A top flight football team has donated replica kit to a Royal Navy warship’s football team for them to play matches in the heat of the Gulf.
Sailors from the Mine Counter Measures Vessel (MCMV) HMS Atherstone received the kit from Leicester City Football Club – the closest Premier League team to their affiliated town of Atherstone, in Warwickshire.
Club bosses agreed the request and sent out a full team’s kit to Bahrain, home of the UK Maritime Component Command, where HMS Atherstone operates from.
Able Seamen Tapan Patel, a lifelong Leicester City supporter, proposed the idea of approaching Leicester.
“Our old kit was missing shirts and others were old and worn so I thought, what harm could it do to ask a favour from my local club. We contacted Leicester City FC and they responded straight away with a ‘yes’.”
The ship’s football team is called ‘The Flying Foxes’ after the ship’s crest which includes an image of a fox.
They play as often as possible when they get ashore between minehunting operations.
AB Patel added:
“The lads are extremely grateful and proud to receive the new kit and there is only one person onboard who is slightly hesitant when putting ‘The Foxes’ shirt on – the Marine Engineering Officer, Scott Johnson, a lifelong Nottingham Forest Fan!“Hopefully the ship’s football team can now replicate Claudio Ranieri’s managerial success and Leicester City’s performance on the pitch this season.”
After three and a half years away, HMS Atherstone is shortly due to leave the Gulf region to start her 6,700-mile journey home to the UK.