United defenders Danny Grainger and Tom Parkes were given first-hand experience of a penalty shoot-out from a goalkeeper’s point of view when a newly formed football team at the James Rennie School here in Carlisle invited them along to their training session.
The pair were handed the gloves as the boys lined up to take their penalties, and the quality of the finishes left both professional players flapping at thin air as the goals rained in.
Goal celebration followed goal celebration – with the dab and the floss particular favourites – with the makeshift keepers increasingly frustrated as the ball flew past their despairing dives.
Captain Danny Grainger said: “That was a really enjoyable session. The lads were so excited to see us and I haven’t smiled that much for a long time.
“Fair play to all of them for the quality of the penalties. They were sending us the wrong way and all sorts.
"I saved a couple but most of them were past me before I’d even realised they'd been taken. I think I’ll stick to taking them myself in future and leave the other side of it to Adam [Collin] and Louis [Gray].”
“The reaction when we walked into the sports hall was amazing,” Tom Parkes added. “The lads started waving at us and you could tell they couldn’t wait to get going.
“They were all Carlisle fans and that made it even better. I had a go at the floss with one of the boys, which didn’t go too well if I'm being honest, but then I remembered that I was celebrating the fact that he’d just scored against me!”
Community Sports Trust coach Georgia Smethurst said: “We run our sessions at James Rennie every week and the youngsters really look forward to it.
“They were over the moon when Danny and Tom came in and I know that visits like this mean a lot to the school and to the children.
“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we now know that if the team goes to a penalty shoot-out they’ll be more than ready to take it on.”
Thank you to the staff and, most importantly, the players for including us in such a fantastic session.
Click HERE for more information on James Rennie School.