“A great day in Donny - did anyone find the missing Futsal ball? (MT). Thanks to the Oldies for helping me up after the photos - anyone seen my pen? (JJ)”
Mike Thompson & John Jones - Team Managers
Our good friends at Retro Rovers invited the Wanderers to take part in their Festival of Walking Football today at Goals in Doncaster.
5-a-side round robin competitions for 50+, 60+, 70+ age ranges were scheduled, with a series of friendlies also arranged for those who had the energy and desire to play more games.
Given our Age profile, we entered teams in both the 60+ and 70+ categories and two strong squads of six made their way on a sunny Sunday morning to the venue in South Yorkshire for a noon start.
The squad members were:
70+ - Pete Bentley, Colin Boyes, Dave Cossins, John Jones(Player Manager), Derek Lee, John Rooke
60+ - Dave Holbrow/Chris Lund/Mel Mitchell/Steve Stoker/Mike Thompson(Player Manager) /Paul Waggett.
Having survived the heat of the changing rooms which attempted to replicate the Great Doncaster Fire of 1204, twelve sweaty Wanderers joined the player briefing taking place on the' Wembley' pitch. The organiser, our friend Jan Milner, then gave a powerful speech about how we were "all good lads" who "knew how to play the game properly", finishing every point by reminding us how she "loved us all to bits"!
Two referees were introduced, Jan being one of them (where does she get her energy from?) and the usual questions about free kicks, back passes, goalies kick-outs were raised and answered. In an unusual move the 50+ and 60+ Rothwell teams exchanged shirts before a ball was kicked, their excuse being that this was to avoid a colour clash, but we suspect it was to show off their tans!
70+ Match Reports
In their first game against Retro Rovers 70+ team, the Wanderers showed off their cultured passing and silky on-the-ball skills. With John Jones and Dave Cossins solid at the back, and John Rooke seeking space like Yuri Gagarin, they created by far the better chances. but were unable to breach the Retro defence, Pete Bentley in goal keeping an untroubled clean sheet.
The match ended 0-0, honours even with plenty to learn and discuss before the return match.
The trophy 'decider' was a more cultured display from both sides with Wanderers continuing to rotate their squad throughout the games. Telling contributions were made by Derek Lee and Colin Boyes who provided the supply to John 'the Bionic Man' Rooke who scored three stunning goals to give Wanderers the win 3-0.
Spectators were spellbound watching the older guys play, the quality of passing and organisation testament to their substantial cumulative experience. As an experiment of potential future 70+ tournaments this was an unqualified success, as the smiles on the participants' faces confirmed (yes, even hat trick hero Rookie had to grin!).
60+ Match Reports
The 60+ competition consisted of ourselves, Rothwell Old Boars (ROB), and two sides from Retro Rovers, conveniently named "A" & "B". There were familiar faces in all of our opposition teams, and a healthy respect as a consequence.
Kicking off at Noon, our first match was against Retro "A" and we were determined not to have our usual slow start. With Paul Waggett taking the sub role for this game, we looked to get into a rhythm of passing and moving, and had a couple of goal chances early on. As the time wore on and still no score an attacking move by Mel Mitchell left him available on the edge of the Retro area and Dave Holbrow attempted to play him in with a back heel. Unfortunately Retro stole the ball and scored from the resultant break away.
(Editor's note: Thank goodness John Mc and John Myatt weren't there to berate me very loudly for my foolish back heel!)
We made amends however, when Mel Mitchell made good ground to slot home and make the score 1-1, which is how the game finished.
Our next game was against our local rivals from Rothwell, and this started in a positive way when Mike Thompson won the toss. Unfortunately, having lost the toss eight times in a row when we represented Bradford City in the recent EFL Cup, he was so surprised at this that he didn't seem to know what he had to do next, so we took the kick-off by default!
Paul Waggett had replaced Mel Mitchell to make his competitive 60+ debut, slotting into the midfield role like he belonged there.
The match was played in a great spirit with the occasional 'contact' ending in handshakes and the exchange of pleasantries. Once again we had the greater possession and goal chances and finally ran out 2-0 winners with Holbrow making some small amend for his previous misdemeanour by scoring both goals.
Other results left us with the challenge of having to win our final game against Retro "B" to snatch the trophy from Retro "A" on goal difference. Mel Mitchell returned to the starting line up and Chris Lund took the sub role with numerous options agreed should the game position need them.
In the event this was our most polished and convincing performance of the day, the passing was crisp and precise, the defending was solid and sensible, and the goal chances were made and taken to give us a 4-0 victory. The goals were shared out with Mel Mitchell, Mike Thompson, Paul Waggett and Holbrow getting one each.
This was a very satisfying performance and another trophy was in the bag. All players made important contributions to the success including Steve Stoker in goal who was his usual calm and agile self when called upon - recovery from his recent injury seems to be just about fully complete.
Friendly Match Report
Jan 'organised' us into 6 groups of friendly teams, putting 50+, 60+ and 70+ players from different clubs together and 3 'kick abouts' took place. This was another success as games were played in a friendly spirit, however 10 mins into the games the heavens opened and torrential rain and hailstones brought the fun to an end so we retired to the showers and the bar for the presentation of the trophies.
The 50+ competition was won by ROB, their first trophy win. Our two trophies were celebrated by the usual 'beers in the bar' approach, photos were taken and exaggerations followed. (See photo album on website) - talk of moving on to a pub in Doncaster was considered briefly but rejected due to the need for late Sunday lunches.
Hopefully everyone got home okay, Paul Waggett was overheard trying to find out if his West Yorkshire bus pass would be valid in South Yorkshire!
Thanks to Jan and the Retro lads for doing a great job organising the Festival and to all the participants for making it a success.
That's six trophies so far in 2017, two more than we won in the whole of 2016 - Pete Bentley is already looking to build an extension to the trophy cabinet at WSC!
Updated 21:44 - 7 Oct 2017 by David Holbrow