Tuesday 6th February saw The Foundation host an Over 60’s Walking Football tournament in partnership with Welwyn Garden City Football Club.

Representing the Foundation were two sides made up of 16 gents from our sessions in Stevenage, Hertford, and Welwyn. Our  guests were Leyton Orient and Harvesters Walking Football Teams. Orient left London early doors and arrived nice and early to the Hern’s Lane Ground were they explored the facility and got changed into their infamous red shirts. Harvesters made the shorter trip along the A414 from St Albans, and joined our Stevenage participants on the 3G Astro for a pre-match warm up in what started off to be a cold winters morning.

All participants were called together prior to Kick-Off, where SFCF staff welcomed our guests to Herns Lane and talked through the mornings format aswell as the all-important rules to be played by – all very familiar rules for some of our players, who play in a National League once a month in Dagenham.

It was clear from KO that our intentions of a friendly, and relaxed fixture of games were thrown out of the window, when our referees had to stamp there mark on the game early doors to stop the running and contact. All 4 teams were out for the win and playing with an increased intensity to their usual mid-week Walking Football sessions.

Leyton Orient started out as the team to beat with two back to back wins. A well organised and experienced outfit, finely tuned to the concept of small sided games. Both Stevenage teams kept themselves in the mix with a great win in each of their opening two games, both picking up points against Harvesters. A wonder goal from Jonathan Sinfield and a brace of goals from Graham Parry for their respective teams proved to be the highlights in the opening fixtures. Harvesters played with great spirit, battled well, and were unfortunate in periods of the game, but were never outplayed by any stretch.

Both of our Stevenage sides met up in the last group game and it was a matter of whoever wins plays Orient in the final. No pressure. Stevenage FC Yellows stormed into an early 3-0 lead and looked to be running away the game, however Stevenage FC Whites pulled it back to 3-2, to set up a tense last few minutes in what turned out to be the game of the tournament with an inspiring fight back from the Whites - their brave efforts however weren’t quite enough.

The Final saw our Stevenage Yellows up against Orient. A pre-match team talk saw our side line up organised and with a game plan to stop a side that weren’t showing any signs of cracking. Another MOM performance, from Graham Parry, supported by strong displays from Albert Swinson, Richard Wallace, and our recruits from our Hertford session, saw Stevenage edge a terrific final game,1-0. Orient unlucky not to score on a number of occasions.

                                     

Unfortunately there was no medal ceremony or an open top bus parade around Welwyn. Instead all players shook hands, were congratulated by SFCF staff, and were treated to a well earnt lunch inside the Club House at Herns Lane.

A fantastic morning played in admirable spirit and a great advert for Walking Football. Karen Fisher, WGC Club Secretary greeted our players in the Club House and said “ Im so very happy with how the tournament went. Everyone seemed really happy and enjoyed the experience. We are delighted to have partnered up with Stevenage FC Foundation to run a very successful morning of Walking Football. We are excited at the prospect of hosting more events like this in the near future”

Ozzie Willis, Community Engagement Manager for SFCF Foundation saw the morning as another step forward for our Walking Football programme

It was great to get our Walking Footballers together from across three of our sessions….some had never met or even played together before. The bigger picture however, was that there were 35 men in their Over 60’s enjoying their football, and having fun in a competitive format. The feedback we received was over whelming and we can only look forward to hosting more events for our Walking Footballers in the near future.


Player of the Tournament: Graham Parry with a flurry of goals.

Goal of The Tournament: Jonathan Sinfield with a fine long range effort, driven into the top corner.