“Despite the heat and the determined opposition, I am very proud of the 100% shown by our team today. A credit to the Bradford City shirt!”
Mike Thompson, Team Captain
Following the success of the Walking Football demonstration at Valley Parade in January, Bradford City invited Wakefield Walking Football Club to represent them in the 2017 EFL Trust Walking Football Tournament. An invitation we were delighted to accept.
After successful results in the initial stage (played in April) the Wakefield guys, representing our good friends at Bradford City FC, set off in the early morning sunshine for the National Finals of the EFL Walking Tournament. Matches were played at the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground of Aston Villa and all of our players were mightily impressed to be playing in such magnificent surroundings and returned home with some ‘stripy suntans’
The initial entry of 70 teams had been reduced to 12 for the National Finals and Bradford City were drawn in Group 2 whilst Sheffield United (the First Stage winners at Harrogate) were drawn in Group 1.
The heat was clearly going to be a factor and Team Captain, Mike Thompson, had sensibly arranged to take the maximum squad of 9, including 2 keepers. The full squad comprised Martin Burrell, Stephen Stoker, David Holbrow, John Jones, Chris Lund, John Myatt, Jim Pedley, Matt Pennington and Mike Thompson. Mike’s decision was fully justified as regular keeper Stephen Stoker was injured during game 3 and replaced by Martin Burrell, who managed not to concede during his time between the pegs. David Holbrow also suffered an injury in the penultimate game so that a maximum of 7 fit players were available for the final match.
In our opening game against Notts County we conceded an early goal and found it impossible to claw back the deficit despite some good attacking moves. Next up were Cheltenham, where we lost a tight match by 2 goals. Having gone behind we were punished for trying to salvage a point from this encounter when our opponents scored again
Our next match was against Blackpool – a physically strong and skilful team who turned out runaway winners in our group with 11 points. Stephen Stoker’s injury led to Martin Burrell taking over goalkeeper duties when we were already behind, and a match that could have gone either way saw Blackpool emerge as 1-0 winners and eventually run out as comfortable winners of Group 2.
A changed formation was put into place for our final matches and fortunes improved with consecutive 0-0 draws against Luton and Colchester. Walking Football tournaments can be decided on fine margins as Luton eventually progressed to the semi-final stage as Group 2 runners up (with just 6 points) and were only defeated by Kidderminster after a lengthy penalty shoot-out.
Group 1 had been closely contested with Sheffield on 10 points narrowly edging out Kidderminster on 9 points. With both Group 1 teams winning the semis, the Final saw Group Winners Sheffield take on runners up Kidderminster and secure the EFL trophy by a narrow 1-0 margin.
Finally, thanks to everyone at Aston Villa for looking after us on the day and ensuring we were well hydrated during a very hot day’s tournament play.
Notts County lost 0-1
Updated 19:31 - 8 Aug 2017 by David Holbrow
Cheltenham lost 0-2
Blackpool lost 0-1
Luton drew 0-0
Colchester drew 0-0