“Very satisfied with our performance given that we had an average age of 8 yrs or so above our rivals. Come on FA, it’s time to introduce an over 60s section for the FA Peoples Cup.”
John Myatt, Team Manager
Four weeks ago Wakefield Wanderers emerged victorious from 6 local teams to progress to the semi-final stage which was again held at Goals, Leeds on Saturday 24th March.
On arrival we were told that this time there would be just 5 teams involved as Sheffield United had withdrawn the day previously. The North East was represented by near neighbours Grangetown and Peterlee, the East Riding by Grimsby Ancient Mariners and the ‘South’ by Wakefield Wanderers and Leggy Mambos (Barnsley).
Changes to personnel were required as both Chris Lund and Ray Blackburn were unavailable. David Holbrow and Mark Fielden were drafted in as replacements with John Myatt becoming ‘7th man’ if needed alongside his duties as Team Manager/Match Reporter. John McClelland took on the role of Team Captain and organised game formations/substitutions to draw the best from our squad.
Looking around the other teams it was again apparent we were ‘giving away a few years’ and it would be tough going against quality teams. On a warm afternoon the event saw a small crowd swelled by several Leeds Titans players who sportingly supported our efforts on their home turf after we defeated them in the round 1 final in February.
The Wanderers squad consisted of Mick Wilde (GK), John McClelland (Capt), Mike Thompson, Stephen Caven, David Holbrow, Mark Fielden and John Myatt.
The format was 5 a side games with each match lasting 12 minutes. A single league with four qualifying for the semis and the bottom team eliminated.
As there were several categories of the Peoples Cup taking place at the venue that day, the car park was packed and changing facilities at a premium, however having arrived in good time as instructed, we eventually found an empty pitch for a warm up.
After a number of delays, mainly due to the withdrawal of Sheffield and the need to re-jig the match schedule, the Captain's briefing took place. We found ourselves first on, the competition was to take place on one pitch as there was only one referee allocated to the Walking Football.
It was strange then to be asked for money by the referee, fortunately not a Daily Mail 'sting', simply that he had forgotten to bring a coin for the toss up! David Holbrow provided a shiny new £1 coin, however even with a photo of the exchange taken as evidence, the money was NOT returned at the end of the competition!
Game 1: Grangetown A Drew 1-1 (McClelland)
The very first game of the tournament saw us quickly in action with JMc again taking the striker role and giving us a deserved lead with an assured finish following a right wing cross from Stephen. Our opponents played some attractive football and Mick was called on to make several good saves.
The goal conceded was rather cruel - our defence believed play had been stopped but the whistle was from the adjoining pitch - Grangetown took full advantage of our hesitation to equalise.
Game 2: Peterlee Helford Lost 0-2
After our first game we had seen Peterlee (aided by a newly recruited striker) defeat Leggy Mambos 2-1, so JMc changed the formation and played in his defensive role. Unusually the Peterlee striker managed to outwit him and we were quickly 2 goals down. With the game beyond us Mark and John Myatt were given the opportunity to feature with JMc and Stephen were withdrawn.
Apart from Grangetown, all the other teams had been drawn with one set of back to back fixtures and the Wanderers now prepared for that situation.
Game 3: Grimsby Ancient Mariners Won 2-0 (Thompson, 2)
Having seen the Ancient Mariners lose 6-0 to Mambos we needed a victory in the first of our back to back games. JMc reverted to striker role and we dominated play with Stephen and JMc hitting the post (twice) before Mike opened the scoring with a well controlled ‘blaster’ that gave the keeper no chance.
The lead was doubled when Mike coolly finished with a shot across the despairing keeper.
Game 4: Leggy Mambos Lost 0-4
With Mariners having no points on the board and still to face both Grangetown and Peterlee, who had now beaten Mambos, Wanderers and Grangetown, we took the decision that 4 points would be enough to take us into the semis and rested both JMc and Mike.
The Mambos played their usual quick passing game and we found it hard to match them going two behind quite quickly. Despite a few late chances coming our way we were well beaten and ready for the 3 game rest before we faced the semi-final challenge.
Semi Final: Peterlee Helford Lost 0-3
Our reward for making it to the semi-final was a match against League winners Peterlee, who put us under pressure from the off and managed to open their account in early exchanges. Mick had to make some of his ‘clear it with my legs whilst diving’ saves to keep us in the game.
Stephen and David were working hard to support JMc and it was encouraging that all three had decent attempts. Sadly we were unable to capitalise on these whilst our opponents took their chances, but we gave them a decent run for their money.
The Final Outcome
Grangetown defeated Leggy Mambos in the other semi-final, reversing the 1-0 defeat they suffered to Mambos in the League .
The final was a keenly fought contest between Peterlee (who told us they never win finals) and Grangetown. It looked like Peterlee would be successful as they twice went ahead, only for Grangetown to come back within a minute of conceding.
The dreaded penalty shoot out saw Grangetown prevail with the 5th penalty - the Grangetown keeper scored his penalty then saved the spot kick taken by the Peterlee keeper.
The Wanderers FA Cup dream was over (but only for this year).
Updated 19:27 - 25 Mar 2018 by David Holbrow