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 .

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.

Spring Festival reveals new shirts and new winners

After some off-field drama surrounding the preparation for this Festival, most notably the withdrawal of two guest teams in the final days leading up to it, we were blessed on 20th May with a glorious day and some scintillating walking football from some enthusiastic teams. To address the drop-out problem, we recruited a second Many Shades side – The Many Shades of Volunteers – and a mixed side “the All Stars”, from all of the guest teams as well as a few Many Shades players. The original squad were resplendent in their brand new white Hawks shirts.

The day opened with the Many Shades of White romping to a 5-0 victory over Bognor Regis Boulders, but controversy reigned as James McIlwaine claimed four of them, Bobby De Ste Croix one of them, and Jeff Pickering the other. Which makes six. We decided James must have got three. Meanwhile the Volunteers were losing 2-1 to a lively Gosport CS, with Rich Bishop scoring their goal.

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Barry in full flight against Bognor


Unfortunately, ref Lee Roberts was waiting for him with a yellow card

In the next round of matches, the Volunteers beat the All Stars 2-1, with goals from Ian Warren and another from Rich BIshop, and the consolation coming from Pete Dolamore. Meanwhile the Whites were holding Gosport 0-0, and expensive game as they lost goal threat James with a deep muscle injury.
The third round of matches saw the Volunteers up against the Whites, and in a tense and close match a Rich Bishop goal settled it. Rich also struck the post from a penalty, awarded for a trip on Ian; CJ claims he saved it, but he never got near it. Meanwhile Pete Dolamore was scoring twice more as the All Stars beat Bognor 3-1.
In what turned out to be his fiftieth appearance for the Many Shades, the Volunteers’ Martyn Bishop finally got on the scoresheet against the doughty Bognor Boulders, enough to earn a 1-0 win. At the same time a Jeff Pickering hat-trick for the Whites was seeing off Mountbatten by a 3-1 scoreline.

The final round of matches saw the Whites being held to a 0-0 draw by the improving All Stars. On the next pitch the Volunteers slipped to a 2-0 half-time deficit against Mountbatten, courtesy of being caught upfield for one and a superb turn and finish for the other. However a stunning second-half comeback saw them turn it completely around and win 3-2 thanks to a Rich Bishop hat-trick.
Back to the Westleigh for another of Suzette and Natalie’s “probably the best buffet in the world”, and the presentation of the prestigious trophy. The final league table read: Gosport CS 13pts; Many Shades of Volunteers 12pts; Many Shades of White 8pts; Mountbatten WFT 4pts; All Stars 4pts; Bognor Regis Boulders 1pt.


Spot the goalkeeper!
Well done to Gosport – thanks to Alan Powell for the photo

Squads were: Many Shades of White: Colin Jeffery (g), Barry Ingram, Barry Tindall, Paul Sealey, Jeff Pickering, James McIlwaine, Bobby De Ste Croix, and Matt Bartolo. For the Many Shades of Volunteers: Keith McNeil (g), Ian Warren, Barry Carter, Mick Sidwell, Stew Russell, Rich Bishop, and Martyn Bishop. Thanks to Pete Dolamore, John Morgan and George Peters who joined up with the All Stars.

Thanks must go to Graham Wilson, Darren Welch and Lee Roberts who all refereed very well, and to Barrie Gray who acted as our central timekeeper.

A day out at Fratton Park brings yet more silverware for the Many Shades

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Given the chance to play on the lush sward of Fratton Park, twenty of the Many Shades players descended on the stadium in the early morning of 16th May to play in the Pompey ITC Spring Walking Football Tournament. With one of the planned seven teams dropping out, and the matches being six-a-side, we rearranged from being two sides with squads of ten to three sides of six outfield players plus our two goalkeepers (to be shared between the three sides). So we had the Many Shades of Yellow, Orange, and Green.


Pete puts pressure on the Oranges’ goal

With small goals and no access to the penalty areas, we predicted a lot of 0-0 draws, and sure enough the Greens started with just that against Pompey 1. The Oranges then picked up a great 1-0 win against Basingstoke, courtesy of a Steve Hall goal. The Yellows then beat the Greens 2-0 courtesy of goals from Bobby De Ste Croix and Pete Dolamore, before Pompey 2and the Oranges drew 0-0.


