Vintage Celtic Report 2017
The Vintage Celtic Report 2017 is a mixture of success, failure and some controversy. With four trophy wins, the first half of the year started well enough, but finished on a low note with our walking football participation.
February started badly with our entry into the FA People’s Cup, which to be honest was a complete fiasco, with poor organisation, refereeing and lots of running and over physicality. Once bitten, twice shy with this competition, that does the FA no credit whatsoever.
Again in February, Celtic started their first session of the Cheshire Walking Football League Spring season. After relegation from the Premier Division in December 2016, it was thought that the Championship Division was more suitable for our age category. This proved to be correct with Celtic being crowned Champions in the final May session and gaining another trophy for the cabinet.
The Cheshire Walking Football League is an over 50’s league. The average age of our members is 64. Giving away ten years plus to younger, fitter players, isn’t a level playing field and we made the decision to only enter over 60’s competitions in future.
The Cheshire League’s refusal to move with the times and cater for the older player meant this was to be the last season in that league for our team. As the number of teams taking part in that league reduced, this proved that they had made a massive mistake in under estimating the demand for age categorisation. The success of the Greater Manchester Walking Football Over 60’s League proved that this was the preferred option for the older walking footballer.
Earlier in the month of May, Vintage Celtic were crowned 1st Division Champions of the newly formed Greater Manchester Walking Football Over 60’s Spring League to gain their second trophy of the year. This entailed a run of fifteen games unbeaten with only one goal conceded, and gained our goalkeeper Mike Kieran, the Golden Gloves Trophy.
Next up in June was the Life Leisure Stockport Tournament where we entered two teams, Vintage Celtic and Blue Vints. Unaware that there was no age classification in this competition, both teams found themselves playing against far younger players, some obviously under fifty years of age. With an average age of sixty six on the day, Vintage Celtic won the trophy to make it three in five weeks.
The Vintage Celtic Report 2017 now shows a downhill trend with the first disappointment coming in the Greater Manchester Walking Football League Over 65’s Cup Tournament in November at the Heywood Sports Village. Teams from the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Fylde Coast, joined five of our local teams to form two groups of four in a round robin format. Vintage Celtic were drawn in Group A alongside Hartshill Strollers, Rochdale Striders and local rivals Tameside Striders.
With three 0-0 draws in our group, we failed to make the Cup semi-finals by one point and had to settle for playing for the ‘Plate’ consolation prize. A 2-0 win over Wakefield Wanderers put us in the final against local rivals Tameside Striders. Although having the better of possession, we struggled to score until Barry Whitmore put the ball in the net to make us Plate Winners and give us our fourth trophy of the year. Celtic were the only side unbeaten on the day with no goals conceded.
The Vintage Celtic Report 2017 hits a low note in November. We had a proud record of twenty three league games without defeat, and only one goal conceded, in the Greater Manchester Walking Football Over 60’s League, up to the end of October. Unfortunately this went out of the window, with a lack of discipline being our downfall in this November session.
Enough has been said about the events so we won’t repeat them here but with two 1-0 defeats, it meant that the slim possibility of retaining our 1st Division trophy was now in tatters.
In December the Vintage Celtic Report 2017 hits an even lower note with four defeats in four games really showing how far we have fallen in the Greater Manchester Walking Football Over 60’s League. We only retained our position in the 1st Division by a three point margin. With this session being filmed by ARD German Television for their news item ‘The Growing Popularity Of Walking Football’ it only added to our misery.
In our defence we had three players suspended and another two on holiday and had to field a makeshift team but even that doesn’t begin to compensate for the humiliation.
Let’s now throw some positives into the Vintage Celtic Report 2017. In November, Vintage Celtic showcased walking football in an exhibition game between their members for the Stalybridge Celtic Foundation charity launch, watched by the many attendedees on the day.
For 2018 we have all the players missing from the December session now available, plus another two who become age eligible during the year. Although this 1st Division is going to be a tough one to win, if we can get back to our solid defensive performances and add a bit more firepower up front, then I am sure we could give it a good go.
Another factor in why we don’t seem to be the force we were, is that we are all another year older, and perhaps age has finally taken it’s toll? Having said that, the same applies to other teams as well. With the Greater Manchester Walking Football Over 65’s League beginning in February, we will also be entering that category, albeit with limited numbers to start with.
The year ended with a presentation and excellent curry night at the Amaani Restaurant in Ashton-under-Lyne. Trophies were presented to Marcia Breeze (Club Woman Of The Year), Gordon Fenton (Club Man Of The Year), Mike Taylor (Manager’s Player Of The Year) and Mike Keiran (Player’s Player Of The Year).
So what are the conclusions in this Vintage Celtic Report 2017? Well, many teams would call four trophy wins in a year a successful campaign, but I still can’t help feeling we could have done better. We have some good players in our ranks, who have proved that on their day they are a match for any team, so let’s regroup in 2018, stay positive, and get back to what we do best – winning trophies.
What is your opinion on Vintage Celtic’s year, please leave a comment below.