“The best bet is to keep the six players who hate you , away from the other five who are undecided” – Jock Stein
A page for personal views … mine – AND yours if you let me have them by email please. Topics not exclusively relating to walking football but the traditional game and anything else – no politics or religion…we can all go elsewhere for that kind of controversy: talking balls?…you decide…
Our Eggheads trip….Alan Richards reports…
I’ve motored north to Glasgow and beyond many, many times in my working life and on holidays too but never , ever travelled by rail.
This prospect was every bit as intriguing to me as that of appearing on national telly. Which had at first appeared an unlikely scenario , when suggested to me by my good friend and Nash Ambler’s team mate Garry.
When he first suggested we apply to take on the ‘Eggheads’ I was of course a little sceptical. It was a programme I knew little about really, preferring to watch BBC News at six o’clock more or less every evening. When word came back that the production company wanted us to ‘audition’ in Manchester I began to better acquaint myself with what we may be up against.
Garry was a long time fan of the show. No intellectual slow coach himself, he seemed confident we’d be up to putting in some kind of challenge to the professional know alls, regulary feted as ‘perhaps the best quizzers in Britain’ , each of whom has a range of extensive credentials in the field of quizzing in both general and specialist knowledge.
The audition seemed to go well, with three of the team venturing into Manchester. Garry and I were joined by Colin. Both looking dapper as we turned up at a hotel near Piccadilly Station. Unfortunately I’d managed to trip over an unfeasibly high kerb and send myself sprawling as a tram rolled by feet from the heap I resembled, lying prone on the pavement. A little nonplussed to say the least I dusted myself off , and sallied forth into the unknown. No more trips today please, I mused to myself.
The young production staff from ’12 Yards Media’ who greeted us were friendliness itself, and put us at our ease. We had photographs taken, followed by short interviews which helped them gain a rounder picture of ourselves and our team. Later, we were tested with a few questions of varying difficulty which we all managed to answer a good number correctly.
We also managed to convey a sense of camaraderie, and of what walking football is about and they seemed genuinely interested, not having heard of the game before. This reaction buoyed our confidence (in my case apprehension) , other team mates were interviewed by ‘phone and submitted video auditions. They must have gone well too, as quite rightly just a few days later we were offered the chance to travel north to record an episode of the show.
Two more team members recruited in John and Tony and a required reserve in the shape of Hadge, and the journey in July courtesy of the permanent way became a reality. It was a hot day and the complexities and bustle of Piccadilly Train Station were something of an alien world to me. Almost fifty years earlier I’d boarded a train here to embark upon an R.A.F. career that lasted all of three months!
I hoped for a better experience as we struggled to find seats. The carriage thinnned out a bit as we got north of Preston. I was struck how quiet the train was compared with previous journeys, it seemed to glide much more smoothly over the rails rather than the metronomic clackety-clack of yesteryear.
Alighting in Glasgow we soon found our Hotel for the evening. The ‘Jury’s Inn’ just north of the Clyde. Moderate expenses were paid for the trip and I was beginning to enjoy the experience as we strolled the streets of the ‘second City of the Empire’ a group of friends and acquaintances enjoying something of an adventure. My first in some time.
The Jury was firmly out upon our chances in the quiz but the initial couple of pints of ‘heavy’ went down well as we Amblers perched on bar stools around a table to chat about most things but quizzes. We had the sense to resist the chance of a good booze up until the wee small hours. We did imbibe during what’s been called a ‘Gentleman’s Evening’ , but not to any great excess and we all turned in around midnight.
A peaceful night’s sleep in a room that overlooked the River, the rail tracks directly below. Thankfully triple glazing kept any disturbance to a minimum.
The next morning heads were relatively clear as we breakfasted on Lorne sausage, bacon and the first meaningful ‘eggs’ of the day. The more challenging variety would come later. Would we be fried, or merely scrambled ? The sunny side up approach prevailed…and we wouldn’t be bowled over easy !
In pouring rain a pre-arranged taxi carried us along the banks of the mighty Clyde where ships of old were constructed and launched, and where a million lives were dominated for decades by towering cranes and the leviathan hulks they were building. A unique culture of hard times and hard men in a bygone age of rivetters, welders and demarcation disputes.
The modern re-developments in the old dockside area really struck me. A tired, almost spent landscape revitalised, with modern buildings of glass and steel but where far fewer people will work in this post-industrial age.
The welcome at BBC Scotland’s modern studios was friendly and put us at our ease. Some form filling and then we laid bare our travelling wardrobe for examination. Only the upper body is visible on screen but there must be no corporate or trade logos on show. The team had travelled in Curzon Ashton polo shirts provided by the club, but I’d personally visited the likes of Matalan and Primark to buy some unremarkable gear that fitted the t.v. bill without breaking the bank.
The production professionals chose which of our garments provided the best look, whilst the make-up department tried their level best to make something of our various careworn faces, that the camera, and those studio lights might quite like.
A brushing of powder over mildly fevered brows, and one or two of the team had stubble removed. A light hearted atmosphere gave way to more serious stuff as we were ushered into the business end of the studios. The familiar ‘Eggheads’ set and the intense lights and broadcasting hardware made me realise there was no going back now. Reserve Hadge was taken to a side room, to watch events unfold. The ‘Eggheads’ introduced themselves wth smiles and handshakes, Jeremy Vine entered and was effusive and welcoming, we introduced ourselves on camera in the required way, with varying degrees of one take success. Within minutes the challenge began .
