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Big Shot*

Football, we are often told is the Nation's game, with as many detractors and divided opinions as devotees It's not as good as it used to be It's never been better

It seems you pay your money (and ever more each season) and tie your allegiance to your tribe or hate the game and the hype it generates

Walking Football is still finding its feet of course, since the current form of the game was codified in 2011, each Organisation and Club has deviated to find the version that best suits its needs SHWFC has evolved since we started in 2015 Originally playing indoors using the Beacon Sports Hall furniture including wall bars as part of the playing area, we graduated to a different format for indoor games at Sutton Leisure

The COVID Pandemic and our first forays outdoors meant further adaptions of our 'local rules' These days we play 3 Touch to encourage individual technical development and inclusion Our Referees are WFA qualified as their Laws of the Game appear to be the safest variant Yet our games are still too fast and littered with physical contact all too often but still we continue to progress

There's a distinct difference between our Monday and Wednesday sessions Play is frenzied in midweek, a much calmer affair on Mondays That we are able to accommodate the variety of players; ages, gender, health and mobility within our overall membership is frankly amazing Yet we do and we thrive overcoming every challenge with good grace, a smile and handshake

Monday's session at the Ruskin Sports Village was a prime example 37 players, 3 Referees, a sprinkling of spectators and more cake of course Once the preliminaries were attended to, the serious business of team selection got underway Numerically that task is straightforward 5 teams of 6 and one team of seven There's always a late adjustment process to address obvious inbalances of the teams

But even with the best intentions it isn't always possible to foresee all eventualities A strong team on paper doesn't always perform to expectations Injuries and form losses can still lead to unexpected downturns Occasionally a player can really thrive in the company of better players or within a more organised team

For the record Monday's teams were;

Pink - Andy Man(anger), Tom Derby, Liz, Spiro, Phil the Moss and Paul F

Sky - Chopper, Donal, Eileen, Haggis, Aldo and Little John

Purple - Harry the Hatchet, Snakehips, Kirsty, Geoff P, Enoch, Les and Gonzalo

Orange - Amazon, Tony K, Joe the Ghost, Barry Wizz, Tom Stretch and Steve Jones

Black - Roger, El Presidente, Lord Rainford, Jill Thomo, Eamon and Sheila

Green - John Seddon (most impressive keeping debut) Michelle Monday, McSpeed, Honeyman, Charlie and Gaz

The morning couldn't have got underway without our Referees of course with regulars Herr Betty and Cockney Rebel aided and abetted by Phil the Power

First up on Pitch 1 was Black v Pink with Eamon securing the only goal for the Black to claim the opening victory Ref Jeff Betty in charge Pink we're kept well away from sensible shooting distance but that didn't stop Spiro using his big toe to fire repeated salvos well wide, Spiro's gyroscope well off target

Cockney Rebel clamped down any tempted to trot, jog or run from the first whistle With Sky and Orange studiously following his guidance so obedient we're the players that they forgot the old adage that goals win games Nil - Nil the outcome

Mike Maguire, alias McSpeed due to his pace about the pitch, claimed both goals as Green overcame Purple with Phil the Power Middleton keeping a close eye on proceedings on Pitch 3, the one nearest Southport

In Round 2 Eamon hit a brace to steer Black to another win, Purple had no answer to the Black passing accuracy Harry the Hatchet performed miracles to keep the score to 2-0 Things were much tighter between Sky and Green Donal found the net for Sky but couldn't prevent Gaz and Steve the Honeyman from finding goals to Sade a 2-1 win Some impressive goal keeping by new boy John Seddon preserved the narrow Green advantage

Orange squashed Pink thanks to goals by Joe the Ghost and Steve Jones A strong all round performance saw Orange gain their first win of the morning's play

Round 3 saw a rare blank set of results with no goals scored in any of the games

Normal service resumed in Round 4 Green saw off a plucky Orange challenge thanks to goals by Gaz and the Honeyman once again 2-0 Orange goal less with our debutant keeper again proving most difficult to beat

Pink did squeak home with a 1-0 win over Purple Paul F claiming the winning goal with the Purple defence absent without leave

Sky had the best of a close encounter with Black, Haggis claiming two as Alan Aldridge stretched Black with some great passing and movement Eamon did pull one back but 3-1 was the result

The final matches produced just one goal as Tom Stretch tucked away the winner for Orange over Black Elsewhere Pink and Green plus Sky and Purple were unable to find the net as the session wound down in pleasant conditions

Wednesday night's effort was restricted to a lusty 8 v 9 game on the AstroTurf A tester for patience at times Clearly some of the regular "innards" didn't fancy an hour in the fresh air Their pale faces as tiny pink eyes barely coping with conditions For the record the teams were;

Yellow (9) - Michelle Midweek, Chris 10P, Kenny, Haggis, Steve Carine, Lord Rainford, Andy Man(anger), Chris 4G and Kidda

Blue (8) - Grav, Gonzalo, Gaz, Jason, Eileen, Kirsty, Deano and Joe the Ghost

Conditions that should have been dry and benign were instead wet and miserable Ref Jeff Betty had a trying time with both sides testing his patience with running and combative physicality too often creeping into play Gonzalo got shots off in tight situations but Yellow grew into a positional dominance as play continued Lord Rainford moved smartly to snuff out one chance Little had been seen of the Yellow attack with Blue marginally on top

Chris 10P hit the opening goal with the help of a generous deflection Steve Carine hit the second to fire Yellow 2 up after 8 minutes Lord Rainford spent an eventful period as keeper, his decision to ignore his hands to exclusively use his feet paying off

Haggis tested the Blue keeper with a shot that was only parried into Kenny's path for 3-0

Without dominating in any manner Yellow were 3-0 ahead with over 5 minutes left in the first period Blue lacking the appetite to mark or cover until Gonzalo turned a ball inside and away from Lord Rainford to fire an excellent drive into the corner 3-1

Blue disintegrated further with some pathetically wasteful play and were flattered to reach the break just 3-1 behind Deano and Gaz combined to remind Yellow that they weren't totally safe

The second half was largely a repeat of the first period with huge question marks remaining over the Blue appetite for the contest too evident Haggis produced a great piece of skill with a turn inside a Blue defender

Joe did manage to link with Deano to hit a shot that Michelle did well to clear Gonzalo produced a piece of keepy up to gift himself a chance, but his effort was too high The Blue rally was short lived as Kenny picked off another loose pass to fire Yellow into a 4-1 lead that they maintained through to full time

The game ended with handshakes all round Some of the players huddled around a Polo mint to warm their hands (other mint flavoured confectionery is available at all good stockists) whilst others stripped to the waist for the trek back to the changing rooms

What's the bet on 10 innards signed up before 9am this Wednesday?

Big Shot* - Billy Joel

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