Alicante Adventure 9TH – 12TH May 2016
Back row: Brendan Glynn, Ken Scott, Steve Huxley, John Limbourne, Rick Falcon
Front row: Bill Pears, Alan Guest, Sue Thomas, Jim Finucane, Del Whitmore, Alan George
BEECHCROFT ON TOUR
A group of 11 from Beechcroft Multisports Club were invited to take part in a Walking Football tournament in Los Montesinos (near Alicante), Spain in May this year. There were no restrictions on who could take part – it was literally whoever was available on the dates. The squad ended up being a little unbalanced – no goalkeeper for starters and a slight excess of defenders but we’re nothing if not adaptable and a system was developed to give everyone game time in positions they were (sort-of) suited to. The other teams taking part were Mansfield Senior Reds, Monte Mentals, Moraira and Al Gorfa. The latter three clubs were based in Spain and made up of ex-pats.
On our first game day, we arrived early – our first match was scheduled to start at 10.35 but we wanted to check out the opposition and get a look at the ‘local’ rules in operation. These came as a bit of a shock – especially with regard to goalkeeping! No exclusive area for the keeper, bigger goals than we’re used to and keeper can run! If fact, not much difference from ‘normal’ football. We were extremely pleased to have Steve ‘volunteer’ to be goalie. I don’t think anyone else would’ve survived throwing themselves around like he did to keep us in some of the games that followed. Billy deputized for him in one game and did really well too! The local waist height rule wasn’t a problem but only shooting at goal from within the final third was harder to get used to. There also appeared to be quite a lot of running going on!
We selected our first starting line-up to face Moraira and off we went. Steve in goal, Rick, Del and Billy at the back, Brendan and Ken in midfield and John up front although everyone got some time on the pitch during the course of the match. We started off well, keeping it tight but eventually lost out by 3 – 1. Beechcroft’s goal from Alan Guest! Our second game was against Mansfield Senior Reds. Mansfield kicked up through the gears and before we knew it we were on the wrong side of a 5 – 0 defeat. Their centre forward – a big, strong, young (in comparison to the rest of us at 51) ex-police officer certainly wasn’t mucking about. Only slight consolation was that he did it to everyone. He scored 30 goals over the tournament, only coming off in the last game after hitting his self-imposed scoring target.
Our final match of day 1 was against our hosts, Monte Mentals. This was much closer, finishing as a 2 – 2 draw with both goals from John Limbourne. The day finished with us third overall – we even got a trophy – and everyone in the squad got to play a part.
That evening, we enjoyed a 3-course meal with the rest of the teams and some of their wives and partners at a local restaurant. The food was excellent and there was plenty of liquid refreshment too! It was a thoroughly enjoyable night to end a very busy, tiring but fun day.
Day 2 dawned on surprisingly few thick heads. We enjoyed breakfast at a local café and then walked to the sports ground. New tactics were agreed upon to try and counter the threat from Mansfield, our first opponents of the day – a back four with two midfield/forwards – and it worked … for a while! Our squad was already depleted – John was on the plane home after his holiday ended, leaving us decidedly short up front but we gave it our best shot. Needless to say, Mansfield did their thing and we lost but by a much smaller margin – 3 – 0. The other two games were much closer however. A 1 – 1 draw against Monte Mentals (goal from Jim Finucane) and a close-fought 3 – 2 defeat in the final game to Al Gorfa with goals from Alan George and Alan Guest. The worrying thing was the number of injuries we were picking up however – Del’s knee was swollen, Steve’s calf injury had been aggravated and Alan Guest was struggling with muscle strains. Thankfully, Billy was on hand with his physio skills and we survived. Then it was back to the hotel (via a local bar) for showers and a rest before meeting to have a meal together in the evening. Liquid refreshments were also enjoyed by all (thanks to John Limbourne for subsidizing this)!
Day 3 and breakfast was followed by the long trek to the sports ground. We really needed Bill’s help to even get a team on the pitch. Del was out with a badly swollen knee and everyone else was tired and aching after playing 6 games over the previous two days. Our first game was against Mansfield and again, we went with the 4 2 0 option to try and contain them. The first half saw us go 3 – 0 down but we rallied to hold them to only one further goal in the second half and managed to score ourselves, thanks to Alan George. However, we did pick up another couple of injuries with Ken and Rick suffering hamstring strains. Billy went to work however and a patched-up team went into the fray for our final match against Monte Mentals. And we won it! 3 – 2 with goals from Jim Finucane and two from Brendan. (I’m convinced we wouldn’t have gotten Brendan off the pitch if he hadn’t scored!) A great result to finish off the tournament then it was a quick trip back to the hotel for showers and to finish packing before being picked up by coach for our final lunch with everyone before departing for home.
Our final lunch was at a restaurant in Torrevieja – three courses with drinks provided and another excellent meal. It was unfortunate that we were unable to fully relax and enjoy this as we had to get to the bus station by 3.00pm for our airport shuttle. However, some of the Monte Mentals team provided lifts for us so we were there in plenty of time to catch the bus and our subsequent flight home.
All in all, we had a great time. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and I’m sure we’d all love to do it again next year if invited. Rumour has it, it will be an over 60’s next year which will be a much more evenly balanced tournament.