12 teams entered in the over 50’s category. Games were as follows in order of play for Stamford :-
Cropleys (mix of Boston players)
Swineshead (also Boston players)
All in all 5 games with the top 2 going through to semi finals whilst places 3/4 would contest the plate in a semi final/final format.
Apologies in advance but we neglected to get a team photo (didn’t have my sidekick there)
Players were :-
Robin Gosling (GK)
Gary Wildsmith (coach/manager/organiser/dogsbody/captain/subs collector/scribe)
Paul Edward Beard
The pitches were small and the goal areas were quite large so it was inevitable games were going to tight affairs with goals at a premium. Our later games looking the most difficult on paper.
Cropleys were tough to break down. Stamford had the majority of the ball and limited Cropleys to one or two shots at best. Our possession and shots didn’t equate to goals though. Paul Beard turning goalscorer from his defensive position giving us a 1-0 win.
The story continued in much the same vain for match 2. We had plenty of chances and Colin Barrett-Treen providing the winning goal in a well taken goal across the area from the corner area of the pitch.
The manager then decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and name 5 ‘forwards’ for the third match in an effort to secure a two goal advantage in case the latter games came down to goal difference. This didn’t go to plan as Sleaford (L1,D1 after 2 games) handed us our first defeat 3-1. Paul Archer scoring our consolation goal.
We knew two wins would still be enough to qualify in first or second place we managed to beat Swineshead 1-0 with a goal by Gary Wildsmith. This was an achievement in itself as this was their only defeat in the league part of the tournament.
Our last game saw us playing Wisbech knowing a win would suffice. Unfortunately despite our best efforts we were beaten 1-0. Wisbech ran out group winners with 4 wins and 1 draw. This left us with a nervous wait for the Sleaford v Swineshead result. We knew anything less than a win for Sleaford would see us qualify in second place. With our strong support Swineshead ground out a 0-0 draw.
The semi finals beckoned with a match against the other group winners - Norwich.
Norwich came out strongly and we were 2-0 before half the match had expired. Just as Norwich took a stranglehold a gritty performance and 2 goals from Gary Wildsmith saw us in extra time. We finished the game as the side looking more likely to score but neither side scored which meant penalties again. T
he teams were level after the first round of 3 penalties. 2-2. Sudden death saw a further 3 penalties for each side. A combination of saves and misses saw us just miss out 3-2 on the 6th penalty.
Wisbech went on to beat Nottingham Bramcote in the other semi final to set up a final against Norwich. Norwich won the final 1-0.
A good days football for us all. So close yet so far.