Ken Barrie’s cheery little ditty (slightly adapted) introduces our report of SHWFC’s Over 65’s triumph 1-0 on Monday over Neston Nomads in the 2nd round of the WFA Cup; and you will discover the reason why later! Our thanks today to Lord Rainford who penned this report despite being under the influence of celebratory Sanatogen
SHWFC’s squad included El Presidente for the first time, but also Tom ‘Stretch’ Parr (who has now appeared in all 3 age categories in the Cup this season), Allan Maldon, Tony ‘Snakehips’ Byrne, Citeh Geoff Painter, Colin ‘the late’ Williams, Steve the Honeyman, Les Meldrew, and doughty net-minder Thatto Heath Dave Barrow. El Presidente’s presence on the pitch meant management duties fell to Andy Capt., (rousing motivational speeches) and Lord Rainford (statistical analysis & worrying). SHWFC bravely donned their Club white shirts, hoping to break their Cup white kit hoodoo.
Our opponents lined up in a classy claret and blue strip (lovers of old school kits including Blackburn Rovers fans may disagree...) with Alex Huntriss in goal; Steve Jardine, Chris Brennan, Elwyn Parry, Graham Nolan, Joe Ogden and Peter Barton. The match was overseen by Les Lomax, who impressed all with his firm but fair reading and control of the match.
The recent hard to take loss of our Over 60’s to Brunswick OB, when SHWFC were guilty of an acute attack of cows-backside-barn-door-itis, meant an instruction to ‘shoot on sight’. Those not playing at the back in the starting line-up – Tom, Allan and Colin; took this to heart and worked keeper Huntriss as much as they could. A tactical change then followed with the Honeyman on for Colin – who was on a warning for 'running'. Andy Capt., and Lord R cunningly hoped that when Colin was reintroduced later the Ref might have forgotten! Steve presented a different challenge to the Neston defence with more hold up play; and it was from one such attack that Saints nearly took the lead with a free kick played back from Allan to Tom, who made the far post judder with a powerful shot.
Possession stats must have been nearly equal; but Saints were proving far more penetrative even if the goal wouldn’t come In contrast Neston were finding it hard to break the defensive shackles provided by Citeh Geoff and El Presidente; with only one shot after a fortunate bounce troubling Thatto Heath Dave.
Eventually another change followed for St Helens with Les having to replace Allan who got an (accidental) knock to the ribs, the ball sportingly played back to our keeper by Neston. Half time followed with St Helens having nothing (again – 3rd match in a row!) to show for their dominance; but – as Andy Capt. said - “just keep doing the same thing – it’ll happen”.
Unfortunately, Tom Stretch took this instruction to do the same thing again all too literally; as he then proceeded to hit the post TWICE more in a dynamic performance. Our twin managers took some more tactical decisions with Snakehips replacing Steve to try and stretch Neston out more on the wings; and then Colin back on (had the referee forgotten ??) for Les to change the attacking style again; and finally El Presidente – who had worked his socks off – being replaced by Allan who was instructed to ‘win it’ by Andy, with tireless Post-man Tom dropping deeper.
And win it he did! Learning from his first half indiscretions Colin played much more measuredly, covering back when needed and slipping a perfect pass to Allan whose shot beat the Neston goalkeeper to nestle in the far corner. Cue delirium on the side-lines and a frantic watch check. How long left? Panic, panic.
Actually, more time than we hoped; about 8 minutes. But panic there was not. It’s true that the mighty Whites pressed less but the concentration at the back stayed focused and Allan in particular provided a master class in game management and possession. Even if his pass back to the keeper from a corner might have upset the purists, the management double act on the touchline coo-ed with pleasure.
Eventually Mr Lomax blew for full time with much joyous bonding amongst the St Helens Massive; and, let’s not forget them, applause and our respect for worthy opponents. They, I gather, hadn’t even realised they’d been entered for the over 65’s until we contacted them about arrangements for the match. However, in the true spirit of Walking Football they responded and gave us a good game, which we hope to repeat with a friendly in the future.
And so, the White shirt St Helens hoodoo was broken; with all of our squad playing a significant part in our victory. But think on readers. So far in the Cup games we’ve lost to Blackpool and Brunswick; but beaten Northwich and Neston. Can you see a pattern here????? We look forward to a testing encounter with Nantwich (if they have a qualifying team) or Knutsford (but not Blackburn surely?)
Fantastic support for the team from members who ventured to watch
Postman Parr Postman Parr* - Ken Barrie
“Post-Man Parr, Post-man Parr
“The only thing he missed was the bar”