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Blue Christmas*

Technically it is still well before the last door opens on Advent Calendars but with just four Walking Football sessions before Christmas it’s now rapidly approaching the end of 2022 This edition of our Blog has two distinct parts - a bonus for our avid readers Enjoy

The outdoor portion of Wednesday’s Sutton Session was conducted in cold but still conditions Base layers and hats were the preferred clothing options

Bibs, in some cases stretched to their utmost limits, added to the heat But it was a night for testing tired limbs and any strains The warm up was a vigorous reminder of the importance of stretching in preparation to play

The teams selected were;

Green - Neil, Michelle, Norman, Eamon, Daz, Jill, Thatto Dave and Chris 4G (late guest keeping appearance to even numbers)

White - Tom Derby, Haggis, Tom Stretch, Darron, Goldie, Gaz, Martin Mc and Deano

Daz brought about the first scary moment when he deftly touched a ball back to emergency keeper Chris 4G Happily the keeper responded to save the potential set back and Daz’s blushes At the other end Eamon was fed with a half chance and swept the ball in to the bottom corner with Tom Derby, taking his turn in the nets, waving the effort beyond his grasp 1-0 to Green a soft goal to concede so early in proceedings

Neil was making a big contribution in defence, benefitting from encouraging words from his more experienced team mates Green seemed comfortably on top at this stage Whites struggled to create much, efforts from Deano and Darron were dealt with little concern Tom Stretch chanced a decent shot from some distance, having tangled with Neil in a midfield battle of the Daddy Longlegs Then Haggis and Michelle tested the Green backline but at half time Green held out to lead 1-0 at the break

In the second half Green, were attacking the Far End Whilst White continued to push for an equaliser Deano went close but was foiled by an amazing save by Chris 4G With a three on one advantage Darron saw a shot fire back off a post having beaten the keeper Then in a moment of madness a disputed handball in midfield led to Daz Samo earning a Blue Card and 2 minutes in the Sin Bin for his continued pointless back chat with El Presidente (jack boots clearly pinching)

Green with the power play extra player couldn’t extend their lead White game-managing the two minutes with ease On Daz’s return Green did find the goal their overall play deserved when Jill picked off a defensive error to fire her side further ahead 2-0 to Green As the celebrations ended Darron swooped to intercept and fire home 2-1 with 9 minutes remaining

There was much to admire with those two goals, in particular the way that Jill and then Darron shaped their bodies to allow them to pivot and fire off those goal bound shots

There was an ebb and flow in the final minutes both sides keen to finish on top At last Deano found the mark with a 25 yarder that was pure class His first touch steadying the ball, his second touch taking the ball away from the nearest defender and third dispatching an unstoppable drive goal wards

2-2 with just six minutes left

The game ended with the ball stuck in the midfield melee Whether the players were huddling for added warmth or play was just too scrappy to provide a further clear chance we will never know But the final whistle echoed as play broke down once again in the middle of the pitch Some fantastic football from both sides and still some improvement to be worked on

Blue Christmas* - Elvis Presley

And now a rare festive treat for regular readers Lord Rainford has penned a quite separate Blog for the indoor parallel universe

Just Ain’t Good Enough*

Johnnie Taylor’s gut-wrenching Southern Soul tour deforms is the only song that your ace indoor newshound can find to reflect his feelings after a chaotic final 20 minutes in the SoccerDome

The teams selected were;

Reds - Joe the Ghost, Ray Shotgun C, Lord Rainford, Gonzalo and Enoch

Yellows - Phil the Power, Andy Man(anger), Les Meldrew, Little John and Nigel

As so often happens the game started well with the two sides evidently respectfully balanced and shackled by Referee Jeff Betty His growing reputation for controlling the indoor games is fast reaching Collina-like heights

The first session was cagey, until Red established a 2-0 lead Gonzalo dominated proceedings as he prone to do at times He ended a recent goal drought (just one goal in one game) by raining in shots and goals from all angles Yellow tried to stem the tide; Nigel in his usual robust style, Les urging his team mates against carelessness and Andy managing his troops as only he can do

At the end of the second break Reds were 6-2 ahead with Gonzalo walking (certainly not running) riot Prior to the final segment, he agreed to a controversial switch to see out the match as a Yellow

The trade allowed Little John to move in the opposite direction With ten minutes to go Gonzalo had claimed his first Yellow strike, whilst Little John had notched Reds 7th 7-3 then and time for some clever defensive game management

Except Reds defenders had little clue just what that entailed  At the last SHWFC Executive meeting Andy Man(anger) had declared he was keen to work to improve the general defensive expertise (or lack thereof) of the membership

In just 10 minutes from a position of relative security (and a 7-3 lead) Red somehow turned a healthy lead into a calamitous 8-7 defeat with Gonzalo plundering most of the goals

Little John ended on the wrong end of the score and with a sprained big toe for added personal cost

At this stage Lord Rainford, who has been known to be an uncompromising defender over the years, offers the following guidance

1 Passing back to a keeper is not a mortal sin Keeping possession denies the opposition the ball, without which they cannot score

2 Maguire passes to Stones, Stones passes to Maguire, Maguire passes to Stones etc etc Whilst this isn’t the most entertaining it is effective and can tease opponents into errors thus presenting opportunities to advance

3 Goalkeepers safest option is always to pass wide to a team mate Do not optimistically attempt to aimlessly hoof the ball down the middle of the pitch Unless you’re happy to concede possession and face the certain wrath of team mates and the back ache of picking the ball out of the net

4 Defenders should be calm and prepared to pass back to the keeper if necessary Passes driven along the sideline deep into the opponents half (Row Z) is another option if there is no team mate available as a way out

5 Finally, emphatically avoid attempting to back heel the ball Perhaps deep in the opponent’s final third is acceptable but only then if you must Disco Deggs, Huyton’s finest has learned to his cost over the course of several years that this flash trick is dangerous and usually costly Lord Rainford declares ‘I never thought I’d say this but, be like more like Disco Deggs, leave the tricks out’

Just Ain’t Good Enough* - Johnnie Taylor

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