So yesterday? What can I say? A great group of guys and a great wider community.
Yesterday was the third annual Scottish Walking Football Festival. Taking place in Glasgow Green with over 70 teams taking part this was the largest one day walking football festival in the world with 2 competitions (over 50s and over 65s) and the friendly festival.
We were there to take part for the first time in the over 50s category. We were there with expectations but not necessarily high ones, hoping to get out of a tough looking group and then seeing what happened. Top dogs in the group looked to be Townhead Strollers who earlier this month had won the Ayr United tournament and so it turned out winning all but one of their first 5 games, a 0-0 draw, while beating us by a one goal margin twice. Going into the last two games of the group stage we needed to win ours and hope that that the Strollers won or drew theirs. We did our best and won our match and watched the final match nervously. Suffice to say the result went our way and we were through.
We now had a break before our last 16 game so an ideal time to regroup and most importantly get some food in us. That was a very short break it seemed and soon we were out on the pitch again playing Saints in the Community. A tight game with only one goal in it. Fortunately it was ours and through we went to the quarter finals.
So our biggest game of the tournament we were up against our group nemesis, Townhead Strollers. A quick goal in the first minute settled the guys nerves a bit and they steadily built up a 3-0 lead. This being the Rovers though things don’t always go smoothly. A comeback goal and then a second. Throw in a disallowed goal and a shot off the post that had our keeper beaten and this was getting ropey. The final klaxon was a blessed relief and we were through.
And so to the semi final against Linlithgow Rose, a team we had played at their home at the very start of their walking football journey a couple of years before. How had they progressed since then? What a stupid question that is. They’re in the semi final of a national championship so pretty damn well! A game played not quite in the same manner as that friendly some years ago as this was serious stuff but played fairly. This time our 3-0 lead wasn’t pulled back!
WE’RE IN THE FINAL!!! (Scenes I think is what the kids say.)
Before the final some took some time to watch the culmination of the over 65s tournament, a penalty shootout between Kirkcaldy and the Gerihatricks (team name of the day!). This was a tense affair with Kirkcaldy having one of their first 5 penalties saved the Gerihatricks just needed to score their last to win. True to the script it sailed over the bar. Into sudden death and the Kirkcaldy keeper pulled off a great save to win for The Lang Toon guys.
A Kirkcaldy double on the cards?
The final against Hearts wasn’t a classic with neither team wanting to lose or over commit. A nil nil draw and onto penalties. Another sudden death shootout? Surely not.
Hearts were first up. Goal
Rovers next. Goal
Hearts. Over the bar!!
2-3 to Rovers. One goal from 2 needed to win.
And the crowd go wild!!!
Well maybe they did and maybe they didn’t but we did and didn’t care about the crowd. We were loving it!!!
Awards ceremony. Words from sponsors, organisers, Craig Brown (he’s shorter in real life) all went by in a blur and then we got the trophy! Ecstatic! Scottish Champions. There were no tears, I don’t think, but reliving it I’m getting close.
And then the photos. Endless photos and nine of the happiest faces you’ll see ever.
A quick change in now deserted changing rooms and back to Kirkcaldy and straight to the Novar bar for a few celebratory drinks. What a great day.
What I’ve got to say about the walking football community, certainly here in Scotland, is what a great bunch of guys and girls. Most of the games were played in a friendly yet competitive spirit and where things did spill over guys, and girls, calmed down quickly. Off the pitches everyone had a smile and time for each other. from a quick “How’s your games going?” to a more in depth conversation about football, health or anything else (no religion or politics obviously this was a friendly day).
Looking forward to next year!