A day out at Fratton Park brings yet more silverware for the Many Shades

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Given the chance to play on the lush sward of Fratton Park, twenty of the Many Shades players descended on the stadium in the early morning of 16th May to play in the Pompey ITC Spring Walking Football Tournament. With one of the planned seven teams dropping out, and the matches being six-a-side, we rearranged from being two sides with squads of ten to three sides of six outfield players plus our two goalkeepers (to be shared between the three sides). So we had the Many Shades of Yellow, Orange, and Green.


Pete puts pressure on the Oranges’ goal

With small goals and no access to the penalty areas, we predicted a lot of 0-0 draws, and sure enough the Greens started with just that against Pompey 1. The Oranges then picked up a great 1-0 win against Basingstoke, courtesy of a Steve Hall goal. The Yellows then beat the Greens 2-0 courtesy of goals from Bobby De Ste Croix and Pete Dolamore, before Pompey 2and the Oranges drew 0-0.


More pressure from the Yellows as Paul attempts a shot on goal

Bobby was on the scoresheet again along with Rich Bishop as the Yellows beat Basingstoke 2-0, before the Greens were held 0-0 by AFC Bournemouth. The Oranges then beat Pompey 1 thanks to a thunderbolt of a goal from Derek Trapp, his lifetime ambition to score at the Fratton End achieved. Bournemouth and the Yellows, followed by the Oranges against the Greens both ended 0-0, before a third goal of the day from Bobby proved to be the decisive strike against the powerful Pompey 2.

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The Oranges and Greens battle out a hard fought 0-0 draw

The Oranges then played out two consecutive 0-0 draws against Bournemouth and the Yellows before the Greens beat Basingstoke 1-0 thanks to a stunning Carlo Macri strike. Predictably enough, with the title already won, the Yellows and the Greens played out 0-0 draws against Pompey 1 and Pompey 2 respectively to close out the Tournament.

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The title winners, and recipients of a very impressive trophy, were the Many Shades of Yellow, represented by Darryl Horn (g), Stew Russell, Pete Dolamore, Paul Sealey, Rich Bishop, Matt Bartolo, and Bobby De Ste Croix. The Oranges were James McIlwaine (g), Ian Warren, Pete James, Steve Hall, Barry Gray, Derek Trapp, and Colin Baker. For the Greens, Darryl and James shared goalkeeping duties, and were joined by Barry Ingram, Barry Carter, John Morgan, Graham Nobbs, Jeff Hooper, and Carlo Macri.


Stewart and the Many Shades of Yellow collect the solid silver trophy

Many thanks to Geoff Maunder and Tash Stephens for the photos.

For many more of Geoff’s superb photos, please click here and then on the Walking Football album.



Bognor Regis Festival brings record win

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The day after the Hawks had clinched the National League South title in such dramatic, emotionally draining, and euphoria-inducing style, the Many Shades of Grey went to the  Graveyard of Dreams to tread the very turf that Dartford’s players and fans had so disappointingly trudged off only some 19 hours earlier.  Yes, Nyewood Lane was hosting Bognor’s first festival.  Two mini-leagues, each team having five matches of 2x 8 minutes, followed by a knock-out phase of 2x 10 minute matches to decide some trophies at the end.

The opposition goalkeepers looked a formidable bunch

It has to be said that the Many Shades were slow out of their blocks.  Following the previous evenings celebrations, there were some, shall we call them “cobwebs”, still to be dusted off.  So it was that we lost 1-0 to Brighton Dolphins in a match that we were actually quite competitive in.  Next up were Tadley Statin Strollers, and we kind of woke up a little for that one, but only after going 2-0 down.  An opportunistic Stew Russell goal, followed by a great Pete Dolamore thunderbolt dragged us back into the game, but sadly Tadley ran out 4-2 winners.

Next we found ourselves up against the might of Emsworth & Hayling’s first choice team, but because we know their strengths we were able to put on a solid and well-organised team performance, and held them to a 0-0 draw.

