Gold, always believe in your soul…….
Weather: Cold and windy and got colder as the long day wore on.
As always Jeannette was on hand to fleece us all for a fiver and also did a great job modelling everybody’s coats to keep herself warm. Thanks also to Ally for coming along as chief photographer and supporter.
Two leagues, Trumpton and Flower Pot Men, six teams in each. Matches: 8 mins each half with a 2 min break. SFs and Finals 10 mins each half. Three touch football was an additional local law for the day.
Teams: (Flower Pot Men): Havant & Waterlooville, Retro, Gosport Civil Service, Tadley Strollers, Emsworth, Dolphins.
Note: Although we were playing as Dolphins on the day, this was a Penguins squad in all but name and Nige (although Nige has played for Penguins also!). No teams that we knew from Worthing in our group, although Chris Pennell was playing for the Aldershot team, Retro. So into the unknown we sallied forth! After nearly an hour’s delay due to a huge traffic snarl up at Littlehampton, play got underway shortly before 1pm.
Squad: Mike G (skipper), Mike A, Mark A, Danny, Nige, Jobe, Rod and Robin
MATCH 1 v Havant and Waterlooville 1-0
H&W were a well organised side and gave as good as they got right through this match. Chances were few and when Danny found Mark A striding through the centre midway through the first half, it was all over. 1-0 to Dolphins. Neither custodian was called into serious action throughout the second half, which aptly displays the nature of this close run affair. Danny was very vocal early on in this match, remonstrating with ref after he had shepherded a ball across the line for a goal kick, whilst the ref gave a corner. This was a portent of what was to come later.
MATCH 2 v Gosport Civil Service 1-2
GCS’s name was a misnomer as they should have been called Gosport UNCivil Service. This team spent the entire 16 minutes running! The ref had a word with me at the end of the first half and warned me about Dolphins running. I replied: “We are only running to keep up with them”. Their first goal came when their lone forward outsprinted the Dolphins defence to slide one past Mike G, before a bizarre incident allowed the Dolphins to equalise. Mark A’s shot was parried back to him and he stooped to conquer by heading the ball home. As the ball was officially below head height the ref allowed the goal to stand (one of many bizarre and inconsistent calls by this ref all day). Still 1-1 was better then 1-0 and we went into the break buoyed up. GCS certainly had luck on their side in the second half as they scored their winner off a ball that rebounded back from a post. Mike A had no such luck when he struck an upright in the dying seconds.
MATCH 3 v Retro 1-1
Retro featured our very own Chris Pennell and like H&W they were well organised and difficult to break down. Chances, once again, were hard to come by, and the Retro goal came after a push on Nige, which the ref ignored and the Dolphins defence were flat footed as Retro went one up. However in the middle of the second half, Jobe, revelling in his forward role, pumped a neat pass into the path of Nige and Nige doesn’t miss many of those! 1-1 was the final score.
MATCH 4 v Tadley Striders 4-1
Match four was against a team that were wearing the very same strip as ourselves, but they did bemoan the fact that they didn’t have sponsors! However cometh the hour, cometh the man and this was a cameo from me that will last long in the memory and may never be repeated, so excuse me whilst I wax lyrical about this match. Admittedly this was against the weakest opposition we had faced, although by no means the weakest in the competition. Skipper Mike G sent me up front with Jobe to be ‘a nuisance’ but I became more, much more than that. After three minutes a long ball down the right was cut back from the bye line by Jobe and I hit it first time on the keeper’s narrow side. A defensive lapse saw Tadley equalise, but that was the moment that I turned from poacher to provider playing with my back to goal. First a neat 1-2 with Nige and a shot that had the keeper unmoved (literally, he didn’t see it!), next another 1-2 with Mark and it was 3-1 to the Dolphins and finally it was time for Nige and me to combine again to finish off Tadley completely with Nige providing a sublime finish. Mike A nearly made it four assists for me in the last minute, narrowly firing wide after I had put him through. Man of the Match, moi? Shurely shome misteak?
MATCH 5 v Emsworth 0-1
We had already been informed that Emsworth were a physical side and so it proved. And not only physical, but also unsporting cheats into the bargain. Shoving, pushing and shirt tugging was their game and taking advantage of the overly lenient ref. Danny and me were fortunate to be on the touchline for this match, in which the Dolphins just shaded possession through the first five minutes with Mark shooting over when given a rare opportunity to sight the goal. It was on five minutes when the ref was guilty of a horrendous error and Emsworth took full advantage. Mark was striding down the right wing and having sighted a shot, attempted a strike on goal. The ball clearly struck an Emsworth defender and spiralled over the bye line for a corner. Jobe trotted across to take the corner kick whilst the ref unbelievingly signalled a goal kick, which was quickly taken and booted upfield to their lone striker who slotted the ball past Mike G. The Dolphins were in uproar and the Welsh Wizard has apoplectic with rage. Danny got a ticking off from the ref for protesting from the sidelines. OK, maybe we shouldn’t have stopped playing and just got stuck in, but it was most obviously a corner and the Emsworth team unsportingly grasped the opportunity. Their invitation to the Clearwell Cup quickly rescinded.
So that completed the first round of matches and now we were divided into three sections depending upon where we finished in our mini league.
