Ah, Sunday League football. Where would we be without it?
There’s nothing quite like getting lumps kicked out of you on a muddy, waterlogged pitch when it’s absolutely freezing cold on some nondescript park in Britain.
Many of you reading this will have played Sunday League football at some point in your lives and have the scars to prove it. Some of you will play for teams now and may have been involved in a game this very weekend.
You’ve probably encountered loads of people who claim to have had trials at various professional clubs when they were younger or failed to make the big time because of an injury.
But have you ever played against a former Premier League footballer?
If you’ve played in either the Central Warwickshire Over-35s League or the Birmingham FA’s Veterans Cup this season then there’s a pretty decent chance that you have.
For the rest of you, it seems extremely unlikely. Most former Premier League footballers these days hang up their boots and live the rest of their days off their career earnings.
The Sunday League team with four ex-PL players
But there’s one Sunday League team from the Birmingham area, Monica Star FC, who boast no less than four ex-Premier League footballers who have all played at international level.
Let’s take a closer look at the four players, per the Mirror.
Lee Hendrie (40)
The former Aston Villa midfielder, who earned one senior cap for England in 1998, was tipped for big things when he was younger but never quite managed to fulfil his potential.
Lee Carsley (44)
Capped 40 times by the Republic of Ireland, Lee Carsley is most famous for his six-year spell with Everton.
The defensive midfielder has worked as the assistant manager of the England Under-21 side and Birmingham City in recent years but clearly still loves playing the game.
Paul Devlin (46)
A one-time Scotland international, who earned 10 caps for his country, Paul Devlin became a fan favourite during two spells with Birmingham City.
Darren Byfield (41)
Darren Byfield spent most of his career in the Football League but did start his career with Aston Villa in the top flight.
Played for Jamaica six times in 2003.
Imagine coming up against that lot with your mates on a Sunday morning. You’d be terrified.
They're a pretty formidable team
Unsurprisingly, Monica Star FC are pretty formidable outfit at Sunday League level and are bidding to win the Birmingham FA’s Veterans Cup for the sixth time in seven seasons after reaching the final.
They hammered Coundon Court Old Boys 7-0 in the second round and then thrashed Northfield Town Vets 5-0 in the quarters.
Carsley was the first ex-pro to sign up four seasons ago, thanks to his brother who was friends with members of the squad, and the club’s secretary Paul Volante says the midfielder was surprised by the quality on show.
“Lee thought it would be all beer-bellies. He said he’d help out for the odd match,” he was quoted as saying by the Mirror. “But when he saw the standard, he was there every week. Everyone has played to a decent level.”
However, it’s now three seasons since Monica Star FC won the league and that’s mainly down to Wychall Wanderers, whose team features none other than the former Aston Villa star Stiliyan Petrov.
Sunday League football is where it’s at, people.