Our fourth game was against Southampton Strollers, who somehow beat us 2-1, a Bobby De Ste Croix finish giving us some hope.  If we couldn’t understand how we had failed to win a game so far, our perplexity only increased as our final league game against Gosport Civil Service unfolded.  With one shot on target from their only worthwhile attack, Gosport somehow held on for a 1-0 win. That put us firmly at the bottom of our league, which meant that we won the booby prize  –  a stick of Bognor Rock each!  To prove that football really is a funny old game, our draw against Emsworth was not only the only point we got, it was the only game they didn’t win!

With our usual photographer spending most of the afternoon either on the pitch or in the bar, Pete once again nobly grappled with iphone camera.

For the next phase we were entered in the “Silver Cup” competition, against the lower finishers of the two leagues.  We were drawn against the second-bottom side from the other league.  It seems harsh that our hosts, Bognor Regis Boulders, should be the victims of the single most ruthless and dominant performance ever by a Many Shades side.  Somehow this bunch of losers finally shook off those cobwebs, and walked away with a stunning, shocking, ridiculous 10-0 victory.  Hat-tricks apiece from Pete Brown, James McIlwaine, and Bobby De Ste Croix, all topped off with a really unfortunate own-goal, gave us our record win.

The plate final was against Tadley Statin Strollers, and after our earlier somewhat shambolic defeat to them, we were determined to carry our new-found form into this game.  And for once, we did.  It finished a fairly comfortable win, with two goals each from Bobby and James earning us a 4-1 victory and the “Silver Cup”.

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So, there was some redemption, and the squad that earned your Many Shades that record win and somewhat unusual silver trophy was (l-r) Barry Ingram, Colin Jeffery (g), Pete Dolamore, James McIlwaine, Jeff Pickering, Bobby De Ste Croix, John Hicks, Stew Russell and Pete Brown.

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Galey proudly parades the trophy after Monday’s training session

Congratulations to Jeff Pickering who now joins the exclusive 100-club of Stew Russell and Pete Dolamore by reaching his century of appearances.  Next up should be Barry Ingram, right now sitting on a tantalising 99, followed by Rich Bishop who is currently on 96.

Rich Bonsey Memorial 60+ Festival

On Sunday 22nd April we met at Park Community School to remember our former player and club stalwart Rich Bonsey, who died of cancer on 25th April 2017.  As well as the walking football, there was a raffle and quiz night to follow.  Having extorted additional match fees out of guest teams and then plundered them for raffle tickets and prizes, the profit from the day was to go to Southampton University’s Cancer Immunology Research.

The Many Shades got out of the blocks well, and in no time were 1-0 up against Bognor Regis Boulders, thanks to James McIlwaine’s fine finish.  However the strikers decided that charity was order of the day, and conspired to miss at least six good chances before Derek Pope finally decided to put one away.  With Bognor on the rocks, Bobby De Ste Croix wrapped up a 3-0 win for us.


With his dedicated fan club in attendance, Stew was determined to put on a show

Next up was a tough game against pre-tournament favourites Pompey ITC.  Slightly against the run of play, James squeezed home a first-half goal, and from that point on it was a little like the Alamo as Pompey played some excellent football that was well matched by the Many Shades’ well-drilled defence.  Particular mention must go to the inspired Player of the Festival, goalie Colin Jeffery, whose performance earned us a 1-0 win.


With Bobby looking on, Rich moves in on Nick from Pompey ITC

The Many Shades then met a solid and enterprising Fleet of Foot side, who as winners of our previous 60+ Festival were no push-over.  A tense game ended 0-0.


Barry T in full flow


A busy CJ in goal tips a shot onto the upright


Unwisely, Derek gets his backside in the way of one of Rich’s piledrivers

Mountbatten were our next opponents, and they had only narrowly lost to Pompey, and drawn their other matches, so were not going to be easy.  It took the “Goal of the Festival” from Bobby to open the scoring, a stunning finish into the top corner from some distance.  With Mountbatten having to push forward after this, an opportunity arose for Rich Bishop to score from just inside the area, and a 2-0 win seemed a fair result.


