THE country’s first adult football match with heading restrictions will take place in County Durham later this month.

The pilot match involving former professionals will take place at Spennymoor Town FC’s Brewery Field ground on Sunday, September 26.

During the first half players will only be able to head the ball in the box and no heading will be allowed in the second half – a breach would be given as a foul.

The game is being organised by brain charity Head for Change, as researchers look at whether the game could be played without heading and reduce the risk of dementia for players, along with the local Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust.

Head for Change was founded by Dr Judith Gates after her husband, former Middlesbrough footballer Bill Gates, was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Bill and Judith Gates met as pupils at Spennymoor Grammar School and he started his playing career with the town’s club.

They still have many connections to the town, including with Moors’ chief executive Brad Groves who used to work in the warehouse of Mr Gates’ sports store business.

The couple’s friend Debra Swinburn is a director at the club and also a trustee of the cancer trust, and pulled the three organisations together to arrange the match.

The Northern Echo:

Dr Gates said: “The area that we are looking for money for is research because we want to look at investigating, not just the causes of the sports-related neurodegenerative disease, but in vivo diagnosis and potentially a cure.

“I’d like to invite everybody along on Sunday the 26th of September - kick off is at 3pm, the gates will be open from 12 noon - if you want to come along and see a unique experiment, if you want to come along and think further on how to protect the players and protect the game, then we welcome you to the Brewery Field.”

The Northern Echo:

Mark Solan founded the Spennymoor-based cancer trust to support people affected by cancer in memory of his mother, grandmother and the relatives of close friends.

Mr Solan said: “We’ve both got genuine reasons for having a charity.

"The difference, obviously, is mine is something that happened to me a long time ago whereas sadly, Bill and Judith are living with it now.”

He said around 25 ex-professionals are lined up for the Trust’s fifth charity match – making it the best line-up they’ve ever had and he said Head for Change has some “massive legends” behind them.

Read more: Mark Solan is a man on a mission

For more information about Head for Change visit


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