Undaunted by the global pandemic, over the weekend of 21st & 22nd August Stamford Strollers continued their series of late summer trips to foreign lands, when they travelled to the mysterious and exotic nation of Wales for the Wales Open Walking Football Cup.
Storming through the tight border security and customs the two squads were subjected to two very different weather fronts, with 60+ team donning flippers and aqualung to survive the incessant Welsh valley rain, whereas the 50+ squad found a different use for the team gazebo as they baked in the August sun.
All games were played on the new artificial surface at Caldicot Leisure Centre.
Squad: Jez Norris, Brian Dunkerley, Bill Whittle, Phil Hall, Glyn Williams, Andy Kingscott, Jez Hammant, Tim Marsden, Steve Adcock, Taff Lovesey (manager)
The 60+ lads were up first, playing their games on Saturday 21st. Disappointingly team withdrawals had seen the schedule drop from the promised 8 games, to just five matches. A long way to go for the ten-man squad to share 75 minutes of football and giving manager Taff Lovesey a bit of a headache trying to share the field time around.
The squad itself had a great day despite these challenges and played some excellent passing football, going through their group games undefeated and qualifying for the semi-finals.
Group B 60+ Results:
· D 1-1 v Wiltshire WF (Phil Hall)
· W 1-0 v Cirencester (Jez Hammant)
· W 3-0 v Abercynon (Jez Norris x 3)
· D 0-0 v Caldicot
· W 3-0 v Cardiff (Jez Norris, Steve Adcock (x2)
After a strong performance in the group stage our confidence was high going into the semi final against Cove. Sadly, we never got going and we were not helped by having 3 players on yellow card warning before the half time point. This meant we had to change things around and be extremely cautious.
The side continued to compete in a very tight game but fell behind to a controversial penalty, given for one of our defenders jumping over the corner of the keeper’s area (but not stepping in it). This was put away well by the Cove player and soon after another well taken goal took it to 2-0.
The lads dug in, but Cove were in control from that point and went into the final deservedly (which they won on penalties against Caldicot).
Semi-Final: Cove 2 - 0 Stamford Strollers
Squad: Chris Williams, Phil Hall, Colin Barrett-Treen, Ian Baxter, Glyn Williams, Grahame Robinson, Tim Marsden, Robin Gosling, Brian Dunkerley, Taff Lovesey (manager)
Sunday 22nd saw the turn of our 50+ squad. With just five 50+ players signing up for the tournament, the squad were helped by five of the 60+ team staying overnight and joining their ranks. Given the uncertainties we had at times in the lead up it was good to see that we were able to get a full 10-man squad together as all were needed as we faced a league of 9 teams (8 games) in hot temperatures, and against some very stiff opposition.
Although the squad did not make it out of the group, we can say we were our own enemy at times as we mixed up some excellent passing football with a smattering of silly errors which cost us points in a few games. No more so than in games 7 and 8 when we conceded with almost the last kick of the game in both, costing us 1pt in one and all three in the other when Caldicot scored two in the last minute.
Even so we racked up a good number of points with two wins, one draw and five defeats. Finishing midway in the table.
Group A 50+ Results
· W 1-0 v Port Talbot (Grahame Robinson)
· D 1-1 v Barry (Phil Hall)
· L 1-4 v Shrewsbury (Grahame Robinson)
· L 0-1 v Llandarcy
· W 1-0 v Merthyr Police (Chris Williams)
· L 0-2 v Carmarthen
· L 1-2 v Caldicot (Colin Barrett-Treen)
· L 1-0 v Keynsham