Rich drives one into the box with James ready to pounce

The Many Shades’ final game was against Emsworth & Hayling, who were coming off a totally uncharacteristic 5-0 hammering by Pompey.  Beware the wounded animal, and sure enough they put up a very hard-working performance, scoring the only goal that CJ conceded all day.  Fortunately goals from Rich and Bobby (2) saw us comfortably home by a 3-1 scoreline.

The final positions on the day were the Many Shades first with 13 points from five games, Pompey ITC second (12), followed by Fleet of Foot (8), Emsworth & Hayling (5), Mountbatten WFT (2), and finally Bognor Regis Boulders (1).

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Your Many Shades squad was: (back) Derek Pope, Barrie Gray (Timekeeper-in-chief), Bobby De Ste Croix, Rich Bishop, Barry Ingram, Tindall, Pete Dolamore. (front) Colin Jeffery (g), James McIlwaine, Stew Russell

We all returned to the Westleigh for the buffet and presentation.  For the first time in all of the Festivals that the Many Shades have put on, we actually won one – at the NINETEENTH attempt!!!  Derek Pope proudly accepted the trophy on our behalf.

The buffet of course was our true highlight of the day, and once again Suzette and Natalie did us proud, with yet another Probably the best Walking Football Buffet in the World.  The quiz night was won by the very talented Mountbatten WFT team, who made early but effective use of their joker.

Overall winner of the day was of course the fundraising for Southampton University Cancer Immunology Research, which benefited to the tune of £341.21 after expenses. 

Havant Borough Community Lottery

We are very pleased to announce that The Many Shades of Grey has been deemed a worthy cause by the new Havant Borough Community Lottery.

With a weekly top prize of £25,000, please consider having a flutter and support your favourite walking football team.

For more details, please click here or see below.

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Football For Cancer Charity Day

Last weekend, the Many Shades were pleased to be involved in a “Through the Ages” Football For Cancer charity day. A fundraising event that originally was planned to take place on the hallowed turf of Westleigh Park but with the recent weather turning the pitch into a surface more akin to water polo, plan B was put into operation and we all convened at the Front Lawn.

With a small but perfectly formed crew of players turning up (bearing little relationship to the original group that had committed themselves to playing), we put out two teams, as usual: the Many Shades of Yellow and Grey. With Many Shades player Colin Jeffery organising the overall event, we were there to play a series of friendlies against Morgan Innovation and Technology, CJ’s “works side”, as well as each other.

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A youthful MIAT team with a couple of familiar faces in their ranks.

With MIAT fielding a very mixed age group, and none of them (apart from CJ and Jeff) having any experience of walking football, the Greys started against the Yellows, so that MIAT could get an idea of how the game is played. Due to the ad hoc nature of the squads, the Greys borrowed an older member of the MIAT squad, and then thoroughly confused themselves by not having a clue about their formation. This confusion allowed Bobby De Ste Croix to set Rich Bishop up for a textbook finish past the floundering Jeff Pickering in goal. That was enough to seal the victory, as the game went on to settle into an even battle of incompetence all round. Most notable was referee Micky Wallis’ firm command of the rules of the game and his understanding of how many minutes make up ten or twelve.

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Stew attempts to clear his lines with Bobby looking on, but …

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… it was a cleverly disguised pot shot at Micky the Ref

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Barry’s pin point pass find Pete

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The battle of the Petes in midfield

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With the back of the goal filling up with balls and damage limitation being the only option, Jeff opts for a blatant attempt at time wasting

Next the Yellows played MIAT, and it soon became apparent that not running and three-touch football were alien concepts for CJ’s collection of young novices. As a result the Yellows were able to produce a clinical 2-0 win thanks to a brace from Bobby De Ste Croix, the second a delightful and delicate goalkeeper-bewildering flick that rolled into the corner.

