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All Alone On Christmas*

Christmas time can be the saddest time of the year for some unfortunate souls, lest we forget But anyone involved with SHWFC need not fear the Festive Time The hardest working Santas in St Helens are at hand to raise spirits and bring a smile It's a reminder too that this Blog title is arguably one of the best Christmas songs (though Kirsty & Shane might disagree) But I digress (usually a sign that nothing much has been going on)

Our last week before the Mid-Winter break, when we disappear off to play in lucrative 'friendly matches overseas' has been anything but quiet Starting last Friday with the Annual Club Christmas Get together at the Boot Room, through a memorable Monday Santa-strewn morning session at Ruskin and the midweek meander at the Sutton SoccerDome

It's been a blast

Friday's Boot Room session at the Turks Head was probably our best yet Certainly the best attended with a splendid buffet that was still filling culinary gaps as late as Saturday afternoon It was good to see a bumper number of members and their other halves make the effort to get to deepest Cooper Street The hoped-for link to Disco Deggs in Far Far Away didn't work to plan but we are assured he raised a glass in recognition of his Club Mates (there was after all a 'Y' in the day!)

Monday morning brought a flurry of Santas to Ruskin as pictured Full marks for O'Hooligan and friends for providing this alternative way of marking the last Monday session before the real one descends chimneys around the Town The Monday games are related below but rest assured this wizard prank was so typical of the Club

Never let it be said SHWFC didn't keep Christmas

A bumper crowd made the momentary move to the side line (rather like the Grand National starting line - 23 facing the wrong way) Warm up in the locker we moved swiftly to team selection The legendary all Red Santas made one team selection exceptionally easy The rump of the membership were corralled into sides thereafter

Two sides of six - Santas v Pink and then four teams of five!

Santa Select - Enoch, Mika, Eileen, Eamon, Kenny and Harry the Hatchet

Pink Pantomime Villains - Steve Honeyman, Phil the Power, Tom Stretch, Andy Man, Haggis and Barry Wizz

Let's break tradition and report exclusively on this important fixture played under British & Irish Lions Rules Refereed impeccably by El Presidente the game was quickly underway and under a cloud as Andy Man(anger) was felled by a wayward ankle tap This signalled that Lions tradition that was instigated by the legendary Willie John McBride - The 99 Call

For non Rugby Union types that is a call to arms and all players are expected to pile into the melee and dispense summary justice to anyone in the way Photgraphic evidence is provided below Those of a nervous disposition might want to leave the room at this point

Once the steam (quite literally) had dispersed El Presidente had the task of restoring order His decision to award a Pink free kick was made and the brandishing of a Blue Card to Mr Man for "simulation" was deemed 'fair enough' It was going to be one of those games

The Ho Ho Ho Derby continued with occasional reminders to slow down issued to both sides The first goal was claimed by Steve Honeyman, who was promptly placed on the naughty list by the Santas An appeal for 'offside' was rejected on the grounds that Offside doesn't exist in Walking Football- "this isn't Anfield" the remark that earned El Presidente an extra lump of coal with his presents

Santa replied to the goal with a sublime goal of his own soon after The Pink net was unguarded following a distraction provided by Prout G (who tried unsuccessfully to claim an assist)

Then VAR was strangely quiet when the Honeyman fired in his second But Santas were level shortly after from the penalty spot - a nice move featuring S. Claus, finding Santa before the pressure led to a stray Elf shoe landing beyond the area line to incur the penalty and earn El Pres a reprieve - back on the Nice List 2-2 and some great football on show as well loads of Christmas related remarks

Steve Honeyman regained the lead for the Pink before Tom stretched it further with a shot diverted off the unfortunate Bad Elf known also as Santa Mika! Eamon masquerading as Santa found time to slot home in between mouthfuls of mince pies 4-3 and a proper contest Barry Wizzed a penalty straight at Harry's Hatchet Pink holding the narrow advantage at the Egg Nog interval

In the home straight Steve Honeyman cemented his role as arch villain (oh no he's not) with the session's last goal 5-3 Santa Potty Mouth spent 2 minutes in the Sin Bin following a needless discussion with the Official The situation was exacerbated by the intervention of a spectator with too much to say and no right to say it

The last period was marked by Bad Elf Mika tumbling to the floor to the concern of all involved in the distribution of presents on Christmas Eve Thankfully no lasting damage was done, he will be there to guide the sleigh as usual His Santa outfit sustained a severe testing but was found to be black rubber ball proof The game ended shortly after with Pink stroking the ball around to see out time 5-3 the final score