LEAGUE POSITIONS (Flower Pot Men)
2 Gosport Civil Service
4 Dolphins W 2 D 1 L 2 7pts
5 Havant & Waterlooville
6 Tadley Striders
Teams 1 and 2 into the Shield, teams 3 and 4 the Gold Cup and teams 5 and 6 the Silver Cup. Matches now 10 minutes each half.
SEMI FINAL v Lancing 3-1
At this point the two leagues combined and we met our old rivals Lancing in the semi finals. Well, it was a Lancing team by name, but not as we know it. Apparently half their squad cried off as they didn’t want to miss their Sunday roast! Therefore several nomads were included. A full strength Lancing would have given the Dolphins much more of a contest, but this was fairly easy. Jobe was set up when the Lancing keeper spilled my shot and the Chairman was on the spot to hit the rebound. Nige scored two of his trademark thunderbolts, both times being put through by Rod and all Lancing got was a last minute consolation.
FINAL v Retro 1-0
Whilst we had a fairly easy Semi Final against Lancing, Retro had gone to town against their opposition, dispatching them 10-0. I can only guess which side this was as communication was pretty sketchy all day, but they certainly had the largest goalkeeper ever seen in competition! Thankfully diving for the ball was not his forte otherwise the Richter Scale would have recorded a mini earthquake in the Bognor area!
But on to the game itself and If our first match against Retro was cagey in the extreme, this was even more so. Mike A saw an early effort scrape the outside of a post and Nige had one over the bar shortly after, but chances were thin on the ground. Midway through the first half Lady Luck smiled on the Dolphins as Mark’s shot cannoned off a defender and past the Retro keeper. Both keepers thereafter performed heroics to keep out the opposition and all credit to the Dolphins back line who played their part, particularly Rod who made some timely interventions. Danny by now had retired hurt, but complete with a new nickname after his remonstrations from earlier in the day. Hereon in he will be known as the Marf from the Sarf (to be said in a Cockney accent).
RESULTS: P 7 W4 D1 L2 Goals Nige 5, Mark 3, Jobe 1, Robin 1
Thoughts on the day:
It was Bognor Town’s first walking football competition and they are still feeling their way with this, so congrats to them for putting this on and gaining support from 12 teams. That said there were a few issues which will hopefully be addressed next year. Refereeing standards were appalling apart from Heidi (Clearwell Cup ref 2017), who didn’t preside over any of our matches. The day was too long, with lots of standing around and getting colder. Shorter matches might be the answer. Communication of results and updates was non-existent and nobody seemed to know what was going on most of the time. On the plus side there was a nice buffet at the end and the ‘trophies’ which were intended as a joke, which went down well. Bottom placed teams got sticks of rock, we got a gold plastic trophy filled with Haribo sweets. It will take pride of place in our trophy cabinet at MCLC.
Congrats to both our stand in goalkeepers, Mike G and Mark, who performed heroics on occasions and also to Mark, Mike A and Nige, who were always threat to the opposition. Jobe had some nice touches up front and Danny and Rod were stalwart in defence and always looking to add to the attack. A damn good squad performance and very well managed by the Welsh Wizard so that we all got ample game time.
Two Left Feet (and he scored with one and assisted with three with the other one)
Thanks to Ryan Elliott for this report on the Peoples Cup Finals in which three of our members, Bill, Mark N and Pete all featured.
It was a cold, drizzly day at St. George’s Park, but for the top Walking Football side in the South East - The Brighton Seals, there was a great deal of excitement in the air.
The Seals’ People’s Cup journey started with local qualifiers, followed by a gruelling nine-team regional knockout round in Wimbledon, where only one side could progress to England’s esteemed training complex to compete at finals day. It was the Seals who triumphed.
But what is the FA People’s Cup? Essentially, it’s a series of small-sided, free to enter series competitions run by the FA, partnered with the BBC’s Get Inspired scheme. Walking Football was one of eighteen categories, which also included disability football, college and veterans.
35,000 people were involved in the People’s Cup last year, and this year promised to be even bigger. For the Walking Football, just six teams remained to compete on finals day in a round-robin tournament, followed by the top four progressing to the semi-finals.
The Seals’ first opponents were Beccles Town FC. The two sides played out an intense 1-1 draw, although the Brighton side will have been aggrieved not to take all three points after taking the lead and hitting the woodwork twice.
Back-to-back defeats followed for the Seals, who narrowly lost 2-1 to Pele’s Pearls before succumbing 2-0 against eventual winners Fleetwood Town Flyers.
Despite the tricky start to proceedings and obvious quality of the opposition, the good-spirited nature of the fixtures never waned, and it was clear that all competitors were having a fantastic day. The matches were all competitive and played with passion, but the underlying levels of respect and sportsmanship were ever-present.
Despite a thrilling 2-2 draw against Wilts FC Yellow in their penultimate game, the Seals’ People’s Cup journey came to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Grangetown Walking Football A.
There were handshakes and smiles all-round, and although the Seals ended the day in sixth place, there was a clear sense of pride at making it to St. George’s Park in the first place, as representatives of Walking Football in the South East.
Seals Manager Bill Clifford was positive about his team’s journey: “it’s nice to play here at St. George’s Park, we’ve done well to get to the finals and if on the day we weren’t good enough then so be it.”
Fleetwood Town Flyers wound up eventual winners of the competition, beating Beccles Town in the final on penalties