Saturday 22 October 2016

Wembley date for choir of fans

Published 17/04/2015 | 00:06

The winners will sing the traditional Abide With Me hymn
The winners will sing the traditional Abide With Me hymn

A choir made up of 64 football fans will sing at Wembley during this year's FA Cup Final, including two Elvis impersonators, a karaoke champion, and a 100-year-old supporter.

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The BBC's Songs Of Praise launched a competition to find a representative of each of the 64 teams which played in the third round of the competition this year, and received over 1,300 applications.

The winners will sing the traditional Abide With Me hymn, with the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, in front of 90,000 people on May 30.

Fans were told that no singing experience was necessary - but the winners will now be given an online lesson to practise before the big day.

The 64 men and women will meet up for the first time on the day before the final and will rehearse the hymn on Wembley's pitch.

The winners include:

:: Newcastle fan Jim Errington, who will be 100 just before the game.

The retired Methodist minister was nominated by a woman he christened in the 1950s.

He first went to watch Newcastle in 1928 as a schoolboy, paying sixpence to catch the bus to St James's Park, and another sixpence to get into watch a game. He got a season ticket in the 1980s when they were first introduced.

:: Liverpool fan David Gilhooley, 52, who survived the Hillsborough tragedy. He stopped going to football games afterwards, but his daughter persuaded him to go to matches again.

:: Margaret Lupton, 67, a Burnley supporter, who remembers being forced to wear her school uniform as a 14-year-old so she could be spotted in the crowd when her father took her to the 1962 final against Spurs. She hated wearing the uniform - and Burnley lost.

:: Elvis impersonator Kenneth Richardson, 65, wore his stage outfit to watch his non league team Gateshead lose at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion this year.

"I was easily spotted and made welcome by WBA fans," he said.

Aaqil Ahmed, head of commissioning, religion, TV and head of religion & ethics at the BBC, said: "We've had a great response to the competition which has really sparked the interest of those who have a passion for football.

"We wanted to make the competition open to anyone to apply hence why no singing experience was necessary. The concept was to involve the whole football family and to find the emotional and personal connection between football and singing.

"It truly is a once in a life-time opportunity to perform at the FA Cup Final and for two members of the choir, whose clubs will be playing in the final, it's the stuff dreams are made of."

Some of the fans are singers, including Middlesbrough follower Mike McGrother, lead vocalist with a band called the Wildcats Of Kilkenny, and Evertonian Andrew Carter who was in a band called The Toffee Rappers.

Mervyn Griffiths, 58, will represent Wrexham, from the renowned singing nation of Wales. He saw the team's giant-killing victory over mighty Arsenal in 1992.

Press Association

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