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Eyes On The Prize*

Easter is usually a time for Families, Bank Holiday sport and chocolate egg indulgence SHWFC decided that it would be inappropriate to persuade its members to selfishly give up their precious time for a normal Monday morning shuffle Instead we launched our much vaunted and anticipated internal tournament Le Tournoi

Members split into two pools to represent their Age groups Monday’s first game in Pool A (and indeed anywhere) pitted our Over 60s against our seasoned cup campaigners the Over 65s

SHWFC Ladies will join the Pool as their injury crisis ends but Pool A looks a very strong competition

The teams were;

Over 65 Greens - Donal, Kenny, Eamon, Harry the Hatchet, Paul, Citeh Geoff, Tom Stretch, Mika and Little John

Over 60 Orange - Tony K, Clint, Chris K, Tony S, Enoch, Les, Mark NR, Andy Man(anger) and Phil the Power

Referee Mr Jeff Betty Birchall

Scoring two early goals put the 65s in a strong position, Kenny Nolan claimed the first of the whole event with Donal powering a second soon after, Chris Kelsall reduced the arrears for the 60s before Paul Jennings restored the two goal cushion

The 60s were often guilty of giving the ball away in dangerous areas The desire to strike killer balls must be eradicated from the defensive minded Keep clearances simple, keep possession and keep the opposition at bay works every time The desire to pass across your own defences has to be struck from the repertoire

There was time for a hypnotic snake-hipped strike as Tony defied time and the Over 65s (that irony not lost on the selectors) to make it 3-2 But Kenny Nolan found space to finish the contest with the Over 65s claiming a 4-2 win and the competition’s first three points

There was another game for those not involved in the Tournoi match with some fine football and the almost inevitable moment of controversy

Purple - Amazon Prime, Sharon, Daz, Michelle Berry, Sheila and Walter

Sky - Lord Rainford, Chopper, Walter, Phil Moss, Grazer, Jane and Willo

Purple settled into a pressing game which paid dividends Goals by Phil Moss (who was effective as a striker in the early stages) and Daz put Sky 2 goals behind and struggling to break a stranglehold on field position

El Presidente made an executive decision to help balance the side’s energy levels with Dave Amazon Prime switching at the break with Scottish hitman Harrison Haggis Lovell

There was a needless verbal exchange featuring Daz and Jane which resulted in both receiving a Blue Card and spell on the naughty step Both later apologised and returned to play out the time remaining

John Walter Pidgeon hit back for Sky 2-1 and as the Tournoi game ended all focus switched to the remaining minutes left in the Sky and Purple game Pressure on the Purple goal saw Chris Willo score an equaliser with just 2 minutes left

Play ended with Sky defending with greater purpose 2-2 the final score Some excellent football at times in a game also littered with silly mistakes and sillier outbursts Funny old game

One boost to all members was the return of Margaret Mills, who has endured some health issues this year but happily now seems to be on the mend Good to see her back with us Ruskin once more

Wednesday’s Pool B game was a classic Whiston with a number of players away were replaced by a Over 60s B team The same fate overcame the Over 40s team with key players unavailable

So the Over 50s played a very competitive Over 60s B outfit

The teams were;

Over 50 White - Lee Thomo, Carl Corcoran, Steve C, Pat Kirk, Michelle Stunning, Darron, Chopper, Amazon Prime and Willo

Over 60 B Orange - Lord Rainford, Phil Doyle, Dave Bates, Tom Derby, Barry Holland, Phil Holland (Lamont Dozier was unavailable to complete the Hitsville song writing team), Roy Fielding, Chris Carson and Grav

One of the aspects of this type of game that needs carefully managing is the substitution order Every 13 minutes there’s an enforced change of personnel within the 9 player group Six start then 3 are replaced A further round of changes are made after another 13 minutes A side can elect to start with a strong side, make changes that bring fresh energy into play or elect to finish with its strongest available line up Some players were all action for the first period or even first two periods, but had to make way in the final period for team mates As the competition intensifies it will be interesting to see which team can manage their playing resources in the most effective manner

Back to the action

The Over 50s swarmed all over their opponents but could only produce one goal from the penalty spot by Darron to show for their efforts In the second third of the tie Grav was introduced by the Over 60s with great effect In almost their first venture into 50s territory Grav found space to fire home Minutes later he claimed a second goal to give the 60s a surprise lead 2-1 Michelle’s stunning intervention in the middle of the park created an equaliser finished in fine style by Carl

After half time the 60s regained the lead with Roy Fielding firing home 3-2 to the 60s Michelle lived up to her ‘stunning’ nickname with a series of great keeping saves to hold the 60s at bay

The 50s quick thinking punished some sloppy defending Darron rolled a free kick through a static defence from a free kick to give Carl the easiest of chances that he converted to level the scores 3-3

Darron claimed his brace and with it the game, moving the ball out of his feet to carve some space and a drive into the bottom left corner 4-3

Michelle defied the 60s at the death to preserve her side’s slender lead

Referee Betty led a chorus of appreciation for the sporting spirit shown by all Hand shakes all round and general agreement the game could have gone either way Over 50s claiming the victory to lead Pool B

We look forward to eating too much chocolate, grumbling about dodgy sporting decisions and the next fixtures in Le Tournoi

Eyes On The Prize* - Bruce Springsteen (album The Seeger Sessions)

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