Elsewhere the teams of five were selected in a much less predictable fashion;

Sky Ladies - Julie, Liz, Tomo, Kirsty and Michelle Monday

Orange - Les Meldrew, Charlie, Donal, Phil the Moss and Wickie

Black - Roger, Phil the Cat, Spiro, McSpeed and Snakehips

Purple - Thatto Dave, Grav, Amazon, Chris K and Paul F

In the first Round of games Orange were well matched with the Sky Ladies the 1-1 draw hard earned with a goal from Phil the Moss cancelled out by Jill Tomo's solo strike

Purple had way too much energy for Black winning 3-0 thanks to goals by Thatto Dave with a brace and Amazon Prime (playing despite being inundated with online orders)

Orange squashed Black, Donal finding the net twice with Les Meldrew and Phil the Moss also on target Mike McSpeed was doubly on target for Black but their inability to match the Orange zest proved critical There was a Blue Card for Snakehips too, surely the oldest Sin Binning for back chat ever Will they ever learn? The other game was a close affair decided cruelly by a deflection Michelle Monday unable to prevent giving Purple the narrowest win over the Sky Ladies

In the last hurrah, Purple and Orange produced a Christmas cracker but neither side could find the winner A goal by Chris K for Purple pegged back by a Phil Moss strike 1-1

Black found a hero in McSpeed with another 2 goals hauling his side to a respectable draw with Sky Ladies Tomo and Michelle Monday (her penalty making up for her unfortunate earlier own goal) The game ended all square at 2-2

It was time for cake and quiz

Wednesday night's weather and the heavy programme of pre-Christmas distractions put paid to a bumper turnout to end 2023 Instead we decided that the 18 players (this included a reluctant Oh Go Then Lord Rainford) to strip down to their casual Christmas sleepwear and play solely indoors rather than braving in the artic elements outside

The teams were eventually shoe-horned into three fighting units

White - Les Meldrew, Kirsty, Grav, Kenny, Jason and Wickie

Red - Joe the Ghost, Thatto Dave, Enoch, Lord Rainford, Mulla and Haggis

Green- Chris 10P, Andy Man, Martin Mc, Darron, Michelle Wednesday and Eamon

Games were refereed by the dynamic duo of El Presidente and the Cockney Rebel, who were generous with penalties, advantages and guidance from the off

The first match was settled with an early goal by Kenny who fired a sublime long range pass from Wickie into M'Lord's top corner There were good shouts for equalisers from Thatto Dave, but the eagle-eyed officials ruled both out as both shots were dispatched from outside the Red Zone 1-0 to White and tough on the White who more than matched the victors

Next up Green tried to thwart the White with a more structured team approach Kirsty scored from a rasping shot at the near post before Chris 10P found the space to fire the sides level 1-1 the final result in a tight tussle

Red were undone by the superior teamwork of Green in match 3 Chris10P and Martin Mc with the goals That effort by Martin all the more remarkable as his angled drive crept in at the far post with the near post the anticipated target 2-0 with Green now in full flow

White were undone by the shooting accuracy of Red Thatto Dave and Joe the Ghost finding the net whilst Kirsty struck a lifeline for White But Red held on however for a close fought win by 2 goals to 1

Green were surprised by the durability of the White defence Chris 10P did find a corner of the net but several defensive interventions by Wickie and the enobled keeper prevented a goal fest White picked off their fewer chances with a brace by Kenny, fresh from his Santa stint, the deciding factor 2-1 in favour of the White

The finale was a full blooded frantic contest with Red and Green unable to find the net despite creating lots of chances

An hour's frenzied play drew much spontaneous applause; some laughter, Wickie's missed penalty and Lord Rainford's dashing about his area like a headless chicken but above all the opportunity to join friends together in the game we all love

Crowd limits at the Boot Room meant just our Three Wise Men were permitted to meet the media and dissect the evening's entertainment News from our South American scout was limited to dubious photos of crowd scenes and/or reptiles So far so good - no International Incidents to date The Wise Men were grateful that the said scout wasn't around to crow about West Ham's capitulation in his usual manner

So here ends 2023, an odd year in many ways but enjoyable for the most part

We offer sincere Best Wishes to all our Members for a joyous Christmas and New Year

Lets do it all again starting Wednesday 3rd January at the Sutton SoccerDome 6:45

Monday sessions resume January 8th 10:45 at Ruskin Sports Village

All Alone On Christmas* - Darlene Love can't beat a Phil Spector tune at Christmas

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