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.
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.
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.