The Many Shades and the case of Baz’s missing sock

The Many Shades travelled to Bristol on a warm Sunday 23rd April to take part in a six-a-side festival in memory of Dave O’Brien, one of their players who passed away from cancer. The venue was Goals Bristol North, scene of our FA Cup semi-final last year.

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L-R : Pete, John the Hat, Barry I, CJ, Stewart, Rich, Baz C & Jeff

We opened up with a match against Wiltshire Blue, and fell a goal behind early on. However a solid Rich Bishop shot brought us level, and we reached half-time at 1-1. The second half saw the Blues continue to press, and they got their reward for good play with two further goals to run out 3-1 winners.

Next up were Wiltshire Yellow, and we played our part in what could be claimed to be the match of the day. The Yellows stormed into a 2-0 lead, but were pegged back by another Rich Bishop goal. Then just before half-time, a John Hicks cross took a deflection and fell kindly for Stew Russell to place into the net for an equaliser. Things got even better in the second half as our turn-around seemed complete when an uncharacteristic bit of skill and vision from Russell set up the unmarked Rich Bishop to give us the lead. The Yellows weren’t done though, and came back strongly to grab an equaliser shortly before the end, and it finished 3-3. This was the only game the Yellows failed to win on the day, as they took the top of the leader board by the throat, so it was a great effort by the Many Shades.

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Barry makes his move into space

We had a break then, and watched the Yellows demolish our next opponents Weston 10-1. But there’s nothing so dangerous as a wounded animal, and a re-shaped Weston came out determined to regain some self-respect. For all of Jeff Pickering’s countless efforts that went either inches wide or were saved, the first half looked destined to end scoreless until Weston grabbed one against the run of play just before half-time. Bringing Bishop and Russell on as subs for the second half, the Many Shades dominated the game without breaking down a stubborn defence, and an unfortunate penalty conceded when Barry Ingram accidentally put a foot inside the penalty area gave Weston an unlikely 2-0 win.

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Rich shoots from distance

Our next match was against Bristol Dave, and in a fairly even contest we had slightly the better of the game, with another Rich Bishop goal settling a 1-0 win for us, although we were unlucky not to improve on that when Baz Carter hit the post with a good effort. This was followed by a rather more physical game against Clevedon, who beat us 5-0. The main story of this match was the referee’s interpretation of tackling from behind, as both Pete Dolamore and Jeff Pickering were left floored by separate challenges that although (possibly) fair in a 5-a-side context should certainly have been penalised in a walking football context. We explained this to the referee very politely, but still lost.


Pete, using a smartphone camera for the first time, captures Baz having a well earned drink between matches.

Finally, and by now “thank God”, it was Bristol O’Brien, and a very weary Many Shades squad went down to a 2-0 defeat as two rocket shots from our old Bristol City adversary Keith Gwilym beat the excellent Colin Jeffery in goal.


Pete, now fully versed with the iPhone camera, experiments with a selfie.

Your completely knackered squad who had exceeded Lee Bradbury’s normal call for the “full 95 minutes” by covering 120 minutes of play, was Colin Jeffery in goal, protected sporadically by a combination of Barry Ingram, Pete Dolamore, Rich Bishop, Stew Russell, Jeff Pickering, Baz Carter, and John Hicks. We finished 5th out of 7.

And so to mystery of Baz’s missing sock. A prolonged search of the changing room and of his kitbag made Baz a late attendee at the post-tournament buffet. It was evident that some lowlife had stolen Baz’s best M&S left sock.

black-sock-clip-artA police artist’s impression of Baz’s missing sock

But then, whilst bending down to show his naked ankle to Jeff as proof of the felony, the missing sock fell out from up his trouser leg.
The case of Baz’s missing sock had been solved and we could all sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that the phantom sock nicker of old Bristol town was just a figment of our quite warped imaginations.


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Many Shades’ Spring Festival 2017

With the excitement of the Hawks’ end of season shenanigans, I find myself, dear reader, somewhat behind with my reports of the Many Shades’ antics. So, the best way to get back on track is probably by way of some unadulterated plagiarism.

Here we go.

