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”.


Mad dogs and walking footballers …

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With Public Health England issuing a “heatwave alert” and the Daily Express predicting the hottest day since the Precambrian period, some sensible precautions were taken during Thursday morning’s training session.

Firstly, protective headwear and sunglasses were de rigeur proving that the Many Shades can remain both fashionable and cool.

Secondly, regular fluids were taken on board to maintain hydration levels.

Adhering to these precautions and taking regular breaks meant that everyone survived the session and made it back to the Westleigh in one piece for a well-earned cuppa.

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Of course, Barrie has his own method of keeping cool!

N.B. If Mrs. Gray is reading this, I should stress that this is a photoshopped image and at no time was Barrie in the club on Thursday lunchtime drinking Kronenbourg lager when he should have been working. Probably.

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But despite all our efforts, the extreme heat just got to some people. Here Stew can be seen taking advantage of Martin’s pitch sprinkler system.
So, if you’re at the Wimbledon friendly on Friday evening and spot a Stew-shaped dry patch of turf on the Westleigh Park pitch, you now know why.


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 .

NL Trust Award winners – again!

With the temperature at Westleigh Park high in the 80’s (or 30’s in new money) and the Daily Express claiming, probably, that Havant was hotter than Honolulu, the Many Shades found themselves on the hallowed turf at half time during the Hawks’ pre-season friendly v. Portsmouth to collect the National League Trust Award for Best Project for Older People.

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With Stewart holding tightly on to the trophy and the cheque, handshaking duties fell to John Morgan. Many thanks to Brian Lee MBE from the National League Trust who battled with the pre-World Cup quarter final traffic to make the presentation.

The more retentive amongst you will recall that this is not the first time we have received this award. A similar presentation was made by the National League Trust in 2016. A big pat on the back is due to all in the Havant & Waterlooville Community team and to our own Stewart Russell for all their hard work.

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Stewart shows off the trophy to the Hawks v. Portsmouth crowd whilst holding his tummy in. Who says men can’t multi-task?

Stew reaches 200 not out

Many congratulations (if that’s the right word) are due to our chief cook and bottle washer, Stewart Russell, who has reached the remarkable figure of 200 appearances for the Many Shades of Grey.

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To mark the achievement, Stew was presented with a duly bedecked Hawks shirt. Bobby and James were on hand to add some glamour to the occasion.


Many Shades recognised by HFA – again

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The Many Shades of Grey repeated their success of 2016 by winning the 2018 Hampshire FA Walking Football Club of the Year Award.

So it was on with our Sunday best, despite it being a Saturday, and all off to St. Mary’s stadium to collect the award.

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A few of the lads enjoying the buffet before the presentations.
(l-r) Pete B, Pete D, Rich, Bobby & Barry

and the winners are (2)

Stewart collects the award from Steve Yeomans, Finance Director at Hampshire FA.
(l-r) Barry, Rich, Steve Yeomans, Pete B, Pete D, Stew, Jeff & Mick
Photo used by kind permission of Hampshire FA.

Further photos of the evening are available to view and to purchase prints here.



Surely Derek will buy us a trophy cabinet now.

Congratulations also go to Hawks own Henry Deacon who was presented with the Hampshire FA Outstanding Male Leader Award for his work as Media Officer at Westleigh.
Well Done Henry from all the Many Shades.