“If the football rumour mill was to be believed, several local teams changed their playing venue to avoid meeting the Wanderers in the first round. How right they were to do so !”
Chris Lund, Team Captain
The first round of the FA Peoples cup was held at Goals in Leeds on an extremely cold, but sunny Saturday afternoon.
Six teams had entered the Walking Football section:
The Wanderers six man squad consisted of. Mick Wilde (GK), Chris Lund (Capt.) Mike Thompson, Ray Blackburn, Steve Caven and John McClelland. The format was 5 aside games with each match lasting 12 minutes. A single league with the top four qualifying for the semis.
Game 1. v Batteyford SC - Won 3-0 (Steve Caven, Mike Thompson, Ray Blackburn)
With John McClelland informing us he would be slightly late, the starting line up was the five remaining players.
Batteyford were an unknown quantity so we opened the game cautiously in order to get the measure of our opponents. However, apart from being quite physical, they were no match for the passing and movement the Wanderers showed.
There were plenty of shots on goal, with not very many on ours and Mick Wilde was untroubled in the nets. Steve Caven opened the scoring with further goals from Mike and Ray quickly following and a relatively easy 3 points was attained
Game 2. v Wharfedale Wanderers - Won 6-0 (Steve Caven 2, Mike Thompson 2, Ray Blackburn 2)
John had arrived but had not yet warmed up properly, so we let him finish his coffee. (don't know if there was anything else in it!!!!) so the starting line up remained the same.
A very convincing win with our front man (Mike) and both midfielders (Steve and Ray) getting a brace apiece. The defence was largely untroubled and another clean sheet with Chris and Mick in danger of getting frostbite!!!!!
Game 3 v Harrogate WFC - Won 3-1 (John McClelland 3)
Ray stood down for this game, and a caffeine fuelled John Mc led the way up front with Mike Thompson dropping back to midfield with Steve. This was a quick game with lots of running, including our own "Speedy" Steve, who received two warnings from the ref, so before he was "sin binned" we replaced him with a more "sedate" Ray Blackburn.
John has clearly been a frustrated centre half all his life as he opened his "striker" account with a superb hat trick, but sadly we conceded our first goal of the tournament. However, another relatively comfortable 3 points on the board.
Game 4. v Wharfedale Strollers - Drew 1 - 1 (John McClelland)
A more difficult game against a handy Wharfedale Strollers side, however we took the lead through a John Mc goal and were creating chances but unable to score.
A momentary lapse by Mike, who tried to pass the ball across the penalty area but didn't hit it hard enough, and it went straight to a "stroller" who "strolled" it past a helpless Mick in goal. The game ended 1-1, and being the caring, understanding individuals we are, we didn't give Mike too much grief!!!!!!!
Game 5 v Leeds Titans - Lost 0-3
We had ten points from the first four games. Our "seventh" squad member, John Myatt, had been collating all the scores and we knew we had at least second place. John Mc's "caffeine" levels were running low, so he was rested for this game knowing that it wouldn't cost us anything if we lost the game.
As usual, Titans came out with all guns blazing and took an early lead with a turn and fierce low shot past a diving Mick Wilde. They played good possession football, holding the ball and creating chances and ran out comfortable winners.
Semi Final v Wharfedale Strollers - Won 4-0 (Steve Caven 2, Mike Thompson, John McClelland)
After drawing 1-1 with the Strollers in our qualifying game, we knew only a good performance would see us through. With Ray standing down, John resumed his role as our "target" man.
John was getting plenty of the ball, holding it up and laying it off for Steve, Mike and even Chris to have shots on goals, but nothing could stop John who having "eyeballed" the keeper coolly stroked the ball past him.
Steven Caven scored two but could easily have had more with at least one strike hitting the post, and one by Mike Thompson completed the scoring. This was not as easy as the score suggests with Mick Wilde having to make several good saves to keep another clean sheet.
Final v Leeds Titans. - Won 2-0 (John McClelland 2)
The Titans beat Batteyford SC 5-1 in the other semi, to make the Final a local derby.
Titans came into the final unbeaten, with a +30 goal difference and (although I've said it before recently) must have fancied their chances against us.
Ray Blackburn gracefully stood down to allow Wanderers to field an unchanged team from the semi. We knew we would have to work hard to get anything from this game and from the start you could see and feel the determination from the Wanderers. With John Mc leading the way up front, and Mick, a Colossus in the Wakefield goal, whenever we could we took the game to the Titans.
We played the ball as often as we could to John's feet, who held it up, passed to his supporting midfielders, Steve and Mike, when required, or turned to take on the defence. The opening goal was always going to be crucial, and it was the Wanderers who took it, albeit a soft one with the Titans goalie misjudging and failing to hold onto a John Mc shot.
As expected, the Titans came back strongly, and Mick Wilde was having to make more saves in this game than all the others put together, but our defence, including John, Steve and Mike held firm and the game was clinched with a superb strike from John Mc for us to lead 2-0.
We controlled the game with possession football ensuring in the last few minutes that we didn't give the ball away, however the drama continued to the end with the Titans hitting the Wakefield upright with 30 seconds to go.
Final whistle 2-0 to the Wanderers. A great game of football against worthy opponents, played in the right spirit, as always when these two teams meet.
It was a long cold afternoon, with temperatures dropping below zero for the semi and final. A fantastic result that was only achieved by the commitment, hard work and quite a lot of skilful play by the six players who played.
Many thanks to our "seventh" squad member John Myatt, who turned up when injured, even though his beloved Stoke City were live on Sky, and he didn't want to know the score. He stood there in the freezing cold, cheering us on and collating all the scores so we knew what was required.
Updated 12:07 - 27 Feb 2018 by David Holbrow