It’s coming home!

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Yes, on World Cup Final day we held our 50+ Summer Walking Football Festival, re-branded as the World Cup Festival, with the reward of watching the game on tv whilst filling our slender tummies with Suzette Gray’s awesome buffet.

The day started with some sweltering weather as this summer’s heatwave showed no signs of giving us a break.  Copious amounts of water were supplied, and consumed.  The WAGs retreated to the shade of the trees, their own executive box with prawn sarnies to follow.

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The WAGs settle down for an afternoon of high quality entertainment

In the first round of matches, the Many Shades of Grey started well with a tough 1-0 win against Solent City, a Rich Bishop left-footer being the difference.  At the same time the Many Shades of Volunteers were fighting out a 0-0 draw with Alton WFers.  Unbeaten so far.  Meanwhile Gosport CS and Emsworth & Hayling also played out a 0-0 draw.

In the second round of matches the Volunteers drew again, this time 1-1 thanks to a John Hicks goal earning the point against Solent City.  The Grey’s second match was a tight encounter against Gosport CS, and finished 0-0.  Unbeaten so far.  In the other match Emsworth earned a comfortable 3-0 win against Alton to go top of the table.

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John clean through on goal

The Greys were then up against Emsworth in a top-of-the-table battle, and thanks in no small part to Darryl Horn in goal another Rich Bishop goal proved to be the winner, and top spot was reached. Sadly the unbeaten tag went as the Volunteers finally succumbed to the well-drilled Gosport side by 2-0.  The other game saw Alton and Solent draw 0-0.

The crunch game then came along, as the Greys faced the Volunteers, and pride was the least of issues on the table.  It was settled in favour of the Greys by a Jeff Pickering goal, the unfortunate Colin Jeffery in the Volunteers’ goal finding out why Jeff’s original nickname at the club was “Thunderboots” [Really, who writes this stuff – Ed].  Meanwhile Emsworth and Gosport both registered 1-0 wins over Solent and Alton respectively.

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On to the final round of matches, and with the heat now a significant factor, it was six very tired teams that took to the field.  The Greys loaned Pete Brown to the Volunteers as they had a couple of players unable to continue in the conditions.  Unfortunately even Pete’s presence couldn’t help the Volunteers as they crashed wearily 4-0 to EmsworthGosport and Solent played out a 0-0 draw, while the Greys needed to avoid defeat to secure the title.  Alton proved a tough nut to crack, and it took a great team move that led to Stew Russell scoring for a much-needed lead.  When Rich Bishop scored again in the second half the win was assured, and it finished 2-0.

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CJ was kept busy in goal for the Volunteers

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For once, Steve takes heed of the useful advice on the fence

Final positions:  Many Shades of Grey (13 points), Emsworth & Hayling (10), Gosport CS (9), Solent City (3), Alton WFers (2, goal diff -6), and Many Shades of Volunteers (2, goal diff -7).

Squads were: Greys: Darryl Horn, Barry Ingram, Pete Dolamore, Stew Russell, Jeff Pickering, Pete Brown, Rich Bishop, Bobby De Ste Croix; Volunteers: Colin Jeffery, Barrie Gray, Keith McNeil, Ian Warren, Martyn Bishop, Steve Talman, John Hicks.  Landmarks for Stew Russell who reached 200, and Colin Jeffery who reached 100, Many Shades appearances on the day.

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Huge thanks to Graham Wilson, Dave Lester, and Dave Rowbrey for their patient and consistent refereeing (no VAR, so no confusion).  Of course, great thanks as well to Suzette and Natalie for their fantastic buffet.  Well done to Solent City who earned themselves a round of drinks by correctly predicting that France would be playing in the Final.

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Also thanks are due to our photographer Geoff Maunder whose album of the day is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/138981462@N02/albums .

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