A FOOTBALL team with a great 'heart' are planning to be very busy again when Government and FA coronavirus regulations allow them to be.

Heart Warriors, a charity team formerly known as All Blacks, are eager to be back raising funds for a cause dear to their hearts, Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

They took to the hills in a different money-spinning tact during the summer, while they have also recently kept their engines ticking over with a friendly match against Supporting Charities Football Club from Bradford in the hope of soon being able to stage matches with fans again.

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All pictures by Karl Brooks Photography

For now, the community-spirited footballers are pleased with the backing they received for the challenge to climb 950-metre high Helvellyn in the Lake District last month.

"We were looking at other ways to raise much needed money for the charity," said spokesman Marc Stanley.

"The recent game was just a friendly as it was the first one back so didn’t raise any funds, but that was the purpose of the Helvellyn walk as we aren’t able to accommodate or advertise for spectators currently at games.

"We completed the walk in just under five hours and have now collected and counted all donations to a total of £1,517 for Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey.

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"We are currently planning in a roster of matches once again and will be looking to rearrange the postponed fixtures versus a Hollyoaks XI and Emmerdale XI respectively when we are allowed to host spectators again, as well as a race night later on in the year and potential sportsman’s dinner when restrictions begin to be lifted.

"Next year we will be looking to complete the Three Peaks challenge and organise a footgolf tournament to really push for funds for Ronald McDonald House."

Celebrities in attendance at the recent friendly were comedian Tiny Tim and actor David Kennedy from Hollyoaks, while Emmerdale's Jay Kontzle was on the pitch along with SAS Who Dare Wins contestant and Dream Boy member Richie Allen as well as singer Ash Stevenson.

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Warriors, whose players are based in this area, have played matches in Northwich, Middlewich and Winsford as well as nationwide against other charity teams.

The bulk of the squad is made up of friends who used to play together in a six-a-side league at Sir John Deane’s College around 10 years ago.

One of their founding members benefited from Ronald McDonald House's provision of free accommodation and support when his son was born with a rare heart defect.

While the purpose is to raise funds, there is a competitive edge to the matches they play.

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"They are taken fairly seriously and inevitably the aim is always to try and come away with a result as well as raising money," said Marc.

"However, we focus more on inclusivity as a club than player ability and have players of all abilities and fitness levels involved currently with the main aim of raising money for the charity and having fun during the process with all members getting involved across the board with events and fundraising efforts.

"We are very family-orientated as a lot of the players have children and we tend to see a lot of these families in attendance at most of our games, integrating with each other for a real feel-good, social environment."

He added: "The players have been looking after their own fitness during lockdown so upon return to action it has been a real mixed bag!

"We are looking to schedule in training sessions a few times a month around people’s schedules as a lot of the players play for local football teams in the area. A lot of the squad would normally play in a leisure match once a week also."