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Bobby on target

Borrowing Jeff again to play in goal, and with Rich Bishop bolstering their numbers, the Greys then played a warmed-up and quite energetic MIT side, who were superbly marshalled by CJ at the back. Unfortunately for the Greys, Jeff had remembered that he still has to pay off his mortgage and feed his family, all of which was dependent upon his employment at MIAT. So it came to pass that there was an unfortunate catalogue of goalkeeping errors which led to MIAT scoring a soft goal against the run of play. The sweet-passing Greys weren’t dismayed (too much) and continued to dominate the game, and it came as no surprise when Stew Russell coolly finished off a great passing move to equalise [Who writes this stuff? – Ed]. In spite of continued pressure, MIAT held on for a hard-earned draw.

The Yellows therefore won a very pretty trophy, which Bobby proudly collected at the photoshoot afterwards. Their squad was: a MIAT player and Pete Brown sharing goalkeeping duties, Barry Ingram, Pete Dolamore, Barry Tindall, and George Peters at the back, Rich Bishop in midfield, and Bobby De Ste Croix up front. The Greys lined up with Jeff Pickering in goal, Mick Sidwell at the back, and a midfield made up of Pete Brown, Carlo Macri, Rich Bishop (vs MIAT), Stew Russell, and Barrie Gray. They didn’t bother with a front man, preferring instead to play total football.

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On a serious note, the day raised more than £7,000 for the FFC fund. Well done to CJ and all the organisers for a great afternoon, despite the weather.


Many Shades have it covered

With it being imperative that this weekend’s home game v. Weston-super-mare went ahead, members of the Many Shades answered the call to arms to help with the covers.

Good Friday lunchtime saw a merry band of wellies-clad volunteers at Westleigh Park to assist Martyn and his team with whatever was necessary to ensure the game wasn’t added to the growing list of postponements.

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The covers coming off

Their efforts were rewarded. The referee was happy that the match could go ahead and despite the conditions deteriorating with the afternoon rain, the first team ran out worthy 2-0 winners to maintain their place at the top of the league.

A further call to arms on Sunday saw the return of the volunteers to ensure that the pitch was protected from the downpours forecasted for next week.

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The covers going back on

Stewart’s boys take on the Tudors – Take II

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On Saturday 24th February, we travelled to Hemel Hempstead to play the Tudors’ walking footballers in a return fixture following last year’s narrow 4-3 victory on 11th November. So it was that the young men of Hemels Happy Feet faced up against the Many Shades of Grey. We clearly won the “team name street-cred” competition!


Despite a few tasking road signs en route, we all arrived safe and well if not a bit chilly.

The Happy Feet were out of their blocks quickly, and played a well-drilled pass-and-move game, feeding their mobile forwards well. It wasn’t long before this push and run style of play paid off, and they took a marginally deserved lead.

The second period saw the Many Shades dominate for long stretches, and our pressure was rewarded thanks to a Steve Hall equalizer followed by a classic Rich Bishop bottom-corner placed shot from distance.

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Stew tries a shot from long range

Steve Hall added a second for the Many Shades in the third period but a Happy Feet equaliser meant we went into the final period level at 2-2.

The Hemel players’ overall fitness and ability to walk extremely quickly pulled our tiring defence apart, and truth be told it was only John Kennett’s heroics in goal that kept us in the game. However with about 6 minutes left they got the goal that mattered, and as we tried desperately to push forward for an equalizer so they inevitably countered in swarming numbers and added a fourth.

So we lost 4-2, but that wasn’t the end. Oh no, for once on our travels we had a changing room with, wait for it, hot showers! Sheer bliss after the near-zero temperatures and Siberian breeze we had endured for the previous hour. Then it got even better as they had invited us back to the Vauxhall Road ground, where we were treated to sarnies, chips, chicken wings and then on to watch the mighty Hawks as they were the better side in a 0-0 draw dominated by the freezing wind.

