Saddlers enter a team in the "Ding Dong Derby Cup"...FORGET El Classico, AC Milan v Inter or even the Old Firm.
The mother of all derbies is set to be contested on Birmingham’s streets – as local clubs bid to get their hands on the inaugural Ding Dong Derby Cup at the Great Birmingham 10k.
All clubs across the region are invited to join Villa, Blues, West Brom, Wolves, Walsall and Coventry in entering teams into the Sunday, May 1 running challenge.
From Premier League outfits at the tip of the footballing pyramid down to Sunday League sides at grassroots level, clubs of all sizes can enter.
Each team must be at least four-a-side, up to a maximum of eight runners, although there is no limit on how many teams each club can enter. Any club that enters 12 or more runners will receive its own personalised engraved plaque in the name of its fastest runner.
The Ding Dong Derby Cup gets its name from the phrase made famous by Free Radio’s Tom Ross in describing local affairs down the years.
Mark Gillett, Albion’s Director of Performance, is captaining a team comprising members of the Baggies’ medical and sports science staff.
“Anyone who plays or is involved in sport tends to be ultra competitive and we’re in it to win it,” declared Mark, who is also chair of the Premier League Doctors’ Group.
“To compete against teams from all over the region, from all levels of the game, at the Great Birmingham 10k should be great fun and will create plenty of banter. We’ll aim to be as competitive as possible. We want to win that cup!”
Wolves and Coventry have stated their intention to deny Albion the silverware.
“We’re delighted to have been asked to take part in the Great Birmingham 10k and look forward to coming up against our counterparts from the other Midlands clubs, and proving again that we are without doubt the fittest backroom staff in the region,” said Phil Hayward, head of Wolves’ medical department who will be part of the Molineux team.
“I’m sure the staff at Villa, Blues, Albion, Walsall and Coventry will also be relishing the challenge. The race will no doubt be viewed to be very important by all clubs as an opportunity to get on a ‘good run’ towards the end of the season.”
Jamie Clapham, first-team coach at Coventry and a former Blues and Wolves defender, said: "I've got full confidence in the team we've put together and we're definitely in it to win it.
"Having experienced a few big derbies myself, I know how important it is to get the edge over your local rivals and it'll be no different in the Great Birmingham 10k. Our running team will be put through a difficult training course ahead of the 10k to make sure Coventry will be lifting the Ding Dong Derby Cup on Sunday, May 1."
The four fastest times posted by each team will be accumulated to determine who is the fittest and fastest club in the region – and secure the ultimate derby bragging rights!
Erdington-based Paget Rangers, of Midland Football League Division Two, are the first non-league club to enter.
West Midlands football legend Cyrille Regis MBE, who played for Albion, Coventry, Villa and Wolves, will present the Ding Dong Derby Cup to the winning team. Cyrille said: “I played for four of the clubs involved and know how competitive they all are. They’ll be desperate to beat their local rivals and get their hands on the Ding Dong Derby cup!
“But this is a chance for the smaller teams in the region to go head to head with the big boys and pip them to the silverware. May the fittest team win. I’ll look forward to presenting them with the trophy.”
Tom Ross, who hosts the Goalzone on Free Radio 80s on Mondays and Fridays from 6pm, said: “Events like the Great Birmingham 10k and the Great Birmingham Run make me even more proud of my city.
“I care passionately about local football and the fact teams from all levels of the game are being invited to come together to compete for a trophy named after one of my catchphrases is, on a personal level, really special.
“There promises to be one hell of a Ding Dong Derby during the Great Birmingham 10k. Let the fittest club win!”
David Hart, Communications Director at The Great Run Company, said: “The region boasts several huge football clubs but also hundreds at non-league level and thousands more at the very grassroots of the game.
“This is a chance for them to come together and compete for silverware on a level playing field, so to speak, at the Great Birmingham 10k. We’ll hopefully see lots of friendly local rivalry and some classic David and Goliath contests.”
Starting at 11am, more than 7,000 people are expected to take part in the Great Birmingham 10k which begins and finishes in the city centre.
Ding Dong Derby Cup signs-ups can be made via the Great Birmingham 10k Business Challenge page. The full club name should be typed in the ‘name of company’ box.
To enter, visit: https://www.greatrun.org/great-birmingham-10k/business-challenge