Champione, Champione, ole, ole, ole!

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Solent League Champions… unbelievable performance

On Sunday 25th November, just a week after qualifying by coming second in our Autumn Festival, the Many Shades were playing in the Solent League Finals.  With such difficult opposition as Eastleigh Dambusters and last week’s winners Gosport Neanderthals we knew we would be in for a tough afternoon.  Let the match report of our first match against Knightwood commence….

Goal!  Robbing Knightwood straight from their kick-off, swift interplay between James McIlwaine and Pete Brown saw Pete slot home within ten seconds.  What a start!  It got better as well, as Pete added a second before we wrapped it up with a third from Mark Hughes in the second half. In what had been expected to be a tough opener we had exceeded those expectations to win 3-0.

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Ian ensures he keeps one foot on the ground at all times

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Mark teasing the Knightwood defenders

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Jeff on target but thwarted by the Knightwood keeper

Next up we were faced by our old old nemesis Eastleigh Dambusters.  We hit the post.  Eastleigh hit the post.  Then we scored through a  sublime Mark Hughes finish, and nearly added a second. But Eastleigh battled back, pinning us in our own half for long periods, until eventually they found enough of a gap to equalise.  So it finished 1-1, the first time we had ever not lost to them!

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None shall pass – Barry holds firm in defence

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Dave, Mark and Jeff lay siege to the Eastleigh goal

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More solid defending required – this time from Chris

Next up were Southampton Strollers, and this was an equally even match.  But in one of those moments that hints that it might be your day after all, a speculative long shot from Pete Brown wriggled past the floundering ‘keeper for the only goal of the game.  The Special One has said it often enough, if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win a raffle.

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James keeps a close eye on the Southampton midfield dynamo

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Barry about to get a nosebleed as he crosses the halfway line

Next we faced Bognor Regis Boulders, and quickly got ourselves in front through a good Mark Hughes finish.  Mark got a second before half-time, and then completed his hat-trick shortly after the break.  After Mark had set up James McIlwaine for a neat tap-in we substituted him for being silly and assisting James.  Substitute Pete Brown capitalised on the opportunity by grabbing a pair of goals for himself, wrapping up a comprehensive 6-0 win.

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Mark opens the scoring – probably

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Ian keeping warm and keeping Bognor at bay

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Pete rounds the Bognor keeper to grab his second – probably

Although the league table showed that we were uncatchable at the top with one game to play, we didn’t want to give anything away, and were keen to gain revenge over Gosport Neanderthals for the defeat they inflicted on us the previous week.  Once we had drawn their early sting, we battered the Gosport goal, with their ‘keeper playing an absolute blinder to keep Mark, Jeff, Pete, and James at bay.  As the final whistles went on the other pitches, our ref kept us going, and it was deep into Fergie Time that Pete Brown finally managed to score from a narrow angle to give us a 1-0 win.  It was tough on Gosport who had played well, but it book-ended the tournament nicely for us, scoring in the very first moments of our opening game and again in the last moments of our final game.

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Chris gets friendly

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Dave upsetting the referee about something or other

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A deft flick by the Gosport striker is closely watched by Pete and Chris

The Many Shades of Grey squad was: John Kennett (g), Ian Warren, Chris Poirrier, Barry Ingram, Dave Hall, Jeff Pickering, Mark Hughes (5 goals), James McIlwaine (1), and Pete Brown (6).  Stew Russell once again shouted at them a lot and made some inspired substitutions.

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Back l-r : John the Hat (Choirmaster of the Many Shades’ Ultras), Jeff, John, Chris, Stew (manager), Ian; Front l-r : Barry, Dave, James, Mark, Pete.

Many thanks to those Many Shades of Supporters who came along and braved a bitter wind to cheer the lads on (and hurl appropriate derision as required).

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James keeps a tight hold on the silverware

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Mark and Pete remain modest about their goal scoring achievements

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We all wish James well with his forthcoming operation to have the trophy removed from his grasp

As ever Geoff Maunder has compiled an album of photos from the day at



50+ 2018 Autumn Festival – you won’t win anything with kids

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It was a bright and sunny November afternoon, a chill wind blowing in from, I don’t know, over there somewhere, and six doughty squads assembled for our final Festival of the year.  With the Many Shades having invested heavily in their youth policy this year (that’s our increasingly well-attended Monday evening sessions for the employed/employable to you) we felt that we were probably fielding our strongest ever side.  A few of the older regulars were reported as missing, presumed dropped.

