Life Leisure Stockport Tournament
The Life Leisure Stockport Tournament was a first venture for this organisation in setting up a walking football tournament and it was a great success.
Well where do we start? From a promised 18 members who said they were available for this tournament to form 2 teams, 11 turned up. 2 said they were unavailable due to injury and gave plenty of prior notice, which is fair enough. Another 2 informed me the night before they couldn’t make it, again fair enough, even though it was late notice. Another said he wasn’t sure about being available but never confirmed he wasn’t.
Disappointingly, 2 who originally confirmed they were available never contacted me to say they couldn’t make it, despite receiving a confirmation email with final details a few days previously. It’s just common courtesy and only requires a text, an email or a phone call. Anyway we won’t dwell on that, let’s proceed with the positives.
This Life Leisure Stockport Tournament had no age classification and speaking to Ross McGuigan, the organiser, he admitted that some players could even be under 50. With the format being 6-a-side and game duration only 8 minutes, it meant we were a player short for the 2 teams. Thankfully other teams had the same problem so the organisers decided to make it a 5-a-side tournament. In the event we now had 1 spare player for 2 teams.
The 2 teams entered in this tournament were Vintage Celtic and the Blue Vints. Although the tournament was billed as a ‘Social Tournament’, with teams requested to field mixed abilities, this doesn’t happen, even with the best intentions. We play to win and I had to pick what I considered the best team in order for Vintage Celtic to win the trophy.
It was a difficult decision with a couple of the Blue Vints team in contention. Especially difficult was asking Ian Parker to be the Blue Vints keeper. Ian is an excellent keeper who isn’t available to play in the mid-week leagues. It wouldn’t have been fair to replace Mike Kieran with the younger Ian in the Vintage Celtic team. They both have different attributes, Mike is an excellent shot stopper, while Ian has the same ability and also commands his area.
Mike has never let us down and with 14 clean sheets out of 15 games in the Greater Manchester Over 60’s Walking Football Spring League and the Golden Gloves winner to boot, it was a no brainer. Thankfully Ian accepted and endorsed the decision and has my utmost admiration for it.
Paul O’Neil, who has been a little wayward of late with his shooting, last week actually asked Celtic’s new young striking sensation for some private tuition on the art of successful goal scoring. Our new protege was happy to oblige and the pair spent a few hours on the training pitch honing Paul’s skills and the results were almost instantaneous. In this tournament Paul was once again back to his old form. Surely a drink or two must be in the offering for this valuable advice from the youngster?
Now to the fixtures. The Vintage Celtic team had an average age of 66 and came up against some teams 10 or more years younger. The Blue Vints team had a slightly younger average age of 60, although I am guessing on a couple of players ages.
First up were the Blue Vints against Life Leisure Dialstone. This resulted in a 2-1 defeat for the Blues, despite a well taken goal from Ian Molyneaux.
Vintage Celtic were drawn against Reddish North End and this was a whitewash with Celtic scoring 6 without reply in the 8 minute time slot. Celtic’s passing and movement were excellent and Paul O’Neil grabbed 3, Derek Drabble 2 and George Maitland the other one.
Blue Vints were up against Stockport County 1 in the next fixture and this resulted in a 1-1 draw, with Marcia Breeze grabbing the the goal.
In their group, Vintage Celtic played Stockport County 2 in the second game and in this fixture we were not at our best. Admittedly the opposition were of a higher standard and they took the lead. Fortunately Derek Drabble equalised with a fine shot that gave the Stockport keeper no chance. The result was a disappointing 1-1 draw.
Blue Vints final game in the round robin format ended in a 3-1 defeat to Life Leisure Kingsway, with Ian Molyneaux again grabbing the Blues only goal.
Vintage Celtic’s final game was versus Life Leisure Holdsworth and once again Paul’s recent tuition paid off in spectacular fashion with him scoring 5 in a 6-1 route of the Holdsworth team. Paul, you have at last realised that advice from a far superior goalscorer is well worth listening to!
In the semi-final of this Life Leisure Stockport Tournament Vintage Celtic were again not at their best but had the most scoring chances. The opposition were Stockport County 1. Unfortunately we came up against a terrific keeper who saved numerous shots that would have been goals with a less competent custodian.
This game finished in a 0-0 draw and went to penalties. Stockport won the toss and put away their first penalty to put the pressure on us. Despite some unnecessary ribbing from the crowd, Paul casually put away his effort to make it 1-1 and responded to the crowd as only Paul would. Stockport scored again from their second effort and Derek didn’t disappoint with his spot kick to make it 2-2. Mike made a brilliant save to thwart the Stockport team so now it was down to George to win the day. He didn’t disappoint but the referee decided he had taken it before the whistle was blown so the shot had to be retaken. This could have unnerved some players but George calmly hit the second attempt in the corner to give the keeper no chance.
So a 3-2 win on penalties put us into the final. It was justice after all as we were the dominant team and I would have been devastated if we had gone out of the second semi-final in 3 days.
The final of this Life Leisure Stockport Tournament put us up against the Life Leisure Kingsway team, winners of the other round robin group. They were a very good side, albeit far younger than us but we had slightly more possession. Paul opened the scoring to give Celtic a 1-0 lead. Shortly afterwards Kingsway scored an equaliser but with only a couple of minutes left Paul again came to Celtic’s rescue with another goal to make it a 2-1 victory and another trophy for Vintage Celtic.
Vintage Celtic, the winners of this Life Leisure Stockport Tournament played some terrific football and were without doubt the best team in the tournament.
Thanks to all the Celtic members who turned out today. The Vintage Celtic team, Derek Drabble, Mike Kieran, George Maitland, Paul O’Neil and Tony Wade. The Blue Vints team, Marcia Breeze, Keith Fowler, Ian Molyneaux, Ian Parker and Mike Taylor.
This was Vintage Celtic’s 3rd trophy win in 5 weeks and it meant that 2017 would be their most successful year since being established 2½ years ago. That makes it 7 trophy wins all told, with hopefully more to come, to add to the 5 Runners Up awards as well.
Click Images Below For Enlargement & Mouse For Captions