Sam Aiston books old Shrewsbury Town pals for school fundraiser match
Sam Aiston is ready to roll back the years with some blue and amber favourites to raise much-needed funds for schoolchildren.
Broseley Church of England Primary School – where Aiston has been headteacher for 18 months – launched their five-day Literary Festival this week in a bid to encourage youngsters to pick up a book.
The week consists of various literary activities for all age groups at the school, including special guest authors and broadcasters passing advice on to pupils.
Aiston explains that the ‘ambition’ plan, in its inaugural year, was the brainchild of the school’s English co-ordinator as a way to bring together not just the town of Broseley but Shropshire families further afield.
And the former winger, who made 191 appearances for Town between 2001 and 2005 and settled in the area with his Shrewsbury-born wife Hollie, has called in a few old friends to help boost the attendance as the curtain closes on the festival with a party at 4.30pm after school on Friday at the Dark Lane site.
Aiston will line-up against Dean Spink, Steve Jagielka, Gavin Cowan, Jody Banim and Andy Holt as a gloried six-a-side team faces off against parents. The opportunity is a unique one for Town fans to watch Shrewsbury players of a bygone era strut their stuff.
‘Sir’ Mickey Brown will be in attendance – but only from the sidelines as he recovers from an injury.
“We’re just trying to raise some money for the school. No schools have got any money at the moment, including us, we’re trying to do as much as we can,” said Aiston, who was previously deputy head at Pontesbury Church of England Primary School. “My English co-ordinator suggested we do a big festival, a week-long thing of activities and finish with this massive party.
“I thought a way to get people to come would be roping in the old football lads.
“Hopefully Town fans and other football fans will come along. It’s a way of raising the profile of the school as well.
“I’ve got a few lads coming. Some are saying they are and then pulling out. But definites are Dean Spink – he’s not going to be in best of nick or anything!
“Anybody can come along. It’ll be five or six-a-side, playing against the local dads. We normally do a staff versus parents match and we get beat. I don’t want to blame my team-mates but I’m usually playing by myself!”
Allcomers to Friday’s party will be entertained with live music, street food, games, an obstacle course, bouncy castle and other stalls.
Aiston is in the process of trying to encourage another former team-mate, Shrewsbury’s Dave Edwards, along in a coaching capacity.
“I’ve mentioned it to Dave. I’d like him to come along but I understand people are busy!” he added.
Aiston, who was born in Sunderland and made two Premier League appearances for the Black Cats, believes sports-themed literary events will encourage young boys to get reading.
“We’ve got Stuart Dunn (BBC Shropshire) coming in to do a bit of football commentary and sports journalism for some writing with the kids,” added Aiston.
“We have various authors coming in. The author of Dirty Bertie, Alan MacDonald, is coming in for an assembly
Aiston, who has three children – Madeleine, Hugo and Hector – has no doubts who will steal the show in the football.
“I tell you the best player will be – Jody Banim by a mile,” he said. “He was the best five-a-side player I’ve ever seen.
“Unfortunately he’s only four foot six! When it came to 11-a-side he couldn’t get around the pitch!”