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Ain’t Too Prout To Beg*

Updated: May 28, 2023

After the hype and the tastefully designed build-up frenzy it came down to 2 sides, 18 players, 1 referee and 2 assistants to stage the Grand Final of our first ever internal competition Tournoi 2023

The game was played on a specially commissioned pitch, secured with the help of our good friend Mark Hayes, Chairman of Pilkingtons FC and Ruskin Sports Village GM It wasn’t ideal but it was flat and fair for both sides

The teams were;

Over 65s - Red - Harry Williams, Geoff Painter, Mike Andrews, John Penders, Eamon O’Donnell and Phil Lynch

Substitutes introduced in 1st Substitution Window

Tom Parr, Les Brack and Kenny Nolan

Over 40s - White- Neil Owens, Harrison Lovett, Derek Taylor, Chris Prout, Chris Gourdji and Paul Steiger

Substitutes introduced in 1st Substitution Window

Martin Briggs, Chris Fitzpatrick and Phil Holland

A decent and enthusiastic crowd assembled to witness Jeff Betty Birchall give his final messages to players before he signalled the start of the action

Play was immediately end to end with the Elderly Statesmen shading possession in the opening exchanges Their slight edge on control presented more reasonable chances but the Upstarts were organised and patient so the first segment yielded nothing really on target Lynch and O’Donnell were wayward and failed to really work the chatty man in the 40+ goal

Prout and Steiger were more measured at the other end but similarly were off target Lovett and Taylor who had enjoyed a developing partnership in the Group matches for the Upstarts were well shackled by Painter and Penders consequently Harry the Hatchet wasn’t really tested in the Red goalkeeping department during this period

The first segment ended with the award of Comedy Walk of the Night being unanimously given to Little John Penders 0-0 all square after 13 minutes and the first Substitution Window

White (the Over 40s) might have taken a snap lead when Taylor was fed wide with Gonzalo breaking a neck to get square for a open goal tap-in Unsurprisingly the Huyton hitman blazed an effort wide rather than provide a simple pass square 0-0 the score remained

The substitutes introduced in the first window largely cancelled each other out Paul ‘Rod’ Steiger stuck with Kenny Nolan to snub out Reds most lethal weapon Gonzalo sacrificed his more adventurous tendencies to pick up the ever-dangerous Tom 'Stretch' Parr The remaining subs Martin 'Cockney Rebel' Briggs and Les 'Victor Meldrew' Brack both were content to add defensive guile to their respective sides Parr had to work with half chances at best and was generally dealt with by the weight of White numbers

Half Time was signalled with neither side exerting a hold on proceedings

The Elderly Statesmen were neat and tidy with the ball and as befitting the pre-Tournament favourites were extremely difficult to shake off the ball The Upstarts had a more dynamic threat perhaps but had to face long spells without the ball

The second half got underway with a Parr snapshot fired high and comfortably saved by Owens (resplendent in his Lizard Man green keeper’s outfit)

Having grafted to force a White corner, Deggs (for it was he) then bisected the entire assembled force of attackers and defenders with a corner driven straight into touch on the opposite touchline “What a character!” - said none of his team mates

This crucial period of the game saw White finally wresting a measure of control on proceedings Their passing was sharper now, crisp and to feet but then suddenly Kenny Nolan smashed a good effort only to see the Green Flash produce a fine save to deny him Phil Lynch was close too for the Reds but was arguably lucky to escape being penalised when he strayed into the keeper’s area whilst defending a White corner

The Final Substitution Window arrived and the critical last roll of the dice meant the White Upstarts had a slight personnel edge with just 13 minutes to find a winner

With just 10 and a half minutes left the decisive first goal arrived and White had the lead that their growing game management probably justified A splendid team move with most of the team being involved ended with Gonzalo teeing up Chris Prout for an opening he wasn’t going to waste Mika in the Elderly Statesmen net was left floundering 1-0 after 31 minutes hard graft

Mika made a terrific save to prevent Prout doubling the lead then Gonzalo spun but couldn’t keep a shot down Phil Holland moved from his defensive shielding role to fire on target but again Mika kept him out White now most assuredly on top

Reds produced some outstanding work to offer chances for Tom Stretch and then Eamon But it was White that closed out the game with more space opening up as Red tired Mika proved another sparkling save but poor clearing distribution presented Chris Prout with the chance to fire into the bottom corner to seal the victory 2-0 both goals despite the despairing dives of Mike Andrews

A terrific game, played with great spirit sportsmanship and endeavour

Great advert for the game and St Helens Walking Football Club

A brief presentation of trophies to players involved then followed We learned that some of the Winners trophies had been damaged presumably in transit - replacements will be sought to ease any disappointment

Our first event has featured 9 games and in excess of sixty players, loads of goals at times and loads more laughs Our Club ethos protected and enhanced

We vow to learn some lessons from the whole process and come back in 2024 with a series of refinements that will continue to make everything more enjoyable for those involved We hope to involve even more players and make games as enjoyable as this year's final was

To the critics, who offered little constructive support but loads of criticism - enjoy your summer

You missed a real treat tonight Football Eh? Bloody Hell

Ain’t Too Prout To Beg* - The Temptations

A final note to wish a speedy recovery to our resident inspiration-girl Kirsty who had ended-up in hospital after an accidental clash on Wednesday night. Eileen was quickly on hand to take Kirsty to be checked out

After some tests the following day at Walton. A CT test came back ok and rest was the only prescription required thankfully. Thanks to specifically to Eileen but also to everyone on Wednesday for looking after Kirsty. We look forward to seeing her at a session soon A reminder that this weekend contains yet another May Bank Holiday Monday which means Ruskin will be closed

We have a very special club here and it's the members that make it that way.

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