Vintage Celtic Over 65s – GMWFL Rochdale Over 65s Cup
Vintage Celtic Over 65s entered their first ever tournament in this age category in the GMWFL Rochdale Over 65’s Cup Tournament at the Heywood Sports Village. After a successful Spring season the Greater Manchester Over 60’s Walking Football League decided to run an over 65’s cup tournament.
With limited numbers to pick from in this age category, to be honest, I didn’t think much of our chances of progressing from the round robin stages into the semi-finals. As it turned out we had a bare 7 in the squad, with an average age of 69. Thoughts of adding to the recent trophy wins in the Greater Manchester Over 60’s Spring League and the Cheshire Walking Football Championship Division Spring League were not uppermost in my mind.
Vintage Celtic Over 65s were drawn into Division A, with AFC Blackpool Very Senior Seasiders (who weren’t that senior), Rochdale Striders, Manchester Community WF and Wakefield Wanderers (who beat us on penalties in the final of the Martin Dawson Memorial Trophy last September, albeit in the over 60’s age category).
Looking at the various teams, most were down to 6 or 7 players in their squads, so we weren’t alone in that respect.
First up were old foes Rochdale Striders who from memory we have always drawn 0-0 against and this was no exception, so it was a point apiece in this first fixture.
Wakefield Wanderers were the next up and this looked like ending up another stalemate until the Celtic sub came on to try and break the deadlock. This young Tameside lad, found space, collected the ball, feinted to send the keeper the wrong way and slid the ball into the net to give Celtic a 1-0 victory.
The third fixture saw Celtic up against the unknown Manchester Community WF and a left footed shot by Barry Whitmore found the back of the net in the first few minutes. I though this was going to turn into a romp for Celtic but slack marking a minute after scoring led to a goal for the Manchester team.
They were beginning to get into the game more and with only 7 minutes left it was once again time for the young super sub to show what he could do. A fast cross from Eric Williams saw this promising new striker hammer a left footed shot into the top corner to make the score 2-1 to Celtic. This was the final score at the whistle to give Celtic 7 points in Division A with one game to play.
With Celtic in the market for a striker, could this youngster be the answer and also save the club millions in transfer fees?
The final game was against the Blackpool side who were solid in defence with no goals against so far in the tournament. They kept their record with the match finishing 0-0 and another point in the bag for Celtic.
Celtic won Division A by a 2 point margin over the Blackpool team and despite my initial reservations of success, were in the semi-finals and due to play the runners-up from Division B. This turned out to be Rochdale AFC Strollers who we had drawn twice with and beaten once in the GMWF Spring League.
Unfortunately the half hour wait to play the semi-final took it’s toll on Celtic’s midfield general Barry Whitmore who suffered calf muscle seizure due to the half hour’s inactivity, a problem that Barry seems to suffer from. Barry started the game but after a minute or two signalled that it was the end of play for him that day.
This disrupted the team and we never looked like winning this one. Rochdale were the better team in all departments and fully deserved their 3-0 victory. Rochdale went on to win the cup in a penalty shootout with Widnes, so congratulations to them. Whether Barry’s presence would have made a difference to the result is debatable but would probably have reduced the winning margin.
Thanks to all the lads who turned out today in the Vintage Celtic Over 65s squad, Tom Burns, Derek Drabble, Bill Harrison, Mike Kieran, Bill Murney, Barry Whitmore and Eric Williams. Thanks also to Stuart Greaves who turned up to support the lads today, just hope you took note of the valuable lessons on goal scoring Stuart!
On a final note Eric Williams had a solid tournament today and it was good to see Derek Drabble back to his best with a number of shots on target that on other days may well have resulted in goals. Derek also took command of the midfield with Barry and bossed it in most of the games. He was probably our outstanding player in this tournament. As one Wakefield player said to me “you can certainly see he has played before”. Well done Derek, it’s great to see you back at your best.