Former Blues ace turns keepy-up king for NHS charities

FORMER SOUTHEND UNITED frontman, Garry Nelson, is brushing up his skills to raise valuable funds for the NHS.

Nelson, who made his Football League debut and subsequently 129 appearances for the Roots Hall club between 1979 and 1983, has challenged himself to reach 100 keepy-ups while sitting down, a talent he used to perform during training back in his playing days.

After leaving Southend, Braintree-born player went on to enjoy a notable career with Swindon Town, Plymouth Argyle, Brighton & Hove Albion Charlton Athletic and Torquay United. After calling time on professional football, Nelson wrote two memoirs about his life in the game, titled ‘Left Foot Forward’ and ‘Left Foot in the Grave’.

Back to the present and the one-time Blues man admitted initially he was looking for something to pass the time during the lockdown: “It started off with me trying to do a toilet roll challenge,” the 59-year-old told

“One of the lads in my football team who’s an ex-pro too posted that he’d done 22. I was trying to do that and I’ve got to 24 but not on camera. I melt whenever I go on camera! I just got frustrated with it.”

But Nelson is determined to use his rediscovered talent positively, by raising much-needed funds for NHS charities along with support staff and volunteers currently caring for patients with coronavirus.

“I thought that after a few days practice, I could reach one hundred and I’ll stick a £100 donation on for the NHS and if anyone wants to help me donate another £100 then I’ll do it. It was just a silly little thing at the start, and it’s all of a sudden taken a life of its own.

“My CEO then caught wind and put it on his LinkedIn and then there was an email stuck around work and then it went through Twitter and WhatsApp and more and more people are now asking how they can donate.

“I’ve collected so many donations from people who I don’t even know. There’s so much generosity out there for something that was initially only for me to do to occupy the day and give my body a workout! It’s taken it’s toll too because my coccyx are sore now and the pressure’s building.”

Nelson added: “The most important thing is that people have really gotten on board and supported it which is lovely and to think that in just over a day of fundraising I’ve got over £1,300. By the time I’ve stuck in £100, I’ll hope that I’ll have cracked the £1,500 mark easily.

“In some small way, it’s just me seeing if there’s anything I can do to help them. If it can help buy a few masks or test kits then it’s my little way of saying thank you and doing something to feel positive about.”

Fan’s can donate to Garry’s cause by visiting his JustGiving page here:


Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]