We opened with a massacre of Southampton DFA.  It was a massacre, in spite of the narrow 1-0 scoreline.  Their goalkeeper played out of his skin, pulling off save after save to deny us the goal-difference boost we deserved.  It took a goal on debut from Mark Hughes to break the deadlock, but really anyone could have been on the scoresheet if not for their ‘keeper.  A bored John Kennett in our goal touched the ball twice.


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Secure in the knowledge that Gosport Neanderthals had “only” drawn with Bognor Regis Boulders in their first game, we were confident that we could take another three points in our second match.  However, a defensive mix-up of “after you”, “no, after you” style was enough to gift them a goal, and no matter how hard we tried our enterprising football couldn’t break them down.


So to Bognor Regis Boulders, and for once we actually turned our dominance into goals, helped it must be said by some calamitous defending for Lloyd Fowler’s early settler and Mark Hughes’ late closer.  In between Pete Brown scored with a good finish to a clinical passing move.

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Next up were Mountbatten WFT, and another of our infamously calamitous starts saw us 1-0 down, and but for a superb save from John Kennett even further in the mire.  A stern talking-to at half-time saw a reinvigorated Many Shades storm back into the match, equalising through another Mark Hughes goal.  This was followed up with a superb team effort carving the defence open and leaving Dave Hall with the simplest of tap-ins to give us the lead.  Shall we mention the even simpler tap-in Dave managed to put over the bar a couple of minutes later?  Yes, why not?  That’s why it only ended 2-1.

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Our final match was against pre-tournament favourites Pompey ITC.  We had to make do without influential youngster Ian Thakore for this game.  He had tweaked a hamstring in the previous game, so the ever-reliable Barry Ingram stepped into the breach.  In a ding-dong game with chances at either end, we came out with a creditable 0-0 draw.

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It was Alan Hansen who famously said that you never win anything with kids.  He was right, the youngsters couldn’t carry us to the top of the table, but we finished a creditable second behind Gosport Neanderthals whose victory over us was the difference.  However that was enough for the Many Shades (along with third placed Bognor Boulders) to qualify for the Solent League Finals, to be played at Park Community the following Sunday.  Pompey, Mountbatten, then Southampton finished 4th, 5th, and 6th.

Back to the Westleigh again, for yet another superb buffet from Suzette and Natalie Gray.


The Many Shades squad for this Festival was: Back l-r : Stew Russell, Jeff Hooper, John Kennett, Chris Poirrier, Ian Thakore, Pete Brown; Front l-r : Dave Hall, Barry Ingram, James McIlwaine, Lloyd Fowler, Mark Hughes.

They were badly managed by Stew Russell [Stew’s words, not mine – Ed], and loaned Pete Dolamore to Southampton DFA for the afternoon.

Many thanks again to Geoff Maunder for the excellent photos.
The full album can be found here.


Costa Festival update – not our cup of tea

Defensive Errors prove Costly [see what I did there – Ed]

Thanks again to Stew for the report:

Sometimes it just ain’t meant to happen, and Sunday 28th October was one of those days.  When a squad with an average age of 61 and a bit plays in a 50+ tournament, you know that at least a bit of the wall has been scribbled on even before you get there.  When you give the ball away in and around the penalty area as often as we did that afternoon, the writing gets writ that bit larger.

We opened with a “shouldn’t really have happened” 1-0 defeat against Knightwood Park,  disappointing because we more than matched them, but just couldn’t get the goal we needed.  This was followed by a rather inevitable 3-0 loss to Emsworth White, who were tournament favourites and probably as strong an Emsworth side as they could field.

Next, however, were Emsworth Red, and in spite of them fielding a decent squad against us, goals from Ian Warren (a wonderful bit of anticipation and clinical finishing), Chris Poirrier (his first for the club), and Stew Russell (in off the post) turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-2 win.
[Bloody hell, Stew. Bearing in mind the competition, surely you should have stressed how we “ground out a result” – Ed]

That wasn’t quite as good as it got, as due to a quirk of the fixture list we sat out the next two rounds of the event.  This proved slightly providential as the rain that had threatened all day chose those two match slots to open up in torrents.  And that was as good as our luck got!

Next we fell to another 1-0 defeat that could have gone better, as we struggled to adjust to the pace of the rain-slicked surface against Pelham Park.  It didn’t get much better as in the next game we also lost, this time to Mountbatten WFT by 2-0.  [Was that a “double shot”? I’ll get my coat – Ed]
Neither of these defeats really felt deserved, but as we have said, if
you make the mistakes we made, you can’t really expect any charity.

We finished with a 0-0 draw against Gosport Neanderthals (formerly Gosport Civil Service), which seemed a fair result in all honesty, and then a 2-1 defeat to Ryde.  We should have beaten Ryde, but we didn’t.  A couple of tired defensive errors led to them first equalising, and then overtaking Pete Brown’s excellent first-half finish.

