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Meet the former Manchester City star performing in Altrincham this Christmas as part of Rat Pack tribute show

A former Manchester City footballer is performing in Bowdon this Christmas – but with microphone in hand rather than boots on his feet.

A former Manchester City footballer is performing in Bowdon this Christmas – but with microphone in hand rather than boots on his feet.

Jim Whitley spent over a decade at City in the 90s, playing 38 times for the first team and winning three caps for Northern Ireland.

But after retiring in 2006 having spent a few seasons at Wrexham, Whitley – whose brother Jeff also played for City – turned his hand to showbusiness and is starring as Sammy Davis Jr in Rat Pack tribute show Swingin’ At The Sands.

And with legendary crooners ‘Frank Sinatra’ and ‘Dean Martin’, the trio will perform at The Cinnamon Club on December 7th and 8th.

Then and now: Whitley returned to his childhood passion of singing after finishing his football career

Whitley, now 43, played for the Manchester City youth squad from 1990-93 and then the senior team until 2001, and was named Young Player of the Year in 1998.

He said: “I started singing at a church choir. I had to put music to one side when I was 14 or 15 because I was playing more and more football.

“Being able to read music has given me a bit of grounding but I couldn’t foresee me doing this sort of thing. I used to hate getting up and doing solos but it’s something that has stayed with me and I thoroughly enjoy it now, it’s great.”

Jim Whitley battling against David Beckham in his playing days

In his early 30s, Whitley started listening to more swing music and when an opportunity arose, he didn’t hold back from showing off his talent.

He recalled how a girl had written a song about Wrexham and asked the players to join in to help sing the chorus.

In the recording studio, the sound manager noticed Whitley’s talent and invited him for a test spot at a theatre, which followed on to a trip to London.

Whitley was then partnered up with two West End singers, Tom Fox (who plays Sinatra) and Mark Halliday (Dean Martin) and the trio have been performing at theatres over the country for the last four years.

Jim Whitley as Sammy Davis Jr with ‘Frank Sinatra’ and ‘Dean Martin’

He added: “The original Rat Pack were phenomenal. It would have been great to grace the stage with the real Frank, Dean and Sammy.

“My favourite song would have to be Mr Bojangles. Whenever we do a meet and greet after, people always come up to me and say what a lovely song it is. It just seems to touch a lot of people.”

On Friday December 7th, the Rat Pack’s Christmas Party show will include a two-course meal and will provide the perfect venue for office parties and other Christmas celebrations.

Whitley in action as Sammy Davis Jnr

And on Saturday December 8th, audiences will be treated to an evening of pure music guaranteed to bring the style, panache and charisma of the Rat Pack back to life.

Tickets for Rat Pack – Swingin’ at The Sands Christmas Party on Friday 7th December cost £42.90 and include a two-course meal on tables from eight to 12 people (individual tickets can also be purchased). Buy the tickets here.

Tickets for Rat Pack – Swingin’ at The Sands The Kings of Cool on Saturday 8th December cost £27.50 and can be bought here.