Dave Snell, 31, has lived and worked in Bournemouth all his life. A keen gambler, Snell entered a competition run by Betfair, where the top three people to gain the most votes from the public would get the chance to represent Manchester United in a half time penalty challenge against Barcelona.
For Snell, though, it wasn’t just the chance to take a penalty at the home of his favourite club that motivated him. The competition also represented a great chance to promote and raise money for a charity Snell holds close to his heart; Eve Appeal.
Eve Appeal is a charity that raises money and awareness to fight gynaecology cancer. Gynaecological cancers have a very high mortality rate and mainly affect women over who are in their 50s or over. For Snell though, the reason to promote the Eve Appeal was a personal one.
He says, “One of my mother’s childhood friends was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She is only in her early 50’s and has just gone through her second stage of chemotherapy. She is a great inspiration with the strength and good humour she has shown throughout. I thought it would be refreshing for a young guy to help in some way, getting some good coming out of this great opportunity I have.”
So far, Snell has managed to raise and donate over £1000 for the Eve Appeal. His promotion at Bournemouth University, especially, helped him get the votes he needed to finish in the top three. Snell said, “I estimate I told 6-700 students/lecturers in depth about what the Eve Appeal does during my two days at uni.
I set up an impromptu stall for 4-5 hours on two different days and invited students to come over and listen to details of the Eve Appeal & the penalty event. I was overwhelmed by the response actually. They were so behind it all, although I must say; my idea to give out free chocolates may have been the deciding factor for some!”
By winning the Betfair competition, Snell got the chance to train at Man United’s Carrington training ground, where he was given the full Man United kit complete with his name on the back of the shirt. The training involved professional coaching from Man United legends Dennis Irwin and Andrew Cole. This was particularly exciting for Snell as Andrew Cole was his favourite player as a youngster. Snell adds, “They were really friendly, helped calm our nerves and gave us specific penalty training. The funniest thing I heard on the day was Cole’s advice on penalties; ‘Don’t take them!’ Tomasz Kuszczak also gave us advice about penalties from a goalkeeping perspective.”
During the penalty training, Snell re-enacted a famous goal celebration with Andrew Cole, “I did the Euro 96 Gazza dentist chair celebration with him, which was one of the best things I’ve ever done! He almost drowned me!”
Not only did Snell get to take a penalty at half time in front of 76,000 fans, but he also received VIP hospitality at the Man United vs Arsenal game. As part of the competition, Snell and two other Man United fans are competing against three Barcelona fans. Snell also gets to take a penalty at the Nou Camp in January for the second leg of the competition in front of a capacity crowd of 100,000 people.
So, did Snell manage to score the penalty? On a night when Wayne Rooney skied a penalty hideously over the bar, Snell buried his penalty into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. It was a moment Snell cherished, “I was really nervous beforehand, but amazingly when I ran out onto the pitch I wasn’t scared at all! I soaked up every second I was on the pitch, like it was an hour, and really savoured it.”
Snell’s successful penalty, along with the other two Man United fans scoring, means Snell travelled to the Nou Camp for the second leg with his team 3-1 up, after two of the Barcelona fans missed their spot-kick. Snell enjoyed the moment so much he wasn’t too worried about how the penalty will go at the Nou Camp, adding “I don’t even mind if I miss in Barcelona now that I have scored at Old Trafford.”
I asked Snell if he had any pre penalty rituals he performed and he said: “One deep breath. 4-5 step run up. Make your mind up where you want to take the penalty before you step up and make sure you strike through the ball and don’t hold back.”
And he duly delivered, and maybe Wayne Rooney could even learn a thing or two by adopting the same technique.
By Chris Brown
Anyone interested in donating money to the Eve Appeal, please follow the link: http://www.justgiving.com/davesnell/
Check out Snell converting his Old Trafford penalty here.