WEST BROMWICH ALBION WALKING FOOTBALL FESTIVAL
Phil (defence), John (defence), Roger (midfield), Jim (striker), Billy (goalkeeper), Steve (sub striker), David (sub goalkeeper), Mick (midfielder) and Paul (manager)
Last week BWFC took two teams to West Bromwich Albions indoor training pitch to take part in a walking football festival, a disability team and an over 50’s team. It was the first time BWFC had entered a disability team into any kind of competitive arena and the first time the team had played together!
Other teams had players who were predominantly younger than our team and few with any outward signs of physical disability. Our team went into the games fearing that they were going to get beaten. However, they won all their games and only conceded 1 goal. Superior passing ability, guile, Captain Billy’s ‘geeing up’ from the back, Jim’s goal scoring prowess and ‘years and years’ of experience saw us through in all the games!
Manager Paul Murtagh commented;
“Although disability walking football is a relatively new concept this is an area we at BWFC want to develop and support in line with our clubs inclusion policy. Hopefully this type of festival will encourage others to try this new sport and open the game to as many people as possible.”
Over 50’s Team
In a turbulent day at West Bromwich, Birmingham’s Over 50’s came away with a successful day without conceding a goal. They started with two comprehensive 2-0 wins against Weston and WBA with a brace apiece from David Wright and Martin Evans. This was followed by a tight affair with Hartshill A where the deadlock could not be broken.
Local rivals Aston Villa were next up boasting former European Cup winner Des Bremner in their ranks. Two more from Wright ensured they were dispatched with some ease. Great work in the midfield from Kev Mann, Rod Thompson and John McGinnell provide the prolific Wright with numerous opportunities. Heath Underwood had had little to do in goal but made two excellent saves to deny the Villa forward line.
Their final fixture in the round robin saw them totally dominate possession as they beat Hartshill B 1-0 with yet another Wright goal. In the semi finals, the two Hartshill teams were to meet and Aston Villa were drawn against the unbeaten and seemingly impregnable Birmingham side. In the first minute David Castle fed Wright to once again slot home with a comprehensive finish. Villa then decided to try some spoiling / unsavoury tactics, running and physicality ensued as one of their forwards attempted to con the inexperienced official as he pretended to have received a head but following a clash with David Castle much to the amusement of the watching crowd and other players, as the laughter echoed off the surrounds a amazingly quick recovery helped him square up to the Birmingham defender, only for the tournament organisers to intervene.
The final was therefore between Birmingham and Hartshill B who triumphed in a penalty shootout in their semi final against their own A team.
In a day of continual surprises Hartshill’s Manager decided that his team did not want to play the final much to the amazement of both the organisers and Birmingham.
Player Manager David Castle said,
“It was a bit of a strange day. We had a team that had not played together before and we gelled well but for me Martin Evans was the stand out player, I’d never seen him play before and thought he was quality. The incident in the semi final was blown out of all proportion, there is no room for that sort of ridiculous behaviour in walking football. Personally I think he has watched too much television, he would have loved Sterling’s penalty decision last night! We were all genuinely surprised by Hartshill’s decision not to want to play the final. I felt sorry for Chris from West Brom, they had put on the event free of charge using a great facility and did a fantastic job, and it’s a bit of a snub to them more than anything and really confusing.”