Keep playing the beautiful game with Mature Millers

If you’ve still got the game in you, age doesn’t have to be a barrier.

The Mature Millers walking football club is there to help you play the game you love for longer.

Whether it’s been years since you hung up your boots or football was never your sport in your prime, walking football is a great way to get back into football for over 55s.

Mature Millers was started ten years ago by a group of like-minded Rotherham United supporters who wanted to remain active in older age. They were initially supported by Rotherham United Community Trust who helped with funding encourage physical activity in older people who had given up sport due to age, injury or circumstance.

Over the last decade, membership has continued to increase and the club is now generally independent.

Players range in age from 55 to 80-plus. The odd few have never played before, but most played in a five or 11-a-side team at amateur level when younger.

One of the original players still involved is 77-year-old Tommy Charlton, the younger brother of Jack and Sir Bobby, who now lives in Rotherham.

The Mature Millers meet twice a week at Rotherham Football Centre in Eastwood to play a slower, low contact version of football. There’s no running allowed – with or without the ball – but players still get quite a sweat on. And they can certainly still pelt the ball!

“Some go hell for leather and think they’re still 18. But it takes longer for us to recover at our age,” says 76-year-old Nigel Hammerton.

Ex-fireman Nigel has been part of Mature Millers for the last five years after seeing an advert in the paper. He plays in the net, resurrecting his goalkeeping days from his time in the army. Over the last few years, Nigel has been having treatment for prostate cancer and has found that walking football has helped him to keep going.

“With treatment and the delays I faced, I was really down. But if I felt alright, I went down to play football. I had to really push myself to go but it brought me round a lot.”

Many of the Mature Millers players have faced their own health issues; one player has dementia and his doctor has recommended he keep playing as it’s helping his prognosis.

Playing walking football has a range of health benefits for older people. It’s a fantastic way to keep fit, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, while improving blood pressure and mobility.

With less stress on the body and no real sudden change of direction or cutting movements, the game allows participants to play without apprehension and at their own pace. It’s usually five or six-a-side with rolling substitutions, so players can participate for as long as they feel able to.

There is also the social factor. After, the 90-minute game, the players stop in the football centre’s café for a cuppa and a chin wag.

“We love the camaraderie here, the enjoyment we get from being part of a team again. It’s good for your fitness but also keeps your mind going. We have a coffee after and put the world to rights, talking about matches we’ve seen, or what we think to rules and VAR,” says another original member, Roy Levitt.

At almost 82, Roy is one of the Mature Millers’ oldest players. He was refereeing a recent game against Chesterfield walking football club, having been a Sheffield and Hallamshire referee since he was 25.

Mature Millers and Chesterfield Walking FC 2014 v 2024

The Chesterfield match was organised to celebrate ten years of the club, and ten years since the teams first played each other in February 2014. Mature Millers were playing in a yellow strip, Rotherham United’s away kit from last season that was recently given to them. They certainly looked the part.

But most of the time, players wear anything they feel comfortable in. Jogging bottoms or shorts and a t-shirt is fine, with just a pair of trainers. The indoor pitches are astro turf so no need for studded or bladed boots.

Mature Millers play every Monday and Wednesday 12pm-1.30pm at Rotherham Football Centre, Eastwood Trading Estate, Rotherham S65 1SU. Sessions cost £4. If you are interested in joining, please call 01709 252 300.