A goalkeeping course which was launched in memory of a legendary shot-stopper has been hailed a huge success.
Gordon Saunders, from Alnwick, kicked off the sessions in September, with the aim of teaching and developing youngsters’ skills between the sticks.
The 30-year-old was inspired to launch the classes following the death of former Port Vale goalie Ray King, 89, in the summer.
Inspirational King, who was Northumberland born and bred, taught Saunders the art of goalkeeping nearly two decades ago.
To give something back to his former mentor, Saunders decided to start the 10-week football course at Longhoughton’s Westfield Park.
The final whistle has now blown on the first block of sessions and he believes the inaugural term has been a fitting legacy to King.
He said: “The Gordon Saunders Goalkeeping classes were very successful.
“We had around 17 goalkeppers attend, aged from eight to 14, and from around the area, including Alnwick, Amble, Seahouses, Shilbottle and Longhoughton.”
The course put the goalkeepers through their paces, teaching skills such as catching, kicking, decision-making and movement off the line.
Saunders added: “I tried to put my own personal touch on the sessions, but told the children about things that Ray had taught me.
“There has been some really good feedback and parents, coaches and myself have been impressed with the youngsters’ development over the 10 weeks.
“They were like little professional goalkeepers and I have been told that they have been winning man-of-the-match awards and saving penalties in games for their clubs.”
The keepers received a trophy and thank-you card for their efforts.
Saunders is planning to start another course in Easter and is hoping to build on the success on the inaugural classes. He works at Alnwick Vauxhall dealer Tustain Motors and received funding from Vauxhall for the scheme.
He is looking for other sponsorship to purchase more equipment for the course.