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Your Many Shades of Grey squad for the Costa Cup was: Back (l-r) : Frank Anthony, Stew Russell, Chris Poirrier, John Kennett (g), Pete Dolamore; Front  (l-r) : Pete Brown, Jeff Pickering, Barry Ingram & Ian Warren.

He’s running, ref!!

Should you happen to have been down Southsea the other Sunday, you may have recognised one of the shirts that flashed past during the Great South Run.

Our very own Jeff Pickering completed the 10 mile course sporting the Many Shades Double Double shirt.

According to Jeff, he actually heard “at least one person” shout out “Ooh, a Hawks shirt”.
He added “I tried to explain that the garment was actually commemorating our recent awards recognising the significant role that the Many Shades Walking Football team plays in the local community and the support and comradeship it provides to so many people – but I was out of breath so the message may not have been as clear as it could have been”.

Jeff has asked that anyone wishing to recognise his efforts should consider purchasing one or more Many Shades of Grey Havant Lottery tickets. Details can found here.


Many Shades host 60+ tournament

Two sides from the Many Shades hosted six other over-60s teams at Park Community School on a hot and sunny 7th October Sunday afternoon.  With eight sides playing for the first time in one of our festivals, it was going to be a long afternoon, with matches starting at 12.00 and scheduled to finish at 3.00.  With so many matches (28 altogether), it is impossible to accurately report on them  apart from the bare bones, so here goes.

Our first team to play was the Many Shades of Turquoise, who narrowly beat Pompey ITC 70+ squad by 1-0.  The Pompey side were warming up for the National 70+ Finals in Nottingham two weeks later.  The Many Shades of Yellow then got off to a decent start, drawing 1-1 with eventual joint-winners Mountbatten WFT.

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In the next round of games the Turquoises beat the wonderfully named South Bucks and Chiltern Keen-agers by the odd goal, while the Yellows were going down 0-1 to much-improved Bognor Regis Boulders.

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Then came the crunch game-Turquoises against Yellows.  Obviously no quarter given or taken, and in the end the Turquoises overcame the stubborn Yellows 2-0.

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With games coming thick and fast, the Turquoises then barely had time to gather breath before drawing 1-1 with Emsworth & Hayling, and then the Yellows were unlucky to go down 2-1 to Pompey ITC.

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In the seventh round of matches, the Yellows were again unfortunate to lose 2-1 to Gosport CS, while on the next pitch the Turquoises were being held to a 1-1 draw by Mountbatten.  Then yet again the Yellows lost by a single goal, this time to Emsworth & Hayling, before the Turquoises comfortably beat Bognor 2-0.

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In their final games, the Yellows were undone by another 1-0 scoreline, this time to the Keen-agers, while the Turquoises drew 0-0 with Gosport CS.

In the end, the Yellows were somewhat undeservedly bottom of the league, having lost six out of seven games, all but one by the odd goal.  So near, yet so far. They actually scored more goals than Bognor, who finished fifth on 9 points!  Meanwhile the Turquoises finished joint top with Mountbatten, both sides having 15 points, and scoring 8 and conceding 2, and drawing in their Festival match.  Pompey were 3rd (10pts), Gosport 4th (9), Bognor Boulders 5th (9), Emsworth & Hayling 6th (8), and South Bucks & Chiltern 7th (7).

Squads were: Yellows: Keith McNeil, Pete Dolamore (1 goal), Mick Sidwell, Keith Huet, James McIlwaine (1), Graham Nobbs, Dave Todman, and Bobby De SteCroix (1). Turquoises: Colin Jeffery, Barry Ingram, George Peters, IanWarren (1), Stew Russell, Rich Bishop (4), Martyn Bishop (1), and Keith Gwilym (2).

Huge thanks as ever to our referees, of which we had four this time: Graham Wilson, Dave Lester, Kev Rapley, and Adrian Haley.

Even huger thanks to Jacqui Greethurst, Jenni Warren, and Roma Bishop for providing us with a wonderful buffet afterwards.

All photos provided by Geoff Maunder and are gratefully received.
The full album of Geoff’s photos are available by clicking here or by googling “Geoff Maunder October Walking Football”.



Many Shades on the Road – Tournament Update

Prospecting for silver in Swindon brings no reward

With a distinct lack of clean sheets and points on the board,  the journey back from Swindon on 19th August was something of an autopsy rather  than a celebration.  The conclusion, and recommendation to the Coroner, was that County Championship sides shouldn’t play in Twenty20 matches.

