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Forty Licks*

Ah those hazy days of summer! The summer of ‘97 specifically, the heat of summer nights and fantastic football by the world’s elite teams Le Tournoi played as a test of stadia and excuse for FIFA to coin it in (nothing new there then) Brazil playing great football, who remembers that Roberts Carlos free kick? I could go (and usually do)

Fast forward to Spring 2023 and SHWFC’s own version featuring the cream of Walking Football talent in their glorious version of Le Tournoi

Wednesday night featured the second game in Pool B with the Over 40s taking on last week’s victorious Over 50s and what a cracker it turned out to be!

The weather was exceptionally poor with a blustery wind sweeping down the pitch from the Far End accompanied by squally rain At times it was diabolical, most of the time it was lashing down

Referee for the tie was Martin Chopper Williams who later admitted that he struggled to see at times (explains at least some of it) with rain affecting his spectacles Where are those wiper blades specs from JML when you need them (£14.99 available from Asda, Willo and Robert Dyas etc)?

The teams were

Over 50s (Yellow) - Michelle, Eileen, Sharon, Willo, Roger, Joe the Ghost, Amazon Prime, Darron and Lee Thomo

Over 40s (Blue) - Haggis, Paul Steiger (Rod), Chris 4G, Neil Stretch, Deggs, Dave Martland, Gonzalo and Neil coach

The opening stanza featured a decent passing phase of action for the Over 40s until Gonzalo spotted an opportunity to test the Yellow keeper from half way The ball fizzed across the surface and settled in the bottom corner 1-0 to Blue Playing into the weather the 40s passed with great purpose and soon exposed the defensive 50s frailties with Dave Martland calmly slotting a second goal in just 4 minutes. Lee Thomo hit a scorching shot for the 50s but found only the side netting 40s keeper Neil coach Owens produced a couple of saves for the back pages, sadly no photographer had ventured out to record these gems

Joe ghosted in to expose a rare defensive lapse by the 40s back line 2-1 to the Youth Deggs was on hand to fire home a Blue third goal before the first Substitution window 3-1 to the 40s

The enforced changes did allow the 50s a period on the ascendancy but a combination of good defending, Neil Stretch especially to the forefront, good keeping and wasteful shooting meant 50s remained off the pace Haggis then produced his now trade mark piece of magic, hitting a rising shot that Roger palmed over his head and into the net Good to see Roger and Eileen back in our sunny shores (it is our Spring here in UK unlike Autumn in NZ) 4-1 to the 40s Chris 4G a substitution window new arrival swarmed through a gap in the Yellow rearguard to strike another Blue goal 5-1 Could we have a shock on our hands?

Joe hadn’t read the script and finished in his usual calm manner to draw Yellow back to 5-2 Half time came and went with little change

The final 13 minutes and the final substitution window brought Gonzalo back into the fray Amazon Prime and Darron threatened to stage a powerful comeback but Paul Steiger, Jeff Betty and Gonzalo more than matched their endeavors

In goal, with Neil coach now on the sidelines, Chris 4G produced a calm authority with some good blocks and excellent distribution Deggs foraged on the wing or as lone striker linked with Gonzalo to seal the win 6-2 and no way back for the Yellow

Paul Steiger claimed a late goal again the link up play too much for the Yellow 7-2 and a great display of organisation and passing Michelle and Sharon laboured in midfield with the latter going close in the final couple of minutes Chopper eventually found his whistle to end the contest

Elsewhere the ‘ancillary’ fixture featured

Neon - Phil the Power, Harry the Hatchet, Kenny, Enoch, Little John, Eamon, Citeh Geoff and Roy Fielding

Orange - Grav, Tom Stretch, Tom Derby, Lord Rainford, Les Meldrew, Barry and Phil Holland (Lamont still unavailable) and Andy Man(anger)

The game had a slow start (our Cub Reporter V. Meldrew reports) with the Holland family missing in action A further delay ensued with one of said Holland Bros citing colour blindness as a potential issue Orange swiftly peeled off their bibs to become, imaginatively the Colours

Eamon found the net to punish a poor Colours back pass 1-0 to Neon

There was a long period with both sides creating and squandering chances Grav forced an equaliser following a smart side line kick in (at this point there is no verification that Meldrew V had taken this sharp restart) but the sides were level with all to play for in the remaining period

There was a claim for a Tom Stretch winner, but it was correctly ruled out as the aforementioned had called for the ball without shouting a name A warning for this very infraction had been issued just the week before when Lord Rainford had his Butler shout OK (leave the ball to me my good man - he didn’t say but probably meant) Always call a name when you’re addressing a team mate is the golden rule!

We have had reports of running violations and robust tackling A reminder that the game is of course Walking Football and is a non contact sport In the conditions and with no official Referee things can become testing but we do need to remind all players that we play at our ever-increasing age a brand of football designed with safety firmly first The thought of a 40+ crashing into a 70+ individual is too scary to contemplate in a Family blog

We will be reminding all members of their Code of Conduct undertaking

For now let’s enjoy the thrill of competition the delight of still being able to play the beautiful game (our version) Same again next week Go on then in calmer waters hopefully

Forty Licks* - Rolling Stones Album released in 2002 to mark 40 year career of the band

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