pitch.
Four women who make up the Grimsby Corinthians – Michelle Hurst, Lesley Smith, Lorraine Stiff, and Sally Starkey – each tell their very own story.

Michelle Hurst

For Michelle Hurst, it all began sitting on her grandad’s knee watching Man City FC on the television. Her younger self switched from watching football to becoming a player of the former county Humberside’s team.

As a Grimsby Town season ticket holder, Michelle loves football – then, now, and undoubtedly forever.

“I started playing for the Grimsby Corinthians in June 2021,” she explains.

“I love football so any chance to play, particularly at my age and ability, meant I jumped at the chance.”

At the age of 52, the Daily Express journalist found that the pace of walking football allowed her to play the sport she loved from childhood once more.

“I’ve made some lifelong friends at Grimsby Corinthians and, above all else, we always have a laugh,” Michelle enthuses.

Lesley Smith

Lesley Smith, a retired Procurement Supervisor for the NHS, spent her life as a football fan rather than a player. Whether it was in the stands cheering on Grimsby Town FC, supporting her sons’ (now 37 and 39) football teams whilst they were at school, to watching her grandson be coached by her son many years later.

That is until she joined the Grimsby Corinthians in 2021 at 60 years old.

“I never had the opportunity to play the game I love until I was 60 so jumped at the opportunity,” explains Lesley.

After a lifetime of being surrounded and watching football, Lesley put on a pair of boots, became the first-ever captain of the Grimsby Corinthians Ladies team, and was picked as player of the match after a cup qualifier.

Lorraine Stiff

Although eager to try walking football after seeing it advertised, it was encouragement from a friend that pushed Lorraine Stiff to make the first step towards becoming a Grimsby Corinthian.

“I’m not a runner, I don’t like it at all, but love football, ” is the reason why Lorraine never participated in the sport she watched since the age of 5.

Now aged 56, Lorraine can enjoy playing and watching football.

Sally Starkey

Animal rights activist, festival goer, and Liverpool FC enthusiast – Sally Starkey is anything but short of hobbies and outlets, one of her biggest interests being football. The 49-year-old is a regular attendee of matches at Anfield Stadium and a huge football fan.

“I have toured the world home and away following England and been to many World Cups and European tournaments such as Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Qatar,” she enthuses.

Sally at England game

“Witnessing the success of the Lionesses and the legacy that developed from their achievements,” at the European Games is what inspired Sally to try playing the game herself.

The tweaks of the rules made to the game making it possible for Sally to play and overcome obstacles caused by her age and fitness capabilities.

“I had never played football before and felt walking football opened the door for me to play the game,” explains Sally.

Alongside her supportive team and coach with an “anything is possible attitude”, Sally has fully immersed herself as a Grimsby Corinthian.

Although each player’s story differs ever so slightly, being a Grimsby Corinthian is the epitome of walking football, a game centered around building friendships with people from all different walks of life and making it possible for everyone to play such an infamous sport.

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