More pressure from the Yellows as Paul attempts a shot on goal

Bobby was on the scoresheet again along with Rich Bishop as the Yellows beat Basingstoke 2-0, before the Greens were held 0-0 by AFC Bournemouth. The Oranges then beat Pompey 1 thanks to a thunderbolt of a goal from Derek Trapp, his lifetime ambition to score at the Fratton End achieved. Bournemouth and the Yellows, followed by the Oranges against the Greens both ended 0-0, before a third goal of the day from Bobby proved to be the decisive strike against the powerful Pompey 2.

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The Oranges and Greens battle out a hard fought 0-0 draw

The Oranges then played out two consecutive 0-0 draws against Bournemouth and the Yellows before the Greens beat Basingstoke 1-0 thanks to a stunning Carlo Macri strike. Predictably enough, with the title already won, the Yellows and the Greens played out 0-0 draws against Pompey 1 and Pompey 2 respectively to close out the Tournament.

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The title winners, and recipients of a very impressive trophy, were the Many Shades of Yellow, represented by Darryl Horn (g), Stew Russell, Pete Dolamore, Paul Sealey, Rich Bishop, Matt Bartolo, and Bobby De Ste Croix. The Oranges were James McIlwaine (g), Ian Warren, Pete James, Steve Hall, Barry Gray, Derek Trapp, and Colin Baker. For the Greens, Darryl and James shared goalkeeping duties, and were joined by Barry Ingram, Barry Carter, John Morgan, Graham Nobbs, Jeff Hooper, and Carlo Macri.


Stewart and the Many Shades of Yellow collect the solid silver trophy

Many thanks to Geoff Maunder and Tash Stephens for the photos.

For many more of Geoff’s superb photos, please click here and then on the Walking Football album.


Bognor Regis Festival brings record win

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The day after the Hawks had clinched the National League South title in such dramatic, emotionally draining, and euphoria-inducing style, the Many Shades of Grey went to the  Graveyard of Dreams to tread the very turf that Dartford’s players and fans had so disappointingly trudged off only some 19 hours earlier.  Yes, Nyewood Lane was hosting Bognor’s first festival.  Two mini-leagues, each team having five matches of 2x 8 minutes, followed by a knock-out phase of 2x 10 minute matches to decide some trophies at the end.

The opposition goalkeepers looked a formidable bunch

It has to be said that the Many Shades were slow out of their blocks.  Following the previous evenings celebrations, there were some, shall we call them “cobwebs”, still to be dusted off.  So it was that we lost 1-0 to Brighton Dolphins in a match that we were actually quite competitive in.  Next up were Tadley Statin Strollers, and we kind of woke up a little for that one, but only after going 2-0 down.  An opportunistic Stew Russell goal, followed by a great Pete Dolamore thunderbolt dragged us back into the game, but sadly Tadley ran out 4-2 winners.

Next we found ourselves up against the might of Emsworth & Hayling’s first choice team, but because we know their strengths we were able to put on a solid and well-organised team performance, and held them to a 0-0 draw.

Our fourth game was against Southampton Strollers, who somehow beat us 2-1, a Bobby De Ste Croix finish giving us some hope.  If we couldn’t understand how we had failed to win a game so far, our perplexity only increased as our final league game against Gosport Civil Service unfolded.  With one shot on target from their only worthwhile attack, Gosport somehow held on for a 1-0 win. That put us firmly at the bottom of our league, which meant that we won the booby prize  –  a stick of Bognor Rock each!  To prove that football really is a funny old game, our draw against Emsworth was not only the only point we got, it was the only game they didn’t win!

With our usual photographer spending most of the afternoon either on the pitch or in the bar, Pete once again nobly grappled with iphone camera.

For the next phase we were entered in the “Silver Cup” competition, against the lower finishers of the two leagues.  We were drawn against the second-bottom side from the other league.  It seems harsh that our hosts, Bognor Regis Boulders, should be the victims of the single most ruthless and dominant performance ever by a Many Shades side.  Somehow this bunch of losers finally shook off those cobwebs, and walked away with a stunning, shocking, ridiculous 10-0 victory.  Hat-tricks apiece from Pete Brown, James McIlwaine, and Bobby De Ste Croix, all topped off with a really unfortunate own-goal, gave us our record win.

The plate final was against Tadley Statin Strollers, and after our earlier somewhat shambolic defeat to them, we were determined to carry our new-found form into this game.  And for once, we did.  It finished a fairly comfortable win, with two goals each from Bobby and James earning us a 4-1 victory and the “Silver Cup”.