Although “headless chickens” is a touch unfair, it serves another analogy in that being more used to wide open spaces and three touch football, your free-range walking footballers certainly failed to thrive in the indoor battery environment of cages and unlimited touch that PlayFootball Swindon provided.

Opening against Wiltshire 1, their first team, drawn from across the county, we found ourselves 5-0 down at half-time and “lucky to have nil”.  Deciding that we needed to take more shots   –  as the Special One says, “You can’t win a raffle if you don’t buy a ticket” – Stew Russell took a pot shot straight from second half kick-off, and one wicked deflection later we saw an unlikely comeback on the cards.  Then they scored two more, and the comeback didn’t happen.  So it finished 7-1.

The next game was against Wiltshire 3, their third team, drawn from across the county, and we quickly went into a 2-0 lead courtesy of Pete Brown’s double.  Things were looking up.  Then just before half-time they got one back.  In the space of two second half minutes Wiltshire 3 managed to score three more, and although Pete managed to complete his hat-trick, it wasn’t enough and it finished in a 4-3 defeat.

Next up were SC Wootton, and once again we were undone by some slick inter-passing and off-the-ball movement.  In the blur of it all, it is difficult remember the half-time score, but the final score was another comprehensive defeat, this time by 5-1, with our goal coming from a smart Lloyd Fowler finish.

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Lloyd holds court in the bar, no doubt describing his goal,
although his wife seems less than impressed

Now came our final game, and we knew that we couldn’t come second or even third in the five-team group, and therefore the semi-final and final were out of our reach.  It was against Keynsham, who had previously beaten Wilts 3 quite convincingly.  Déjà vu came upon us again, and we found ourselves 4-0 down at half-time.  However, a little more determination in the second half, coup/led with another Lloyd Fowler goal, meant that we ended up at least winning another half of a match, the final score being 4-1 to Keynsham.

The squad for this tournament, depleted by late injuries to Steve Hall and Rich Bishop, was the shell-shocked Colin Jeffery in goal, who was let down by any combination of: Barry Ingram, Pete Dolamore, Stew Russell, Jeff Pickering, Lloyd Fowler and Pete Brown.

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A shell-shocked CJ adjourns to the bar


Maidenhead McMillan Coffee Morning – Charity event raises £1300.58

The Many Shades sent a squad up the A3 to Maidenhead again on 29th September, the third year we have attended their McMillan Coffee Morning Event.

Our guest reporter for the day, Pete Dolamore, takes up the story :

We entered the tournament with a playing squad of eight plus Colin Jeffery in reserve.  On arrival we registered, changed, and warmed up in accordance with the detailed plan evolved by our coach S Gale.  Our coach for the day was Bobby, who should take credit for all that worked well (and blame for all the rest? – Ed).  Our team Manager for the day was Peter Dolamore who did an excellent job in relevant areas.

We were in a league of six teams, and our first fixture was an easy affair, it was as though the opposition, Wilts FC, were not there… they weren’t.

The next game was against the hosts Maidenhead United, and the whole squad saw action as we won 5-0.  In the third scheduled game we won 1-0 against Rivermead.  This game was not without incident, Rich Bishop being pulled up by the referee due to what we would describe as “mild violent conduct” (?).

On to game four against the GX Wanderers side, this one ending in a hard and competitive 0-0 draw, but only after a verbal disagreement by Dave Hall with the referee concerning a high clearance by him.  When Dave was calmed down by the eternal diplomat Pete Dolamore, he had to leave the pitch having hurt his back.  Dave made a miraculous recovery after some treatment by a young and attractive sports physio.  In the last match in the league we lost 2-1 to Abingdon Almost Athletic, this despite some sterling performances by Barry Ingram and Bobby De Ste Croix, with great saves in goal from Dave Rowbrey.

Then on to the semi-finals, indeed a well-deserved position for us.  Due to some bad luck we lost 2-1 after a magnificent effort against a very good and well-drilled Highworth side.  Unfortunately in the 3rd/4th play-off we lost to Bracknell by the only goal, much to the annoyance of James McIlwaine who wanted a medal and to be photographed with the Mayor of Maidenhead!

In summary a great effort by a good squad of players giving their all for the club, funding the trip themselves, and for all the right reasons being oticed on a charity day by others attending and the organising team.

The squad:  Dave Rowbrey, Barry Ingram, Dave Hall, Pete Dolamore, Lloyd Fowler, James McIlwaine, Rich Bishop, and Bobby De Ste Croix.  Goals from Lloyd (5) and Rich (3).

Congratulations to Pete Dolamore whose appearance against Maidenhead was his 200th for the Many Shades, a milestone rewarded by presentation of a Hawks shirt named and numbered “DOLAMORE 200”.