‘It really is every kid’s dream’ – MAN v FAT winners face off at Millwall as two English legends pop by

Peter Fitzpatrick
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Players celebrate at the National MAN v FAT XIs final
Players celebrate at the National MAN v FAT XIs final

It isn’t every day that you get to play at a professional football stadium – but that’s what nearly 100 MAN v FAT Football players got to do at The Den, Millwall’s iconic ground, in mid-May.

MAN v FAT is a simple, proven weight-loss programme that helps men of all ages shed the pounds in a healthy and enjoyable way – by playing football, if you hadn’t guessed by this point!

It is a brilliant and admirable concept but one that is very straightforward at the same time. Players join teams of like-minded individuals looking to lose weight by playing weekly games, all of which are officiated by qualified referees.

Anyone can join, and it doesn’t need to be part of a group – you can join alone. This helps with the under-discussed issue of men creating and maintaining friendly relationships, too.

In addition, having a peer support network like with MAN v FAT is proven to be beneficial when losing weight. You don’t have to come as a group and can join alone. This helps with the difficulty of men creating and maintaining friendly relationships, too.

Simply put, there is no better way of getting fit and healthy while making some great friends at the same time. And MAN v FAT are offering Football365 readers a discount on new memberships – simply add the promo code ‘F365’ to see the cost reduced from £9.99 to £3.65.

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👉 Everything you need to know about MAN v FAT, the unique way for men to lose weight

As for the day itself, it kicked off with the National MAN v FAT XIs final between last season’s winners, Preston, and Walsall. Despite it being a closely fought game in most parts, the holders eventually ran out 4-0 winners to retain their title.

Then it was onto the Amazing Losers Match, which featured over 30 players who had lost a staggering 30% or more of their body weight with MAN v FAT.

Just think about that for a second, it is just beyond impressive and something that everyone involved should be incredibly proud of.

As well as lining out at The Den, the players got the chance to be managed by two certified legends of English football, Terry Butcher and Paul Parker (team-mates at Italia 90, which made the whole thing even cooler).

Paul Parker managing at MAN v FAT

Butcher also revealed that his son had previously worked with the programme, and it had been hugely beneficial for him, which made his presence all the more fitting.

Despite Terry’s vocal man-management on the touchline, his side, ‘Butcher’s Ballers’ were beaten 5-0 by Park’s Sparks in a game that was more tiki-taka than route one and played at a quicker pace than this writer could have handled for 90 minutes.

The result was secondary, though, as everyone (including family in the stands) enjoyed a brilliant day, basking in both the London sunshine and the acknowledgement of their incredible personal achievements in the last 12 months.

During the game, players from both teams gave us some of their thoughts on the day and their weight-loss journey with MAN v FAT and there were unsurprisingly several recurring themes.

Damian Hones, from just outside Wrexham and enjoying his first trip to London, spoke about the “community and friendliness of everyone involved” that has helped him lose an unbelievable 65kg since joining the programme back in July 2022.

His team-mate on Butcher’s Ballers, Andy Seapey echoed those sentiments and added that the “motivation that it’s just not for yourself and the encouragement from your team” has been a massive factor in his 37kg/33% body weight loss in his two years with MAN v FAT.

Players battle for the ball at MAN v FAT

The Norwich native also said that it’s led to him doing other exercises, with park runs now being a feature of his fitness and health journey.

On the overall buzz of playing at a Championship stadium, Park’s Sparks’ Marcuss Rigg, from Cornwall, who has lost 60kg with the programme (and 70kg overall) said: “It’s been fun and surreal playing here, it really is every kid’s dream isn’t it?” and that “the level of fitness isn’t something you expect to be honest; it’s been end to end with chances for both sides.”

The brains of both Parker and Butcher were also picked on several subjects, notably two of their former clubs, Manchester United and Ipswich Town respectively, who have enjoyed very contrasting seasons, and England’s hopes at EURO 2024.

A two-time Premier League winner with United in the early 1990s, Parker said that while it’s been a poor season full of “bad results and bad performances”, he would sitck with Erik ten Hag for next season.

“I’m still a (ten Hag) In person at the moment. It might not make sense to a lot of people, but what he achieved in his first season should matter in any decision.”

He instead pointed out the “bad eggs” in the squad that need to be moved on in the summer as Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS get about repairing the fortunes of the Old Trafford club.

Parker also added that he “can’t wait for next season and a new beginning (at the club),” with not much hope given for a happy ending to this one in the FA Cup final against the Manchester City “machine.”

Butcher, who was an FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner during Ipswich’s heyday under Sir Bobby Robson in the 1970s and early 1980s, was more enthusiastic about his former club unsurprisingly given their remarkable back-to-back promotion.

“I have seen a lot of games this season, both home and away, and the way they play is just incredible. They play a system that makes them very difficult to break down, but they also attack so quickly.”

“It’s less counter-attacking, but the way they play through the lines and with so much width means they tear teams apart. I think they will keep trying to do the same thing in the Premier League.”

When asked if he would take 17th place right now, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation in saying yes, which no doubt is the consensus view among the Tractor Boys faithful.

Having represented England on 77 occasions, most notably in the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990, few are better placed to speak on their chances this summer at the European Championships, and Butcher is confident.

“I fancy England to do well, they have been to the latter stages of tournaments. They haven’t done what they set out to do so it is on them to do that but the failures of before could be valuable experience this time around.”

“Bellingham could easily be the player of the tournament and I would play Trent Alexander-Arnold beside Declan Rice behind him.”

Start your MAN v FAT journey today

There is no better time to start your MAN v FAT journey than right now.

If you want to turn your life around just like these guys have, it’s incredibly easy to sign up.

All you have to do is find your local club and start playing! With the fun of football and the support of the friends you’ll make, you can achieve anything.

MAN v FAT are offering Football365 readers a discount on new memberships – simply add the promo code ‘F365’ to see the cost reduced from £9.99 to £3.65.