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Danny's Blog - news and views from our Manager at The Wanderers
"The People's F.A." at Dartford on 24/01/16
The collapse of a fellow 'walking footballer' of any team is not something any us would choose to witness, but the sterling work of the referee and then the ambulance people hopefully have saved his life. I have already sent an email to the Chairman of Chelmsford FC, who the teams were closely affiliated to, offering our thoughts and prayers for his recovery.
The tournament really pales into the background after such an event, but I believe we should report on it for all our squad members, as I feel we performed admirably against a playing style pretty much alien to us, and teams who were clearly used to 'pushing' the boundaries of walking football to their utmost limits. Hopefully Andy can publish this on the website for all our fellow team-mates to read.
The pitches were completely enclosed, with wall barriers allowing continual play for the 10 minutes, and it became clear most of the teams there today were used to this type of play. It certainly caught us out a few times, together with the constant pace of the game.
But I felt we were getting used to this by the second or third game. What shocked me, and others in the squad, was the blatant 'non-walking' and physicality of the game, and poor refereeing to tackle both of these. There were some dreadful tackles that would be penalised in any version of football, and have no place in what we class as walking football. If this is the standard for nationally arrange tournaments, then I for one, would not want our team to be a part of it. It was obvious from the start who were genuine casual walking football teams and who were just created for the tournament.
Saying that, we gave a very spirited performance in every game, and although we ended with a record of 1 win and 3 defeats, we lead first in every single game, and to be honest, just were not prepared for the constant playing format. Those ten minutes each game seemed to last forever, and with a squad of only seven, playing off of closed-boards, head-height rule and the sheer ferocity of the challenges, made us wilt a little towards the end of games. This is where we lost two of our games, virtually in the last kick of both.
But I can honestly say that everyone gave it their all, and can hold their heads up proud. This was our first venture outside our comfort blanket of Sussex, and we were playing teams that were clearly versed in proper 5-a-side football.
Our job now is to take it on the chin firstly, learn where we can improve and get ready for next time. But there certainly seems a different approach to these tournaments, that does not sit right with most of the guys today. There always seemed to be a threat of injury from late or 'over-zealous' tackles that does not seem to exist in our normal games. Perhaps our real review should be asking if this is the normal acceptable format for these games, do we actually want to be part of it. That certainly isn't what I signed up for with our team.
But, it was certainly an experience, and I'm glad we took part. I hope all our guys are fit and ok. Not one player had a bad game. We just came up against a different breed of walking football teams, most of which I feel with a bit of practice at 5-a-side, we could take on any other day. If the games were 8 minutes long, we would have won 3 lost one!!! Those last 2 minutes were killers!!!!
Kind regards to all, and see you all Thursday or Sunday.