WHEN your predecessors have shed 40 stone between them and won an international football tournament, you would be forgiven for feeling a little under pressure.

The bar for a new group of football fans trying to lose weight has been set especially high after the first edition of Swindon Town’s Football Fans in Training (FFIT) initiative.

The 30 men, aged between 36 and 65, have all been brought together by Swindon Borough Council and Swindon Town Football in the Community Trust to kick their unhealthy lifestyles into touch.

The first group which took part in FFIT earlier this year underlined their weight loss with a tournament win in Scotland against a variety of other teams with similar initiatives across the UK.

Andy Warpole, 45, a transport company manager of Shrivenham Road, is one of those who has taken on the mantle and has his targets set on surpassing the original group.

The Town season ticket-holder was convinced to join up with the 12-week training programme, which started last month, by fellow fan Danny Rogers, who was in the first tranche.

“It’s the fact it’s straightforward, simple, but it keeps you committed through the team spirit,” said Andy.

“I have gone on diets before and given up after a few weeks, but I feel motivated and keen to do this.

“It’s 30 guys together, all supporting each other and because it’s connected to the football club, you don’t want to feel like you’re letting the club down.”

Andy said he has spent much of his adult life around the 18-stone mark, in a routine beset by long working hours and one bottle of wine ever evening.

After discovering his former boss and former Swindon Town goalkeeper Bob Hocking had suffered a major stroke in retirement, he felt it was time for a change.

“I said to myself: ‘I have got to change things. I can’t carry on,’” he said.

“That (Bob’s stroke) was through drinking and smoking. I didn’t want to get to retirement and think this is it, I’m limited to what I can do.”

The father of two 17-year-old twin girls has already knocked around a stone from his weight in just six weekly sessions with his peers and the coaches.

“When I first went, I found it quite intimidating because you are walking into a room full of people you don’t know,” he said.

“They very quickly put you at ease though. You’re here because you want to be here and there’s no-one judging you.

“It snowballed from there. You just feel so motivated, I can’t explain it.

“I feel amazing. There are different clothes fitting me now that aren’t pinching. There are people commenting on the weight I have lost.

“Everything just seems to have fit into place for me.”

If you’re a football fan carrying extra pounds and want to find out more or sign up for the next intake in the New Year, contact Jon Holloway by emailing: jon@stfc-fitc.co.uk or calling: 01793 421303.