Many Shades of 2018

2018 was an incredibly busy year for your favourite walking football team. Here is a quick reminder of a few of the highlights.

January saw the tenth anniversary of the Hawks’ famous run in the FA Cup. The Many Shades marked this occasion with a 60+ tournament. Fleet of Foot ran out the eventual winners just ahead of the Many Shades of Yellow and a long way ahead of the Many Shades of Grey. Details here.

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February saw the release of a Hants FA commissioned film about walking football which featured our January Festival. The final cut can be viewed here.

brought very exciting times at Westleigh Park with the Hawks’ first team pushing hard for promotion to the National League. Easter weekend saw many of the Many Shades helping out with the pitch covers to ensure that weekend’s crunch match with Weston-Super-Mare went ahead. More photos of welly-clad folk here.

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April was a particularly busy month with the Many Shades supporting (and winning) a Football For Cancer Charity day tournament which raised over £7,000 for the FFC fund. Well done to CJ for pulling together the walking football aspects of the day.

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also saw us remembering Rich Bonsey with the, now, annual 60+ memorial festival. For the first time in 19 attempts, the Many Shades were victorious at one of its own festivals. A raffle and quiz followed with all proceeds going Southampton University Immunology Research. More photos here.

— Warning : blatant bullying attempt about to happen!!

Also in April, The Many Shades of Grey were accepted as a worthy cause for 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 and to enrol, please click here.

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Bullying attempt over – back to the review …

The end of the April brought wild celebrations to Westleigh Park following the Hawks’ last gasp victory v. Concord had secured them the league title and promotion to the National League.
Unfortunately, the Bognor festival was held on the following day and, not surprisingly, an emotionally wrecked and just ever so slightly hungover Many Shades got off to a very slow start. However, once the caffeine had kicked in, we went on to win the Silver Cup notching up our biggest ever victory (10-0) against Bognor Boulders en route.
Below can be seen the Special One parading the fine specimen of a trophy after the next day’s training session. Full report here.

I’m sure we’ll all agree that we don’t all do what we do for awards but it is nice to be recognised now and again. And so it was in June that we put on our Sunday best to collect the Hampshire FA Walking Football Club of the Year Award for the second time. Full report here.

This tremendous achievement was followed up in July with us collecting the National League Trust Award for Best Project for Older People. Again, this was the second time we had received this award. A well deserved “Double-double” that warranted a limited edition commemorative shirt.

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saw high temperatures across the UK but the Many Shades found appropriate methods to keep cool during training sessions including laying under Martin’s sprinkler. More photos of sweaty over-50’s here.

Despite numerous phone calls to FIFA, they refused to re-schedule their “World Cup Final” which clashed with the Many Shades Summer Festival in July. It was their loss as many forewent the preamble to watch the Many Shades take the real World Cup in style. Lengthier report here.

Jumping forward a bit, November saw perhaps the Many Shades’ greatest performance when, some would say against the odds, we were crowned Solent League Champions. Sporting our new “Snows” shirts, we beat off strong competition in the final round to claim the trophy which, report has it, is still in James’s grasp.
Full report here.

Which brings us to December and the first leg of a Boxing / New Year’s Day double header against our old rivals, the Eastleigh Dambusters. A hard fought match finished 1-1 leaving everything to play for on 1st Jan and the squad under strict orders to get to bed early the night before.

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So there we have it – what a year! Apologies if I’ve missed out your personal favourite; take a look through the blog for a reminder of some of the other Many Shades related goings-on.

A BIG THANK YOU to Stew Russell for organising pretty much everything and thanks to everyone else (you know who you are) for all your time and effort to keep the Many Shades of Grey bandwagon rolling.

Happy New Year Everyone – see you at Eastleigh on New Year’s Day.














Many Shades v. Dambusters – Part 1

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With the Hawks‘ first team at home to the Spitfires in the afternoon, the Boxing Day pre-match entertainment shifted to the Silverlake where Eastleigh Dambusters kindly offered to host the Many Shades to help work off the pigs in blankets and set us up for the evening’s turkey curry. There simply isn’t a pitch open in Havant Borough on a Bank Holiday.

