ST HELENS Town AFC head over to Germany this week to play in a friendly as part of activities planned to celebrate two significant milestones.

Town fly out early on Friday for a full weekend programme which includes facing TSV Uhlbach at their Kufsteiner Strasse ground as part of the German side’s 125th birthday festival - and to mark St Helens Borough’s 75th twinning anniversary with the city of Stuttgart, believed to be the oldest of its kind in Europe.

The last time St Helens Town AFC and TSV Uhlbach met at Ruskin Drive in 2018 for St Helens and Stuttgart’s 70th twinning anniversary ended in a thrilling 4-4 draw, with some quality football played between the two sides.

St Helens' relationship with Stuttgart dates back to 1948, just a few years after World War II.

As a leading manufacturer of glass at the time, St Helens was able to support the rebuilding of Stuttgart, parts of which had been destroyed or damaged by bombing during the war.

Ever since, the two have enjoyed regular twinning trips, with delegates from Stuttgart visiting earlier in the year and due back again in a few weeks, with representatives from St Helens having recently got back from Stuttgart.

Before heading over to Stuttgart, players and staff from St Helens Town AFC were invited to St Helens Town Hall where they were welcomed by the Mayor of St Helens Borough Council, Councillor Lynn Clarke; Council Leader, David Baines; and Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage.

Councillor Burns said: “Football and sport in general has always been a powerful way of bringing people from different nationalities together, so I’m delighted to see the return of this fixture which is very much the definition of a friendly as it strengthens relations and creates friendships.

“As a club, St Helens AFC is a fantastic ambassador for our borough.

"The work they do in our communities - including recently during Refugee Week - is outstanding and I’d like to wish them the best of luck as they head over to Germany to fly the flag for St Helens Borough – which I know they will do impeccably.

“We’re proud of our twinning partnership with Stuttgart. It’s a productive way of fostering long-term friendships, opening opportunities to share ideas and good practice, and of course to celebrate what makes each of us unique.

"We’re very much looking forward to hosting representatives here again in a few weeks.”

Mike Bagshaw, Community Officer at St Helens AFC said: “It's been an honour for the club to be invited to the town hall to meet the mayor and council leaders.

"It's a big occasion for our old club as we head to Germany for our first ever match in mainland Europe against our friends TSV Uhlbach.

"It's such an historic twinning and at the time must have been a great step in improving relationships between our two nations. St Helens Town would also play a huge role in Anglo Germanic relations when they signed released POW Bert Trautmann.

"Bert's story and long career with Manchester City was like something straight out of the pages of Roy of the Rovers.

“Our friendship with TSV is very important to us. The last game was a lively 4-4 draw and they were a pleasure to host.

"We agreed at the time that we would return the visit - Covid delayed that but has accidentally made it an even bigger deal as it’s now 75 years since St Helens twinned with Stuttgart and this weekend is TSV’s 125th birthday festival so it’s worked out perfectly.

"It will be an honour for us to help them celebrate it. Football is international, and so are we.”

St Helens Town AFC will play TSV Uhlbach on Saturday at 5:30pm local time.