UNLIKE life allegedly, few football careers begin at 40. But former York City favourite Steve Tutill believes that should prove no barrier for anybody wanting to enjoy playing the beautiful game in middle age.

Tutill, now 43 himself, is overseeing the new City Masters programme, run by the football club’s community team.

And, while Sir Alex Ferguson is not expected to peruse the York Sports Village on the look-out for that same all-important experience and mature talent he sees in golden oldie Ryan Giggs, the one-hour Wednesday night sessions will provide a fun means of keeping fit and socialising with other like-minded individuals on a weekly basis.

A pilot session, held this week on 3G pitches that provide a forgiving surface for any limbs that might ache and creak a little more than they used to, was popularly attended.

That will now be followed by a nine-week course, staged between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday nights, costing £30, with the intention to introduce a Masters League for over-40 footballers in York.

Tutill, who played in both legs of the Minstermen’s famous 1995 League Cup final victory over Manchester United, will be in attendance on as many evenings as possible to work alongside City’s qualified FA coaches.

Places on the programme can still be reserved by emailing catriona.sudlow@yorkgov.uk or by phoning Catriona on 01904 553377 and York-born Tutill, whose 366 appearances for the Minstermen places him 11th in the club’s all-time list of longest servants, is enthusiastic about the City Masters initiative’s benefits, saying: “I jumped at the chance to get involved with the scheme.

“I like to be involved with things happening in and around the club, even though it does not happen as often as I would like. This idea interests me because keeping fit is a good thing for people aged 40-plus and not everybody wants to go to the gym at that age.

“With football, you do a lot of running around without even thinking about it and, before you know it, you’ve done half-an-hour’s exercise. Not everybody wants to sit on an exercise bike or run on a treadmill.

“The intention is also to make the sessions as fun as possible, even though they will be run by qualified coaches.

“It’s all about socialising with other people. I work in PE so there will be a few ideas I will be looking to bring along.”

Tutill is a PE instructor for the Prison Service working with young offenders in Wetherby and he has also delivered alcohol and drug awareness classes in North Yorkshire schools and at York College.

Up until three years ago, he was still playing small-sided games at Clifton Moor’s Play Football venue but a partial prolapse of his disc has limited him now to occasional run-outs for the prison’s reserve team.

For a man who once played at Wembley for the Minstermen and was capped eight times for his country at England schoolboy level, it proves his desire for the game still burns strongly and he believes the introduction of an Over-40s League in York would be a great idea.

“I would love to see that happen,” Tutill admitted. “That would be excellent because it does not mean you have to stop being competitive when you turn 40 – most people still have that streak.”

Should the league become a reality, do not be surprised if several familiar faces are tempted into donning the boots again too. “I’m still in touch with the likes of Ray Warburton, Wayne Hall and Gary Himsworth and I’m going to try and get them along to one of the City Masters sessions if I can,” Tutill added.

At 35, Richard Cresswell might presently be ineligible for any City Masters’ dream team but his former Bootham Crescent team-mate Tutill believes manager Nigel Worthington’s decision to bring the Bridlington-born forward back to North Yorkshire last month was an inspired decision.

Cresswell has been a key figure during City’s fight against relegation and Tutill reckons the ex-England under-21 international provides the embodiment of what can be achieved if you look after your body correctly.

“I think bringing him back was a great signing,” Tutill said on Cresswell’s loan switch from Sheffield United. “He’s somebody with a lot of passion for the club and the game.

“He’s coming up to 36 but he’s still a brilliant athlete who will run all day. He’s strong, holds the ball up, gives 100 per cent and can get you goals.

“After he came through at York, it was no surprise when he moved on and did well for himself. He always gave everything in training. I remember him coming back from the summer that season fitter than anybody I had ever seen.

“He had worked hard on his fitness and he is still just as lean and keen so could go on for another two or three seasons. When you know your fitness is spot on, you don’t have to worry about that and it’s just about getting your game right then. He’s been at good clubs who demand good habits but he already had them.”