Ex-Albion star Geoff Horsfield back in training for charity run
A word of warning for regulars along Lichfield's canals: there's a Horse on the loose!
Geoff Horsfield used to run through brick walls for Albion. Now aged 42 'The Horse' is still demolishing walls for a living and is about to get his legs moving again after entering the Great Birmingham 10k.
And he's getting back in shape by training along the towpaths near his Fradley Village home, where he lives with wife Tina and three daughters Chloe, aged 19, Leah, 15, and Lexie-Brooke, six.
The Sunday, May 1 challenge will be a family affair for Horsfield, who returned to the building trade after leaving his coaching role at Port Vale in 2012.
Daughters Chloe and Leah signed up a day after dad and are desperate to beat their old man around the 6.2-mile course.
Horsfield is also hoping the football family will be out in force and has urged fellow former pros to join him on the route, which starts and finishes in Birmingham city centre.
The Barnsley native has dual, polar-opposite reasons for entering.
Horsfield admits he's not as trim as he was when running opposition defences ragged and wants to shed a few pounds to develop 'a bit of a body' for an impending lads' holiday.
But, far more importantly, he is aiming to raise money for the homeless, a cause that has grown close to his heart through his job at Local Housing Management & Support Services.
Horsfield, who was a bricklayer before turning pro in 1998, said: "When I told the family I'd signed up for the 10k, Chloe and Leah insisted on running with me.
"When I got home from work the next day, they'd already gone out running round the estate!
"They've started training before me but I can't let them beat me. Hopefully, we'll run together and I'll leave them for dead in the last 100m!
"I also want to get as many ex-pros as possible running – so I'm not the only one having the mickey taken out of my beer belly! I've already roped in Ian Hamilton, the old Albion player, who I'm good friends with."
Helping the homeless
Horsfield's daily routine nowadays is less bibs and balls and more bricks and buckets and he has no plans to return to football.
He commutes from Lichfield to Birmingham everyday to fulfil his duties as housing manager, which involve providing and maintaining supported accommodation for vulnerable people in Erdington.
"My daughters are passionate about what I do for a living and will be helping me raise money, as they know not everyone's as fortunate as them to be living under their dad's roof," added Horsfield, who is no stranger to adversity, having overcome testicular cancer in 2008 and undergone emergency treatment on blood clots on both lungs almost three years to the day.
"I'm enjoying my job way too much to even contemplate going back into football.
"I know as a coach I could help with the development of young footballers but I feel as though I was born to do what I'm doing now – helping get vulnerable people off the streets, into accommodation and, in time, hopefully back to leading a normal life."
Struggling for fitness
Horsfield was renowned for his all-action displays during his football career in which he made a combined 199 appearances for the Baggies and Birmingham, scoring 44 goals. But he is dreading starting training for the 10k.
"I'm going to Tenerife with the lads, so I'm trying to get a bit of fitness and a bit of a body, which I haven't had for about ten years," quipped Horsfield.
"In fact, I didn't really have one when I played football!
"Because of work, I've slacked on my fitness for the last two years. Apart from playing in a couple of charity games, I've not done much.
"I can't remember the last time I went for a run. I haven't even got any trainers. I had to borrow the ones used in the photo. My fitness is proper shocking!
"I'm nervous about the training but as soon as I get into it, I'll proper get into it. I'm looking forward to the challenge and getting back together with the other players who will hopefully do it.
"We can then have a laugh and a beer afterwards – when I'll hang up my trainers!"
No danger for West Brom
Horsfield still closely follows the fortunes of his former West Midlands clubs and is delighted to see them both enjoying relative success.
"The Albion and Blues fans have always been golden to me and I'd love to see as many of them as possible, plus supporters of the other local clubs, doing the 10k," he added.
"Tony Pulis gets his teams organised and West Brom are always going to be a stable club. They'll be fine this season. They've got too many good players.
"They were classed as a yo-yo club when I was there but it's pleasing to see they're now established in the Premier League.
"As for Blues, it was great to hear they had got Gary Rowett to sign a new contract. He's done a fantastic job. Considering the club's off-the-field issues, he's absolutely over-achieved.
To sign up for the 10K visit: http://www.greatrun.org/great-birmingham-10k
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