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Walk this Way*

Wednesday’s Sutton Session set the first challenge to the feint hearted with temperatures acknowledging the approach of Autumn for the first time this year A lusty number still gathered to determine who was ‘in’ and who would be ‘out’ 30 players boosted by the late arrival of Sharon fresh from her trek from Runcorn ,

so 31 then plus El Presidente and injured Jill and Chris 4G In addition we had Margie join us to witness Walking Football in action for the first time

Margie was formerly Manager for some of our lady members and made an impression on proceedings in her own way More of that to come

Twelve players were reluctantly (will you be serious -Ed) selected to remain indoors the rump of the assembly made their way outside to the AstroTurf

So eager were they to play that the outdoor balls were left in the charge of the Remainers (get blamed for everything – BBC Official Policy) El Presidente was dispatched to retrieve said balls and eventually play got underway on the frozen tundra

Warmups were performed with determination by El Pres and later Gaz Clarkie and two 9-a-side Teams assembled as follows.

White – Thatto Dave, Chris Willo, Deano, Norman, Little John, Mike Ox, Jeff Betty, Haggis, Tom Derby and Sharon

Colours – Neil, Paul, Martin Mc, Michelle, Tom Stretch, Eamon, Clarkie, Mark Harrison on debut, and Dave Bates

So, 9 v 9 was now 10 v 9 Not that anyone seemed to mind – not something you could say at every session, but I digress Thanks to largesse of the players on an adjoining pitch play got quickly underway with a borrowed ball. The Colours raced into an early lead with Tom Stretch and Dave Bates firing two quick strikes, Deano struck a goal in reply for White and it was 2-1 with less than 3 minutes gone It would take another 50 minutes for another meaningful effort though there was no shortage of chances and near misses in period between Play was often frantic with El Presidente now restored to his Refereeing duties having to constantly remind ‘This is Walking Football – the clue is in the name’ One player would have been a Blue Card recipient on another day Mark on his debut struggled with the whole Walking concept Mark it transpired had endured major surgery with the removal of a lung He’d last played regular soccer in the not too distant past so his return to playing any form of the game must be admired He will learn and improve (and his knees will regain their skin in due course)

White held a high press line to box in the Colours defenders but Paul Porter (in possibly his best game to date) was calmness personified Neil put in a great shift and Michelle was a constant outlet for her team Martin Mc and Dave Bates battled to take control of the midfield while Clarkie and Tom Stretch used their big match experience to organise and encourage their team

The Colours absorbed all that White could muster and were under the cosh for long periods White were a threat with Deano, Chris Willo and Haggis working to create chances that troubled a succession of keepers But still no goals Thatto Dave did find the net with an aerial effort that was disallowed Mike Ox was prominent in the midfield aided by Sharon and Little John Jeff Betty showed some great touches in the White onslaught There was one particular contribution by Haggis that set up Deano to feed to an unmarked Chris Willo, however the effort sailed agonisingly wide Sharon had been thwarted by the outstretched Clarkie leg whilst Deano suffered a Llandudno fine for firing one effort off the playing arena over the Far End fencing (£2 fine payable to El Presidente Enterprises) With the score still 2-1 and just 2 minutes remaining Eamon slipped a free kick to Tom Stretch who moved the ball slightly wide to rifle home a strike that settled the outcome 3-1 and no time for White to find a way through the Colours rear guard The game was a tight affair, with Colours probably deserving their win

Too often play compacted into the middle of the pitch, but space was available usually in the wider areas The Referee had to be firm at times to ensure fair play Players really do need to think about their own game and slow down The chance to play competitive Walking Football will be a frustrating one because Referees will not tolerate running or wish to listen to explanations ‘that wasn’t running’ It was running the Referee just told you it was

Our burgeoning numbers meant that once again we were playing 6 a side which is the maximum that the Sports Hall can accommodate. Space is tight and that can be one reason things can get heated as they invariably did

The Blues were: Dave Babylon Gray, Lee Thommo, Steve the Honeyman, Joe the Ghost, Les Meldrew and the Cockney Rebel.

The Non-Blues were Andy Mgr., Liz, Phil the Power, Disco Deggs, Grav and Lord Rainford.

Les volunteered to both play and Referee but, watching from the side lines, Margie, originally in a watching brief decided this was not a clever idea and instead offered to step into the void. Such was the alacrity with which this offer was taken up, she was immediately presented with two whistles to assist her.

Non-blues immediately fell 2-0 down although no fault can be given to our newly appointed Mgr. in the nets. Non-Blues were taking time to sort themselves out and amidst all the “well, who is playing where?” before we knew it Steve and Les had taken advantage.

By the first water break non-Blues were back on level terms with Disco Deggs finding (for once) his shooting boots; and in the second period they took a lead with Huyton’s finest again and then Lord Rainford making the score 4-2. Non-Blues were now a well-oiled footballing machine with Andy and Liz controlling from the back and their teammates chipping in.

Liz had a strong game on her indoor debut and one point we could learn from her was her communication. It has often been said that one of SHWFC’s faults is the deafening silence on the pitch. Some put this down to natural reticence.

Others put it down to age, meaning many of us can’t always remember the names of our teammates. But whatever the cause, on occasion some sessions can resemble a football tournament held in a Trappist Monastery. Not so on Wednesday night.

Blues fought gamely back but an inability to remember the rules meant two penalties for encroachment, Deggs missing one and then scoring the second There was also a bizarre appeal to disallow a goal because the scorer was “inside the red line”. But that’s the whole point. Shots from OUTSIDE the red line were outlawed years ago to protect innocent goalkeepers from Billy Big Toe! And the appeal was from one of our longest serving members. I shall tactfully not dob him in it.

Back to our debut Ref’ Margie was not shy in hauling people up for running; and on occasions seemed to read our minds as people were whistled for even THINKING about running 😊. Those who’ve played in tournaments will know that strict interpretation is usually the norm.

Into the last knockings and Lee scored a well taken goal to reduce the deficit to 4-3 But then tragically scored as efficiently in his own net. The final goal was also a frustrating one for the Blues as Steve made the save, only for the ball to then roll agonisingly away from him and trickle into the net. Final score 6-3. A competitive evening, thankfully little or no dissent; and a great workout by all concerned.

Walk this Way* - Run-DMC (featuring Aerosmith) or Aerosmith (original)

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