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So, there was some redemption, and the squad that earned your Many Shades that record win and somewhat unusual silver trophy was (l-r) Barry Ingram, Colin Jeffery (g), Pete Dolamore, James McIlwaine, Jeff Pickering, Bobby De Ste Croix, John Hicks, Stew Russell and Pete Brown.

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Galey proudly parades the trophy after Monday’s training session

Congratulations to Jeff Pickering who now joins the exclusive 100-club of Stew Russell and Pete Dolamore by reaching his century of appearances.  Next up should be Barry Ingram, right now sitting on a tantalising 99, followed by Rich Bishop who is currently on 96.

Rich Bonsey Memorial 60+ Festival

On Sunday 22nd April we met at Park Community School to remember our former player and club stalwart Rich Bonsey, who died of cancer on 25th April 2017.  As well as the walking football, there was a raffle and quiz night to follow.  Having extorted additional match fees out of guest teams and then plundered them for raffle tickets and prizes, the profit from the day was to go to Southampton University’s Cancer Immunology Research.

The Many Shades got out of the blocks well, and in no time were 1-0 up against Bognor Regis Boulders, thanks to James McIlwaine’s fine finish.  However the strikers decided that charity was order of the day, and conspired to miss at least six good chances before Derek Pope finally decided to put one away.  With Bognor on the rocks, Bobby De Ste Croix wrapped up a 3-0 win for us.


With his dedicated fan club in attendance, Stew was determined to put on a show

Next up was a tough game against pre-tournament favourites Pompey ITC.  Slightly against the run of play, James squeezed home a first-half goal, and from that point on it was a little like the Alamo as Pompey played some excellent football that was well matched by the Many Shades’ well-drilled defence.  Particular mention must go to the inspired Player of the Festival, goalie Colin Jeffery, whose performance earned us a 1-0 win.


With Bobby looking on, Rich moves in on Nick from Pompey ITC

The Many Shades then met a solid and enterprising Fleet of Foot side, who as winners of our previous 60+ Festival were no push-over.  A tense game ended 0-0.


Barry T in full flow


A busy CJ in goal tips a shot onto the upright


Unwisely, Derek gets his backside in the way of one of Rich’s piledrivers

Mountbatten were our next opponents, and they had only narrowly lost to Pompey, and drawn their other matches, so were not going to be easy.  It took the “Goal of the Festival” from Bobby to open the scoring, a stunning finish into the top corner from some distance.  With Mountbatten having to push forward after this, an opportunity arose for Rich Bishop to score from just inside the area, and a 2-0 win seemed a fair result.


Rich drives one into the box with James ready to pounce

The Many Shades’ final game was against Emsworth & Hayling, who were coming off a totally uncharacteristic 5-0 hammering by Pompey.  Beware the wounded animal, and sure enough they put up a very hard-working performance, scoring the only goal that CJ conceded all day.  Fortunately goals from Rich and Bobby (2) saw us comfortably home by a 3-1 scoreline.

The final positions on the day were the Many Shades first with 13 points from five games, Pompey ITC second (12), followed by Fleet of Foot (8), Emsworth & Hayling (5), Mountbatten WFT (2), and finally Bognor Regis Boulders (1).

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Your Many Shades squad was: (back) Derek Pope, Barrie Gray (Timekeeper-in-chief), Bobby De Ste Croix, Rich Bishop, Barry Ingram, Tindall, Pete Dolamore. (front) Colin Jeffery (g), James McIlwaine, Stew Russell

We all returned to the Westleigh for the buffet and presentation.  For the first time in all of the Festivals that the Many Shades have put on, we actually won one – at the NINETEENTH attempt!!!  Derek Pope proudly accepted the trophy on our behalf.

The buffet of course was our true highlight of the day, and once again Suzette and Natalie did us proud, with yet another Probably the best Walking Football Buffet in the World.  The quiz night was won by the very talented Mountbatten WFT team, who made early but effective use of their joker.

Overall winner of the day was of course the fundraising for Southampton University Cancer Immunology Research, which benefited to the tune of £341.21 after expenses. 

Havant Borough Community Lottery

We are very pleased to announce that The Many Shades of Grey has been deemed a worthy cause by 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, please click here or see below.

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