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Hello Stranger*

Our thanks to Lord Rainford who had his Butler whip up this Blog. Cheque is in the post M'Lord

A happy reunion took place for St Helens WFC players at Ruskin on Monday when we welcomed back not 1 but 2 regulars after long absences from injury/being away etc. Both Jeff Betty Birchall and Martin 'Chopper' Williams were back and were greeted by all and sundry.

Now of course at St Helens WFC we don't have strangers, just friends we haven't tackled from behind yet. So it was also great to welcome debutant Kirsty; and last week's debutant Margaret back for more (hmm.. another soul song there….I'll save that for another blog).

Andy Capt., got us all to warm up and then Les divided us up into two teams as follows, with Tom Stretch deciding his hamstring wasn't all it should be, so volunteering to referee (brave man!)

Purple: Andy Capt., Cockney Rebel, 'Nita, Steve Honeyman, Kirsty, Tony Snakehips, Phil the Power, Citeh Geoff and Chopper

Yellow: Tony K, Mike Norman Bates, Lord Rainford, Sheila, Mags, Donal, Mark (completely unrelated) Davies, Les Meldrew and Jeff Betty

The first half was an even affair with some good (if at times speedy!) walking football. Steve was a robust target man for Purple with Phil, Tony and Andy trying to feed off his knockdowns. Chopper slotted into his usual right back position like he'd never been away, keeping it tight with Citeh Geoff and re-establishing his partnership with 'Neet down that flank. So Yellows had their work cut out with Norman, Jeff B and Les having to block mightily at times. Lord R needed to find Row Z at least once and also attracted the disapproval of Umpire Parr on occasions, who, apart from this outrageous victimisation, was mostly adopted the laissez-faire approach to refereeing.

It was a bit against the run of play when Yellows took the lead when some clever close passing involving Mags, Tony and Donal involved setting up Mark for the first goal.

Now, up to this point debutant Kirsty had been watching from the sidelines but having - understandably - seeing nothing to cause her any great concern, she came on to much applause to aid Purple's cause. And so we had another first for SHWFC, our first amputee player. Kirsty has a prosthetic right foot and lower leg; and as she is right footed is having to relearn after an earlier career for Everton Women.

Not this seemed to phase her as she added to the Purple pressure which eventually led to an equaliser when The Honeyman pounced on a loose pass from the Yellows keeper.

Surprisingly, Yellows were able to retake the lead before Tom blew the half time whistle with Norman finishing off after his team mates were able to escape from the Purple press.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first with much Purple pressure with occasional Yellow break outs. But thanks to the efforts of post, bar and goalies Norman, Sheila and Tony K (not all at the same time obvs.) the Yellow Goal led a charmed life. The game got a bit more robust which awoke referee Tom from his mid-morning slumbers with the awarding of numerous free kicks around the Yellow goal. But time and again Purples were thwarted by blocks, saves, woodwork and interceptions.

Yellows finally settled the match with about 2 minutes to go when Les was able to finish from a tight angle past Chopper, and although Andy, Phil et al continued to apply pressure Yellows stood firm and finished 3-1 winners in a very even game.

Well done to all players old and new, and despite the comments herein, our volunteer Ref, Tom. As any of us who've tried it would know it's not an easy job and - truth be told - I think the speed and physicality at times would have had a more experienced referee getting whistler's tongue (or whatever referees get when they blow their whistle too often!)

And finally, to the Slipper Bar (aka Sticky Wicket) for a match post-mortem, a selection of beverages and birthday cake courtesy of returnee Chopper (who is now eligible for the over 50s, lucky lad!). The chocolate lettered squares provided lots of innocent fun for us as we made up words from the increasingly diminishing supply of cake. And I am pleased to say that, surprisingly, most suggested words were quite clean. Although I think it is quite difficult to make too many rude words from 'Happy Birthday'

Hello Stranger* Barbara Lewis

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