Vintage Celtic GMWF Spring League 2017 Champions
Vintage Celtic GMWF Spring League 2017 Champions was the final outcome of a successful campaign in this inaugural season of the new Over 60’s walking football league.
With teams initially being allocated divisions through selection out of the hat, and promotion and relegation after each monthly session, eventually the better teams found their way into Division 1.
In this final session of the 2017 Spring League Celtic were without two important players. The two were the leagues top striker, up to and including the April session, Paul O’Neil, and play maker and Captain, Brian Coll. Added to this, the fact that Barry Whitmore was unable to play in all four games due to other arrangements on the day, it was always going to be squeaky bum time before we could be confident of winning the league. Celtic started this final league session with a 4 point advantage over second placed Nash Amblers.
We started with a 0-0 draw against Rochdale Strollers, a team always difficult to gain points against, and the outcome was a fair conclusion to the game. With nearest rivals, Nash Amblers, beating Chadderton FC WF 1-0 on the adjacent pitch, it meant that Celtic’s 4 point lead at the top of the combined division standings was reduced to 2 points and this didn’t instil confidence in the prospect of becoming league champions.
Next up came Chadderton FC WF, another team we had only beaten once in this Spring season. Chadderton FC WF always seem to play well against us, and once again we managed to hold on for a 0-0 draw. So now we had a 3 point advantage over the Nash Amblers, who had a game in hand on Celtic.
The third encounter was against Bolton Wanderers, who had just been beaten 3-0 by Rochdale Strollers. This time Celtic were the dominant team but despite a few chances we just couldn’t put the ball in the Bolton net. Riddy Walker had to be replaced in this game due to an old injury flaring up. Once again the result was a 0-0 draw and with the Nash Amblers going down to a 2-1 loss against Rochdale Strollers, Celtic now were back to a 4 point advantage but having played a game more.
Celtic’s final match in this May session was the the encounter which could decide the league winners, Celtic’s fourth game on the trot, the game against Nash Amblers. With Celtic down to the bare bones and no substitutes available it was hoped no further injuries would be incurred.
Neither side could afford to lose this game and despite Celtic having slightly more possession than the Amblers, the match finished 0-0. With very few chances to either side and neither looking a threat on goal, it was a fair result and meant that Celtic couldn’t be caught even if their nearest rivals won their last game. In the event the Amblers drew against Bolton Wanderers to give Celtic a 3 point advantage at the top.
So it was Vintage Celtic GMWF Spring League 2017 Champions and the fifth winners trophy, to add to the 5 runners up awards, in the Celtic cabinet in their 2½ years existence. With Nash Amblers finishing runners up, it meant the two Tameside teams finished first and second in this inaugural season of the GMWF Over 60’s League.
Now to the players who made it Vintage Celtic GMWF Spring League 2017 Champions.
Mike Kieran, our 71 year old goalkeeper. With 15 games played in this Spring league, Mike has kept 14 clean sheets and fully deserved the Golden Gloves trophy he was presented with at the after match award winners ceremony. Well done Mike, and despite all the mickey taking, what would we do without you?
Celtic are lucky to have some excellent defenders who conceded only one goal in a fifteen match unbeaten run and that was an own goal. You could pick any three from six without weakening the side, all have done a magnificent job. Our absent Captain, Brian Coll, the ever improving Eric Williams, Keith Whitmore, Tony Wade, Riddy Walker and Barry Whitmore. Barry covers more ground than any two other players, in every match, despite his advancing years.
Up front, the ever dependable Derek Drabble and the absent Paul O’Neil, who is a nightmare for any defender to play against. Keith Burrows has also been a valuable addition to the striking squad in this tournament. In this session Martin Dunkerley stood in for Paul. This was Martin’s first venture into walking football and he later admitted that he found it strange after being use to playing normal small sided football.
Martin performed admirably on the day, shielding and holding the ball up well, despite some questionable challenges by defenders unable to master him. With little support up front, unfortunately his normal shooting skills were limited on the day. Hopefully Martin will appear for us again as he did enjoy the occasion and with Paul alongside him, what a striking duo that would make.
Last but certainly not least, two guys who accept their playing involvement will be limited but never the less always show up at the league sessions. In Gordon Fenton and Mike Taylor, we have two excellent club men whose commitment is appreciated by all the lads and especially by me. Fortunately, in this session they were able to get some game time by guesting for Maccabi Old Codgers and AFC Blackpool Very Senior Seasiders respectively.
With Vintage Celtic GMWF Spring League 2017 Champions and the possibility of adding another trophy on Thursday, 11th May, in the Cheshire Walking Football League it is all to play for and let’s hope we can maintain our momentum and come away champions once more.