Fake News (1) – Fergie proved right after 21 years?
To quote The Independent, 15th April 1996: “The players couldn’t pick each other out,” Ferguson said. “They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads. It was nothing to do with superstition.” And so it was that the inept players of Manchester United scrapped their classy grey kit half-way through their game against Southampton.
But as Jeff Pickering reports: What a incredibly proud moment for the Many Shades of Grey at their own Spring Festival on Sunday. For the first time in their long(-ish) existence, they actually sported a very new, very smart and very befitting grey kit courtesy of an anonymous benefactor.
It was so new, in fact, that the players were still taking the labels out of the shirts and shorts in the changing room prior to the first game. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t too clever in there and a number of  large cardboard labels were still visible sticking out from unmentionable parts as our heroes took to the field.
Nevertheless, they looked resplendent as they lined up for the kick off against festival newcomers Alton.
But wait! Oh no! A colour clash! Wouldn’t you Adam and Eve it! And so it was that on their first time out, the transcendent grey shirts were covered with luminous lime green bibs.
With Alton trying to find their tournament legs and the Many Shades of luminous lime green wishing they’d brought along their ray-bans, a 0-0 draw was probably a fair result.
Whether it was the responsibility of inaugurating the new kit or the fact that the other teams scored more goals than us, but that was the only point we managed to accrue on the day.
Actually, now I think about it, it was probably because it was a clear sunny day that we under-performed. The potential camouflage properties of the kit were not revealed to their full potential. Just you wait until the Autumn festival when a good pea-souper is hanging over Leigh Park.
Then you’ll see a different team. Or probably not.
The Many Shades of Grey squad was John Hicks, Pete Dolamore, Barrie Gray, Barry Ingram, Keith McNeil, John Morgan, Jeff Pickering, and Mick Sidwell.
But having got that football stuff out of the way, it was back to the Westleigh for the real meaning of Walking Football Festivals, and one of Suzette Gray’s wonderful buffets.
Suzette’s buffet was described in the Festival Programme as follows: As Mary Beery said “not a soggy bottom in sight, and Suzette can certainly teach me a thing or two about baking!” Cookery judge Greg Willis chipped in to say “her savoury nibbles are perfect, but she has won me over with her sweets. I definitely want to see Suzette in the next round.”
Doggy bags all round next time.

Fake news (2) – Many Shades of Yellow “wuz robbed”
On a sweltering April afternoon the Many Shades of Yellow, rather harshly described as the “Spongebob Squarepants” team due to the shirt colour, set out on their five-game mission to boldly capture the mighty trophy that has so far eluded every Many Shades side since the inception of our own Festivals back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
With a team packed full of talent, although not much of it football-related, they started brightly with a 1-0 win over Southampton DFA, courtesy of a Joe Mair strike. Later on they beat Alton 3-1 and the Shades of Grey 3-0 with James McIlwaine and Bobby De Ste Croix sharing the goals.
In between there were two 1-0 defeats, firstly to Emsworth & Hayling, who scored a good goal but were put under extended pressure by the Yellows, and it could be argued that E&H were lucky to win. The second defeat to Mountbatten came courtesy of an opportunist goal-poaching moment at the end of a bit of penalty area pin-ball. Once again, with more clinical finishing, the Yellows could have won the match. But they didn’t.
It was good to see Alton WFers joining us for the first time, although with a few local players dropping out they added two overseas players to their squad. Ex-pats Phil Volz and Ian Malpass were both over from Brittany to visit relatives and took the opportunity to get some game time. Phil was also picking brains about how to organise a slightly bigger event than last year’s Grand Tournoi, and it seemed afterwards that he had recruited the enthusiastic Mountbatten WFT into this coming September’s event.
If the final result looks like a runaway walk-over success for Emsworth, don’t let that fool you. Although they won all five games, they came under intense pressure from most sides. Their only “comfortable” win was against the Greys, with all of their other matches decided by the odd goal. In particular the Yellows and Alton both felt that they were unlucky not to get a result against them, with their winning goal against Alton taking a huge deflection to beat the keeper.
Southampton DFA disappointed their many fans, as they didn’t have any of their lady players playing this time — injury and the opportunity to blood a couple of new male signings meant that they were left on the supporters bench. However these new signings mean that they now have a strong enough 60+ squad to enter a team in that age group, and they have put in a request to play in our 60+ OktoberFest.
The Many Shades of Yellow squad was Barry Tindall, Richard Bishop, Bobby De Ste Croix, Steve Hall, Joe Mair, James McIlwaine, Stew Russell, Paul Sealey, and Steve Talman.


Stevo from Emsworth & Hayling picks up the usual much-coveted trophy from Stewart who keeps him well away from the very expensive raffle prizes.