St Helens departure from this year’s WFA National Cup coincided with feverish national pride in the beautiful game with England and their march to the final of the Euro 2020. But the parallels between the 2 campaigns weren't lost on observers; our white shirts, fondness for passing square or back, pragmatic football and ability to rise above the expectations of popular press (OK its a Blog but we do like to self promote)
Coach John Davies who unquestionably had a mighty influence on Gareth Southgate‘s Euro campaign strategy beamed with delight as his Over 50s side took the initiative in the opening half of their Cup match Sterling performances by his charges kept the crowd on their feet throughout The lack of seating at the home of a Premier League outfit has been noted and will form a large part of our appeal in due course The much-vaunted youth policy did not achieve the desired result as a second half collapse heralded our exit at the first hurdle.
The 26 man squad‘s visit to high altitude training at Runcorn Ski Centre should have served as a warning of problems ahead when several players were sent home for breaking curfew protocols Senior players were left scratching heads as their younger colleagues left camp for home on the number 17 bus And so with the match day squad options reduced accordingly St Helens WFC went into media shutdown with local and National media excluded from the camp This reporter was granted exclusive access in the final hours of preparation Typically Davies was tight lipped about his starting line up and formation, electing to keep the opposition guessing about his plans The fact that he'd been away in the lead up and didn't have the details of those left to play could also have been a factor. There was a steely determination to make a quick start and apply pressure to the hosts questionable composure The training sessions in the ice chamber during the early weeks of the pre tournament boot camp (November) clearly had a positive affect on ageing limbs but could not alter the metabolic collapse that occurred in the match’s second half.
A word for our heroes- Gallant! The word however reflects a degree of plucky runner up or second best that frankly we did not deserve
Skipper Houghton rallied his troops with a Kane-like address (only without the slight speech impediment or cockney tone) Parr strode through his midfield berth like the mighty Galactico he has become Taylor led the line with his usual menace and scored a fine goal to give Saints the half time lead that was a fine reward for the performance and the supporting crew
Enquiries from overseas based Walking Football outfits have flooded in this week, happily our Chairman has reiterated “we are not a selling Club and have no wish to allow our key players to ply their trade elsewhere” Treasurer Jackson was all ears until he heard that last remark
Steve Forshaw put in a great shift when pressed into emergency action as stand in keeper. A day later Dave Barrow thrilled Thatto Heath with a string of fine saves in the Over 60s game. Monday’s game was too much too quick for our heroes, despite mighty work rate 3rd Space Bolton were given too much space as we departed the Cup at Fortress Ruskin
Martin Briggs was harshly Blue Carded for a side entry tackle, singled out for 2 minute exclusion despite repeated defensive infractions on Steve in his usual line leading role
The Referee conducting an explanatory commentary for much of the game was unsympathetic to our pleas for action for the repeated offending
Pitt was later heard to say I've never heard such miserable pleaders!
But undaunted it later emerged that several Bolton players had failed dope testing, positive for traces of Buckfast Tonic Wine extracts, to add to the controversy Everton Hub WFC admitted that several of their squad had failed the Harry's test - being unable to recognise the shaving razor brand in blind testing as these same players weren't old enough to have started shaving as we went to press. So much for the sporting integrity of other walking football outfits.
Where to next for The Old Saints? Not to be confused with Welsh Club The New Saints, we've no immediate plans for a run at the Europa Conference League though there was some talk of a piss up in Annan in the Scottish borders. Has the appetite for fierce encounters with other chaps been whetted or merely stirred? Davies is in no doubt - 'we need more competition for places against better opposition to improve, he declared before lapsing into 'take each game as it comes we've prepared well there's a buzz about the place blah blah'
So dear reader there you have it.... Perhaps we can learn from England and Sir Gareth ( a matter of time surely?) Beat Italy on Sunday and the Olde World is your lobster. Let's hope for the best and be prepared for a few playing through blinding headaches on Monday morning at Ruskin.
Reaching out, touching you, touching me!