Brilliantly refereed to Hampshire FA’s rules, two evenly matched sides battled through four 12-minute quarters. It is difficult to pick out moments of particular noteworthiness from the first quarter, as the Many Shades played a very competent and effective possession game, but had to be alert to Eastleigh’s counters when they got on the ball.  John Kennett in goal pulled off one particularly good save to keep them at bay, but otherwise it was a good shift from everyone.

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Pete B turns on a sixpence

The second quarter saw substitutions to ensure that everyone got a game, and there was no real change to the pattern of the match, with chances few and far between as defences dominated and both goalkeepers looked assured. Keeping much the same side for the first half of the third quarter, we hoped to draw the Dambusters’ sting and use our fresher legs to good effect in the final quarter.

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Lloyd fires in a shot

It looked as if we had managed the tactical substitution game perfectly when mid-way through the final quarter Lloyd Fowler finally broke the deadlock with a cross-shot just inside the far post. However Eastleigh simply redoubled their efforts, and eventually a shot was well blocked by John only for the ball to spin up and over him and under the bar.

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You put your left leg in –
James gets in some hokey cokey practice in preparation for hogmanay

Your Many Shades of Grey players for the day were John Kennett, Barry Ingram, Pete Dolamore, Mick Sidwell, Keith Huet, debutant Phil Hannam, Jeff Pickering, Lloyd Fowler, James McIlwaine, and Pete Brown.
Stew Russell shouted at them a lot. [Didn’t he just – Ed]

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So, with the tie evenly poised at 1-1, we return to Silverlake on New Year’s Day for the “away” leg with everything to play for.


Highworth Christmas Cup – our day out at the Swindome

So it was that an intrepid few once again ventured to Swindon early on the Sunday morning of 2nd December; an early start to get there by 9.30am.  The venue this time was the Swindome, part of Swindon Supermarine’s excellent complex.  It is an indoor arena, with a small-ish full-sized pitch and very welcoming facilities.  The tournament was run under WFA rules, with two referees from the WFA there to ensure there was no running and no physical contact.  Or not.

No unsophisticated CCTV here at the Swindome

We opened against Cheltenham Spartacus,and played a good solid game, with periods when both sides were in the ascendency.  It took a spectacular shot from near half-way that bent just inside the post to beat goalkeeper John Kennett, and that proved to be the difference between the sides as it finished 0-1.

Next on our fixture list was Trowbridge, who proved to be a very mobile and quite physical side, so they fitted in well with the WFA philosophy of no contact and no running (?).  A good tackle from Stew Russell saw the opponent follow through with his attempted shot, that contact later proving to have chipped a toe-bone and twisted Stew’s knee. Inevitably their speed and pressure took its toll, and we slipped to another 1-0 defeat.

Our next match was against Oxford United B,and although we also lost this one 1-0, it was far closer than it sounds. Stew had a goal disallowed for having a foot inside the penalty area, and Pete Dolamore hit the post with a long-range effort.

                                 The very excitable crowd even before kick off

We had a long gap between matches now, and took advantage of the Prostate Cancer UK cakes and teas/coffees that were on sale at £1 each  –  we helped them raise over £250 by doing so, and it possibly wasn’t us that spent all of that!

The cake selection before the Many Shades hunted it down

Next in line for us were table-topping hosts Highworth Reds, who had just thumped Trowbridge, so we knew we were in for a hard game.  The fact that they beat us 2-0 hides a little bit of the quality of our performance, as one of the goals was a penalty when one of our elder statesmen stepped into our own penalty area by accident, and the other was a defensive error.

So to our last game, against Rivermead. They were just above us with two draws in their four games, so we hoped to beat them to finish fifth out of sixth.  We nearly did.  After falling behind quite early, we got back level thanks to Keith McNeil’s first ever Many Shades goal.  When Pete Brown blasted home a near-post shot it looked as if we might win our first game of the day, but having to use all our subs disrupted the team’s shape and Rivermead levelled to earn a fair and enjoyable draw.

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The very hi-tech scoreboard unfortunately highlighting the Many Shades’ lo-tech position

The Many Shades squad for the Tournament was:
Back (l-r) : Jeff Pickering, Pete Dolamore, Pete Brown, Jeff Hooper, Keith Huet, Stew Russell; Front : Barry Ingram, John Kennett (g), KeithMcNeil,