Many thanks to Hemel Hempstead Town for their hospitality, which was excellent.

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Your Many Shades squad for the day, and complementary entrants to the stadium, were: (back) Steve Hall, Rich Bishop, John “the Hood” Hicks, Barry Ingram, Stew Russell, Pete Dolamore, (front) James McIlwaine, Pete Brown, John Kennett, Jeff Pickering.

One final note, anyone who put there hand in their pocket and bought a matchday programme (I think it was only Stew) will have seen the walking football article welcoming the two teams. I’m sure our good friends at Hemel won’t mind that I have taken the liberty of re-printing it below.

hemel programme



Ten Years After 60+ Festival report

Exactly ten years on from the Hawks’ amazing day out at Liverpool in the FA Cup, the Many Shades hosted the first of their celebratory Festivals, welcoming Pompey ITC, Emsworth & Hayling, and Fleet of Foot along to join us.   The Many Shades of Grey and the Many Shades of Yellow were fielded to make up a five team format., the 4.00pm start being a little unfamiliar for everyone.

The Greys were reduced by injury to one player (who still turned up to help with the organisation—thanks Barrie) and absence of two others who had originally promised to play.  So they borrowed a player from the Yellows which left both sides with the bare minimum squads of 7, with no substitutes.

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Many Shades of Grey: Barry Carter,Mick Sidwell, Barry Ingram, John Hicks (g), Stew Russell, Colin Baker, Colin Harberd.

Needless to say the depleted Greys didn’t get off to the best of starts, nor did they get off to the best of middles.  In fact they didn’t really get off to the best of finishes either.  They lost 2-0 to pre-Festival favourites Emsworth & Hayling, then 3-0 to the Yellows, then 4-0 to Pompey ITC.  With runaway leaders Fleet of Foot next, a five-nil looked on the cards.  But they dug in, and actually played some quite good football, only losing 1-0 in the end.  The Greys’ injury problems struck again though, and they had to recruit Yellows’ ’keeper James McIlwaine for the last game.  Having lost all four games the Greys were odds-on to finish bottom of the heap, and they didn’t disappoint!

The Yellows, meanwhile, resplendent in their “Probably” shirts in recognition of the anniversary of the Cup run, and only missing one of their players, probably expected to do somewhat better.  And so they did.

They opened with a solid 2-0 win over Pompey ITC, before completing their comfortable 3-0 win over the battling Greys.


Derek lays the ball through for Bobby to tap in the third for the yellow against the greys.

Next up they met Fleet of Foot, and lost that one 2-1.  They were feeling particularly aggrieved that they had been confused and bewildered by the referee, who was wearing a similarly coloured top to Fleet (the Greys didn’t seem to find this a problem though when they played them, and neither did anyone else…). Their final game was a pretty comfortable 2-0 win over Emsworth & Hayling.  The Yellows’ goals came from Bobby De Ste Croix (5) and Derek Pope (3).

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Many Shades of Yellow: Barry Tindall, Derek Pope, Ian Warren, James McIlwaine (g), Bobby De Ste Croix,  Rich Bishop, Pete Dolamore, Mickey the Manager.

In an appropriate finishing order, the team in the “Probably” shirts finished as they did at Liverpool, second on the day, but winners to the general public (or not).  The final standings were Fleet of Foot (10 points), Many Shades of Yellow (9), Pompey ITC (7), Emsworth & Hayling (3), and Many Shades of Grey (0). This meant that the town of Fleet gained some revenge for being one of the stepping-stones of the Hawks’ cup run.

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Rich secretly relays tactics to Bobby unaware that there’s a spy in the camp.

We all returned to the Westleigh for yet another of Suzette’s and Natalie’s stunning buffets.  “Probably the Best Walking Football Festival Buffet in the World