FC United Tournament – How Not To Qualify
The FC United Tournament remains a mystery for the Vintage Celtic players. How could a team who were considered favourites and were unbeaten and only conceded one goal fail to qualify for the semi-finals?
Let’s try and explain. There were 13 teams who entered the FC United Tournament. It consisted of 4 divisions with 3 teams in 3 divisions and 4 teams in 1 division. With the winners of each division going through to the semi-finals. A far better format would have been 2 divisions with the top 2 going through to the semi-finals.
Vintage Celtic were in the division of 4 teams with some strong opposition, namely Middleton Legends and Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, winners of the recent National Tournament Over 50’s Lancashire section. Celtic’s first game was against The Welcome Inn and we gave a great display of passing and movement and keeping a solid formation. The score in the 10 minutes games ended with a 2-0 win for Celtic but a 4 or 5 nil win wouldn’t have been flattering. Great goals from ‘Shedders’ and Stuart sealed the win for Celtic.
The tournament wasn’t well organised, with the rules sent out two days before, being changed on the day as well as the pitch sizes. The refereeing also left a lot to be desired. So with a 40 minute wait for the next game Celtic had to try and keep warm.
Middleton Legends were next up after their 0-1 defeat by the Blackburn team. Celtic took the lead from another great goal by ‘Shedders’ and although our formation wasn’t looking too good, we seemed to be in control of the game. However a lapse in defensive concentration allowed the Middleton striker to get off a shot, which although Ian got a finger tip to it, the ball finished in the Celtic net. The final score was a disappointing 1-1 draw.
With the Blackburn side having beaten Middleton 1-0 and The Welcome Inn 3-0, they looked to be going through unless Celtic could beat them in the final game of the division. Blackburn were a crafty side who knew they only needed a draw to qualify and their delaying tactics were evident in this final game. Although Celtic had a few scoring chances they just couldn’t put the ball in the Blackburn net. The final score was 0-0, so despite being unbeaten and only conceding 1 goal Celtic were out.
What made it hard to take was the other 3 qualifiers from the other divisions all advanced with 1 win and 1 draw apiece. The final insult was the offer of a buffet after the games when upon entering the function room all the food had been eaten. With 4 teams still playing that meant half the contestants were going to go hungry. While appreciating that this was the first FC United Tournament it is hoped they have learnt from the experience and will improve the organisation, refereeing and catering next time.
Thanks to all the lads who turned out at the FC United Tournament, Derek Drabble, Stuart Greaves, Colin Grimshaw, Mike Kieran, Paul O’Neil, Ian Parker, John Parkinson, Lee Shedwick and Tony Wade. We look forward to our own appearance in the National Tournament Over 60’s Category next Saturday at Heywood.