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Heart Of Gold*

Updated: Feb 16

Back in January we contacted our friends from Burnley FC in the Community to see if there was a convenient opportunity to host a return fixture in St Helens Within a day, correspondence from British Heart Foundation arrived to ask for support during February to build awareness of the devastation heart disease can unleash on Families in this North West area

A cunning plan was hatched and next was an approach to Martin Fox and his crusading Club the Farnworth Foxes

Why not stage an event pitching our three Clubs plus our hosts Pilkingtons to combine some fund raising and a Walking Football session? The cooperation and support was brilliant ... Tuesday 13th February not just any old run of the mill Pancake Day but instead a festival of fun and Walking Football We were on to a winner before a ball was kicked!

Lord Rainford used his skill set to secure the venue from the Council's clutches Martin Powell of Farnworth Foxes arranged to set up a Just Giving page to gather donations Ex Premier League Referee, a long term friend of our Club, Chris Foy graciously agreed to come down to support the day

WFA International Referee Steve Pitt sacrificed his day and reputation by agreeing to officiate WFA Tournament qualified Referees Jeff Betty Birchall and Les Lomax (both of this parish) joining in as day's the Match Officials

Three Just Men keeping bodies and minds safe

Pilkingtons assembled a small and hideously expensive team to join in the event (albeit that on the day their squad was decimated by illness and late cry offs and in the end was populated by a number of SHWFC members

Finally and crucially El Presidente paid a large bribe to the weather Gods for good weather to prevail for the session (oddly all bets were off as the event finished) Rain and lots of it but not until we were counting our bruises and blessings

In short all boxes were ticked

Six teams were briefed on the session format Three pitches were employed for the games with a lusty blow of a whistle play got underway with the first round of games featuring;

Pilkington Masters (green) v Burnley Claret on Pitch A nearest to the grandstand

Pilkington eased to a 3-0 win thanks to some excellent teamwork with Les Meldrew leading the line and Wickie invoking the spirit of Beckenbaur to repel all attacks Steve Pitt kept a firm hand on proceedings and his game management helped to ensure play was fair and fun for all involved

On Pitch B under the quiet guidance of Herr Betty there was a close match between Farnworth White Foxes and St Helens Red Farnworth claimed a narrow 1-0 victory with their close 1-2 passing catching the eye Saints Mark Davies limped out of the game with a knock on his calf and played no further part in the day The injury robbing the Red of one of their most potent strikers for the duration

On Pitch C, with Les Lomax in charge a good contrast between Saints Blue and Burnley Black was settled by a solitary strike Black defending well and their keeper in top form

In Round 2 there was an epic encounter between Pilkingtons and Saints Red A nine goal thriller with the lead changing hands several times before Red claimed the 5-4 win to kick start their campaign Farnworth and Burnley Black was the tightest of contests with the Black defence holding out to grab a share of the points in a 0-0 tussle Saints Blue took care of Claret with a one sided score line 3-0, the match was feisty at times but Les kept it all in order

Red improved their record with a 1-0 win over Black, Red held in check after their last effort Black continuing to prove difficult to play against but lacking a cutting edge up front

Farnworth White returned to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 win over the Claret The guest appearance of Saints Greek contingent to help Claret numbers only confused all and sundry

Elsewhere Blue and Green served up a cracker with Green ahead only to concede late to level the game 1-1 the final score

By Round 4 the pattern of each game was becoming clearer Blue and White were very closely matched White ahead but failing to score enough to provide a comfortable cushion Blue carrying a goal threat throughout and scoring late to secure a 1-1 draw Meanwhile Red hit another 3 goals to defeat Claret, who were finding the going tough as the event progressed Green meanwhile found a way through the tight Black rearguard and won 1-0 to set up the final round of games with 4 teams in contention for the top spots

The final Round of games featured local derbies between Burnley Claret and Black with the 'home kit' striding to a three goal win The result was Claret first points of the day and the first time that Black had conceded more than one goal all day Familiarity?

The Saints Derby was a much closer affair Red under the cosh as Blue sought the goals to seal their path to the final play off berth The game ended in favour of Blue with a close 2-1 win

Going into the last game Farnworth White need a win to finish top but Green had played some very tidy football throughout In the end White ahead couldn't prevent Green hitting back to secure a draw 1-1 the final score

The upshot of all this meant that Blue with 11 points were top with Red and White each level on 9 points Red with more goals scored progressed to the Play Off Final A 15 minute match under the guidance of Les Lomax to decide who would take the day's honours

Inevitably the game was a close fought 0-0 draw which meant there would be a penalty shoot out Each side would take 3 penalties in turn before progressing to sudden death

In the end Blue prevailed with a solitary goal enough to seal the triumph

The weather Gods decided soon after that enough was enough and rain finally arrived to blight the return home travels It was a great event enjoyed by all and played with great competitive skill and enjoyment Our thanks to all who played their part in the Event The Just Giving total by close of play had exceeded £500 British Heart Foundation will utilise that to help their work Smile you've played your part ❤️❤️❤️

Heart Of Gold* - Neil Young (invoking the ancient hippy in us all)

There is still time to donate should you wish to join in

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