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Running Away*

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

After a few SHWFC sessions free of perambulatory controversy, the title of this Monday’s blog will give you the hint that the running question returned at Ruskin this week. Not enough to spoil everybody’s enjoyment; but enough to cause one or two raised voices and complaints during an – as usual – competitive and (mostly) sporting session.

Now, let’s be honest here. Running in walking football: -

a) We have (almost) all done it

b) Most of the time we don’t know we are doing it

c) Instances of consciously choosing to run are, I believe, pretty minimal; and

d) running is in the eye of the beholder. Some cases are obvious, but there is a real grey area between an obvious run and an equally obvious amble where any two people may disagree on whether it is a run or not.

Now, if we had referees for each match at each session, we would at least have someone in whose judgment we must respect…. even if we do disagree with it. And if you do disagree with it, a sad shaking of the head and silent gritting of the teeth must be enough. None of the sort of moaning that should have been left behind in the primary school playground, please. Walking Football may – in part – be a chance for us to relive our youths…. but there are limits.

So, when we don’t have a ref? All we can do is try and remember the four points above; and if someone calls you out; are you SURE you weren’t running? The more people who accept shouts of ‘running’ from their opponents, the more everyone else will be willing to accept such calls.

Yea, I know! Nirvana; right??

Now, where was I? Oh right, the football. It was a bumper turnout at Ruskin on Monday with – I think – a record number of players, 34 – giving us 2 teams of 9 and two of 8. Pictures of our competitors are - as usual – accompanying this blog, but here are the line ups (I’ve tried to follow left to right the photos, so you can put names to faces!): -

Pink: Les ‘Meldrew/Goalhanger’ Brack, Jeff (I’m shy) Bettye, Lord Rainford, Eamon, Chris W, John Pender, Sheila, Dave P and Daz

Green: Julie, Tom Derby, Donal, Gaz, Dave Seagull, debutant Eileen, John Pidgeon and Tony K,

Black: Robin, Phil the Power, Mags, Anita, MikeA, Cockney Rebel, Mark ‘unrelated’ Davies and Colin ‘welcome back after injury’ Philips.

Purple: Steve E, Charlie, Andy Powell, Liz, Andy Man., Jill, Tom ‘stretch’ Parr, Citeh Geoff and Tony ‘snakehips’ Byrne

And now for the bald (see also the heads of numerous participants) statistical facts: -

Round 1

Green 1 v 0 Pink (Donal)

Black 0 v 0 Purple

Round 2

Purple 0 v 2 Pink (Dave P, Eamon)

Green 0 v 0 Black

Round 3

Pink 3 v 2 Black (Eamon, Lord R, Daz : Cockney rebel, Colin)

Green 1 v 2 Purple (Tom Derby : Tom Stretch Parr 2)

Which I think gives the following outcome: -

In the 1st session Blacks and Purples on the far pitch played the sort of match which was so memorable, that no-one was able to tell your reporter anything about it! Honours even, no-one troubling the goal statisticians.

Overseen by ref Chopper Greens and Pinks played a really tight match with chances at both ends, finally settled with a Donal goal, set up by his striking partner Tom D after a loose pass in their own half by Pinks had given away possession. Eileen soon got used to the play and had an excellent debut linking up with John P on the left. For the Pinks Daz probably did one too many dummies but he and John P in particular were unlucky that none of their moves got Pinks at least a point.

Round 2 and Greens now fell under the somnambulant spell of Blacks who recorded their second successive 0-0 draw. Pinks thought they had something to prove after their narrow loss and put the Purples to the sword despite the valiant efforts of a bronchitis-recovering Anita in nets. They didn’t have it all their own way though as Charlie (improving every week) made his robust presence felt and Liz and Tom combined well but could not make any of their openings count.

Into the final round and Purples finally got the win their morning’s play deserved. Inevitably it was the long legs of Tom ‘Stretch’ Parr against Greens who did the damage. This, even with Les’s transfer from Pinks to cover for a be-hamstringed Donal, meant Greens couldn’t go undefeated throughout the morning. But one sublime turn from Julie which left an anonymous Purples player on his (I think it was a guy!) on his back will live long in the memory.

But the real humdinger to end the morning was Blacks v Pink. The lead changed hands 3 times, with Pinks going 1 up, 2-1 down and then finally hanging on for a 3-2 win. This yo-yoing meant at various times during the last twenty minutes any of the 4 teams were top of the table. It was in this game that there was probably the most calls of ‘running’ which probably shows how tight and competitive it was. Eamon had an easy chance to put Pinks 1 up, but then with a clinical finish from Cockney R and an excellent low cross from Mags giving Colin the chance for a cool finish, Blacks were back in front. With Jill in her pomp, MikeA always competitive at the back and Phil his usual strong self would that be it? No. Daz decided he needed to put his mark on the game and first put Lord R in for a side-foot finish to equalise, then, after an Eamon goal disallowed for running (see what I mean?) settled it himself with the final goal leaving Pinks narrow winners and table toppers.

There were any number of candidates for Andy Man’s player of the session, but he has decided to award this Monday’s laurel leaf to Jill for her performances across the whole hour; a decision which no-one was there will dispute.

Looking back on it I suspect that the numbers playing, leading to quite congested pitches, may itself have contributed to the quickness of play and therefore more calls of ‘running’. You have less time on the ball, you need to close someone down, you need to make that interception. But having a lot of people down is a nice problem to have, particularly for a founder member like me who can remember the days when we struggled to make 3 a side in our original home at the Beacon! As long as we can remember our sporting philosophy and the points made at the top of this blog, we’ll be reet!

(* Roy Ayers. A jazz – funk classic! Check out the instrumental break and vibes in the middle. Di-be-do-run-run-run !!)

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