Walking Football In Tameside – Vintage Celtic Progress Report 2015/2016
Walking Football In Tameside has been represented by Vintage Celtic for over 2 years now. What progress, if any, has been made in that time?
Vintage Celtic were formed by parent club Stalybridge Celtic FC in late 2014 after a clash over competitive walking football with Wellfit, who provided the original walking football training session in Hadfield. The majority of the players who played in the Hadfield sessions under the Wellfit umbrella were in favour of competitive walking football but Wellfit backtracked on their promise to deliver it.
Walking Football In Tameside came of age when Vintage Celtic’s first foray into walking football tournaments was made in April 2015 at their own Stalybridge Walking Football Festival, where they attained runners up spot. Next came a league format at the Manchester City Etihad complex, where once again Celtic were runners up.
With the addition of a few younger and more talented players, recruited from the Copley traditional small sided football sessions, Celtic were transformed into a force to be reckoned with. In fact in July of 2015 Celtic won 2 tournaments in one weekend, first the St Helen’s Walking Football Tournament on the Saturday and the Frodsham Walking Football Festival on the Sunday.
Although a few other runners up spots and the odd trophy win happened, the highlight of 2016 was winning the Algarve Walking Football Tournament, Celtic’s first venture into competition abroad. Another great day of walking football was Celtic’s entry into the Jules Rimet 50th Anniversary Tournament held in Leeds in July 2016. 18 teams from around the country took part and there were some very strong sides in the tournament. Leeds Titans, Seaton Carew and Sheffield Vulcan were in Celtic’s group, acknowledged to be the strongest group in the tournament.
This proved to be the case with the group providing the 2 finalists, the Titans and the Vulcans. The Vulcans, who Celtic had drawn with in the league format, beat the Titans in the final.
Also in July came the Frodsham Walking Football Festival, where Celtic were hoping to repeat their 2015 trophy win. Unfortunately in the semi-finals we came up against the twice winners of the National Trophy, Barnsley Leggy Mambos. In a tight game the Mambos came out 1-0 winners.
It soon became obvious that with an average age of around 63, Celtic had to concentrate on Over 60’s tournaments and leagues. Celtic’s first venture into this category was in September 2016 when Celtic were rewarded with a runners up spot in the Martin Dawson Memorial Trophy after losing the final on penalties to Wakefield Wanderers.
Now, with the setting up of the Greater Manchester Over 60’s Walking Football League and hopefully an Over 60’s Division in the Cheshire Walking Football League in 2017, Walking Football In Tameside will be well catered for. Also Over 60’s tournaments are becoming more common place, certainly in the Greater Manchester area, where the growth of the sport is the fastest in the country.
In early 2016 Vintage Celtic formed a committee to drive the club forward. This comprised of Mike Smith, the Community Development Officer of Stalybridge Celtic FC, Brian Coll our coach, Derek Drabble and myself. Celtic are financially self sufficient and in 2016 were the recipients of 2 sets of kit from sponsors R & M’s Discount warehouse of Denton and Tameside company, Turner & Duffy Joiners and Builders.
During the year Celtic moved their training venue from Astley Sports Village in Dukinfield to better facilities at the New Charter Academy in Ashton-under-Lyne. Training sessions were increased from 1 session per week to 2 sessions.
To celebrate the year end of Walking Football In Tameside, Celtic held a curry night after training on 5th December, and 20 members enjoyed a great meal and good company at the nearby Amaani restaurant. It was good to see some of the lads who cannot make the training sessions due to work commitments, but are valued members of the Celtic team, turning out on the night.
As is probably the case with most walking football clubs, players come and go for whatever reason. It seems that quite a few who try the sport never return. Do they find it too hard physically or too competitive? Others come back week after week and love the game. Vintage Celtic have been fortunate to recruit a good number of new faces in 2016 with some decent players among the ranks, although it has to be said, not many younger ones.
Towards the year end the team suffered from a lot of injuries, some fairly long term, but that’s the price for playing sport at an advanced age and we all accept that. With a player shortage due to these injuries, holidays and other commitments Celtic struggled in the Cheshire Walking Football League and relegation from the Premier Division became inevitable.
It is perhaps a sign of how much walking football has grown that many non league and even professional football clubs are now forming their own walking football section. Locally, apart from the Tameside clubs, we have FC United, Chadderton FC, Stockport County FC and even Manchester City FC.
What does 2017 have in store for Walking Football In Tameside with Vintage Celtic? Well hopefully numbers will grow and those wanting the competitive side of the game will be well catered for.
As well as being original members of the Cheshire Walking Football League, formed in 2015, Vintage Celtic are also entering the new Greater Manchester Over 60’s Walking Football League which is starting in February 2017.
Trophies may be harder to come by as more teams emerge and the standard of walking football increases. Essentially just playing and enjoying the game is paramount and of course running and physical contact still need to be eradicated.
Certainly the physical side of walking football seems to be in focus, with the National Tournament becoming non-contact in 2017. It is felt that this rule will soon become standard for all competitive games and a good thing too. Although more prevalent in the over 50’s category, it does seem to be of a lesser extent in the over 60’s tournaments.
Walking football should not be a slower version of 5-a-side football but a game where the emphasis is more on skillful passing, creating space to receive the ball, mobility and of course shooting skills. These attributes will be the basis in deciding which teams are winners in tournaments and leagues in the near future.
Any comments on your views of how the year went for Vintage Celtic are welcome.