IN PICTURES: Lytham walking football tournament

Teams from all round North England came together in Lytham for a festival of football – but with a twist.

Walking football has been growing rapidly in the UK for the past year with Fylde proving to be a particular hotspot.

Age UK Lancashire's walking football competition at Lytham Town FC

Age UK Lancashire's walking football competition at Lytham Town FC

The tournament took place at Lytham Town FC, which is just one team in the borough that are showing signs of growing popularity for the sport.

John Williams, development manager of Lytham Town and player in the walking football team, is delighted with how the club is going from strength to strength.

He said: “The team only had four members last September but gradually we have managed to gather more players and now we’re up to 30.

“We hope to have close to 50 as the weather gets better towards summer.

Eight teams made up from Manchester City, Carlisle, Blackpool Football Club Community Trust and Lytham Town all competed for the trophy last Friday.

The tournament was won by Carlisle A who beat Manchester City A in the final on penalties.

Blackpool FC Community Trust’s Dave Maclean, who helped organise Friday’s tournament, was delighted with how the day had gone.

He said: “It all went really well, we have had some brilliant feedback from teams and it was nice to see teams from Carlisle and Lytham get their first real experience of competitive walking football.

“The average age of players is around 60 and it’s a great game for people 50-plus as it gives them a level playing field to compete on.”

Patrick O’Reilly, who plays in the Lytham FC walking football team, said: “It’s the game I wanted to play 20 years ago. I’ve played football all my life and there was nowhere to go when I was kicked out of amateur teams. It’s brilliant for people like us pushing 60, it lets you feel the touch of the ball and play the game we love.

“It keeps us active and it’s lots better than going to the gym as we have made great friendships in the team.”

Billy Singleton, captain of Blackpool Football Club Community Trust team, said: “The team have been together for just more than a year, there is a real club feel to the team.

“It keeps us fit and active and lets us continue playing the game that we have played all our lives, even people like me who are turning 70!

“It’s not just about the football as we have some great social nights with our wives and have a “brew” room where we go after games to discuss the matches.”

David Ward, promotions manager of Age UK Lancashire, was part of the team who set up Lytham Town FC’s walking football group last year and funded the project with the help of Blackpool FC.

He said: “Age UK Lancashire were there to support the tournament and in particular the players representing Lytham Town FC.

“We are hoping to build on the popularity of walking football and find suitable indoor premises to encourage more people from the local area to come along and get involved.”