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In And Out*

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

It was a fairly normal Tuesday morning for the officials and players of St Helens WFC, some nursing their aches and pains after an enjoyable session at Ruskin on Monday, others packing their bags for breaks in sunnier climes and bravely facing all the current flying hassles.

When, suddenly, the eagle eyes and sharp mind of Treasurer Alex ‘greasy thumbs’ Jackson sprang into action. “Hey comrades, we are on winter arrangements from this week at Sutton, one pitch indoors and one outdoors”.

Now, for those of you who have joined the club recently and contributed in no small measure to our growing success, a brief (very brief, honest) history lesson is needed. We’d always played indoors, but as numbers grew it was obvious that one indoor pitch at Sutton (max playing capacity 12 at a pinch) wasn’t enough. We didn’t want 10+ members waiting their turn for 10-minute games then switch around again. Council policy meant we couldn’t hire the whole hall and the desire for some players to keep an indoor option in the winter (old bones you see) meant we were in danger of having to disrupt our usual Wednesday evenings. But eventually we secured a deal with two pitches outdoors for 5 months, and 1 in 1 out from September to March. Bit of a compromise, but the best alternative available and part of the deal meant those bookings were now ours in perpetuity and renewable on an annual basis. Phew!

OK, back to the football. Coping with their absent mindedness that we had to change things, and welcoming new and old to the upstairs room at Sutton, t’Committee were able to quickly identify 10 volunteers for indoors, ably supervised by Coach John D. Lining up for the blues indoors were Chris G, Cockney Rebel, Lord Rainford, Joe the Ghost and Steve the Honeyman. Facing them in a selection of non-blue shirts were Les Meldrew, Andy Capp, Harry, Dave B and Nigel.

The game inside is subtly different. No shooting from outside the red line and the no rebounds rule can flummox those more used to ‘traditional’ indoor 5 a side. But the tight pitch puts a premium on close ball control (we didn’t play 3 touch) and honourable mentions must go to Les and Dave in this regard. But some things remain the same. Andy C provided his usual dominant showing, Lord Rainford had at least one ‘ ‘ave it’ moment; and Joe ghosted, notably when he found space on the far side from the corner to score from a Lord R corner to add the final goal to a 4-2 victory for the Blues.

It was a good enjoyable and sporting game indoors with even our demanding coach John D purring with delight at some of the football on display. Nigel put the non-blues in front after Lord R absent minded-abandoned his defensive duties. But blues soon turned that around as, collectively, their opponents then also forgot about defending and left first Steve and then Cockney R alone with only the goalkeeper to beat.

After our first break for much needed water (it does get hot indoors and you can’t open the doors as it sets the alarm off!) non-blues produced a fine move involving most of the team to enable Dave to coolly finish to even up the scores. But then enter the ghostly Joe, with another cool finish after some classy blues passing, and then the aforementioned goal from a corner.

A cracking reintroduction to indoor walking football for the winter (loose description when its only September but you know what I mean).

Meanwhile outdoors, 14 brave souls made it into Sutton’s AstroTurf casting nervous eyes up to the skies; but fortunately, the stormy conditions improved as the night went on.

Gonzalo put the troops through a warmup and then divided the teams into Blues and Reds; with Blues being Dave, Deano. Martyn, Dave M, Gaz, Norman and Daz and Reds comprising Gonzalo, Tom D, Eamon, Mike Ox, Jill, Chris, and Grav.

Colin kindly offered to officiate and decided to divide the Match into 3x15 minute periods with the first 15 ending 0-0. Sadly, the reds lost Jill early on with a calf injury, leaving the reds with 6 versus 7 blues. The Reds dug in deep and defended gallantly with the blues restricted to long range efforts and unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

In the 2nd 15-minute game ref Colin decided to mix things up, with Storming Norman switching sides to help out the embattled Reds. The change had an immediate impact, with the Reds taking advantage of the extra player to “storm” to a 3-0 lead with goals from Mike Ox and a brace from Gonzalo

The final 15 mins saw Norman move back to the blues. Once again, the impact was immediate. A well taken corner saw Deano fire home to make the score 3-1. The Reds were really under the cosh but battled well and Eamon grabbed a well worked 4th to round off the game.

There were notable performances from Eamon and Chris, with the latter clearly fired up from a superb performance on Monday, where, despite thinking he was snubbed in the blog (El Presidente assures us he is mentioned and referred to as Willow) he managed to score his first goal in walking football and save a penalty too. New boy Daz Sampson was equally impressive for the blues.

Back to Ruskin on Monday and our winter format of in and out again at Sutton next Wednesday. And as ever, you will be able to read all about it here (unless of course Chelsea make us a better offer !!)

(* Willie Hutch. A great funky Motown jam!)

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