What happened next? Find out on January 23rd. Well worth a walking football watch.
If you can’t wait check out the rehearsals <here>
This is the most appropriate place on the website for a subjective view of November’s F.A. consultation with Andy Dyke. So here it is:
A long, three hour consultation with Andy Dyke of the F.A. last night. The time went quickly, there was much to talk about.
Our ‘delegation’ consisted of John Smith, Garry Pearce, Gordon Nixon and Alan Richards (yours truly).
Several other clubs/groups were represented from as far afield as Fleetwood,and there were sixteen people in the room, organisers from Vintage Celtic and a party from Droylsden and Alfa Lifeline were also represnted. Hosting the evening was Andy Dyke, the affable F.A. community involvement man who was asking our views on seeking a way forward.
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It became clear that even amongst committed and enthusiastic walking footballers there can be limited knowledge of the wider game, and the limited infrastructure that has already developed.
This was a structured discussion ranging from target ‘markets’ for the game. I think I may have preferred target ‘participants’ or key stakeholders as market’s are suggesting money, but that’s just a personal view.
It became clear that the F.A. acknowledge they have been a little slow off the mark regarding walking football. They seem keen to catch up. Views were expressed on their rules (Laws of the Game) which were called into question by a majority in the room. Our own oft stated preference for the W.F.A. ‘s non-contact version was once again expressed. A view not shared by everybody there, which was to be expected.
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The data from the F.A.’s exhaustive 2016 survey was used to demonstrate players attitude to the game and it had revealed that many play for recreation and fun, whilst a substantial number relish competitions. Andy asked how involved the F.A. should get in the organisation of such tournaments, and indeed defining what a tournament actually is, as distinct from a ‘Festival’ perhaps. A light touch approach seemed preferable to the majority.
Talk of ‘national’ tournaments did not garner a great deal of enthusiasm. It was agreed that whatever was planned had to be planned properly. I expressed my view that the EFL competition where walking football teams bearing the names of long established football clubs competed against each other was a mistake – again a purely personal view.
Brief references to international teams and the top down emphasis around World Cups and European tournaments espoused by the WFU/WFA brought little response, and it’s clear from last nights gathering that foundations need to be well established first, whichever organisation is overseeing such developments.
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At Andy’s behest, we also searched for a definition of walking football, in one catchy sentence or pithy phrase. My own rejection of the tired ‘slower version of the beautiful game’ was expressed. Some people liked the term however, whereas I think it is hackneyed, already cliched and alludes too much to the game of football, which in my opinion is wonderful – the best there is in fact – but not ‘beautiful’. Aspects of it can be quite the reverse.
Most of us agreed that there a distinct difference from the game of football itself to walking football. That said, there is clearly an element of men who wish to play a quicker game, where constant running can be overlooked , under a minimal contact ethos. This element is getting larger, and not necessarily defined by age. This ‘hybrid’ game (my term) needs to be channelled away from walking football and Andy appeared to take this on board without offering anything specific – I appreciate it is early days for that. But this needs urgent attention.
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The meeting agreed that the recreational, and ‘well being’ aspect plus the social benefits of walking football are equally, if not more important than tournament play and therein lies the tricky problem of catering for all with the framework of ONE game.
We all stressed the pressing need for Walking Football Referee training and provision. In our view, the game – even at localised internal level – is diminished without a match official, and Gordon Nixon reminded the meeting of the problems that can ensue when they are inexperienced, not assertive, or not interested. All three failings were clearly shown in this years ‘People’s Cup’ for walking football which Andy conceded had not been as well run as it may have been, and said lessons had been learned.
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Questions around promoting the game and attracting new players were addressed and it’s clear that Andy sees this as a fantastic opportunity to attract even more people to a game which was not on the F.A. ( or anyones) radar until comparatively recently.
I mentioned that the prime reason for our Denton group’s imminent affiliation to the W.F.A. was their version of the rules, and he took that on board saying there was no conflict and that affiliation to one organisation need not exclude dealings with the other.
I reminded Andy that the W.F.A and the F.A. have scheduled their own meeting for December and it hoped much good can come from that. Andy said the consultation was an attempt to evolve the F.A.’s approach, I stated that they need to ‘evolve quickly’. This is clearly a crucial time in the games development, we need to know what the game is, who it is for and ideally agree on a single set of rules which can be modified or tweaked at local, fairly informal sessions but harmonised for competitions and leagues. It will always be our view that non-contact is the way to go in this regard.
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It was hoped that clubs and groups would establish dialogue with local County Associations, who have a large degree of autonomy. With that in mind I have asked Sarah Venning at Manchester County F.A. if our meeting to talk about rules – planned for the 20th, November is still going ahead.
In ending this report which is obviously subjective in parts, I’d like to thank Andy Dyke for engaging with us and initialising this consultative process.Alan Richards
Sec/Co-treasurer Denton Walking Football Group (Tameside Striders)
Co-ordinator Curzon Ashton Walking Football (The Nash Amblers)
Post festival reflections…from Alan Richards 10/8/17
I’ve written a summary of the ‘event’ on a more relevant page within this website but as some voices are being raised before the dust has settled on ‘Summer Seventeen’ I do need to express concerns about where we are going as a group of men who want to play the game of walking football the way it was meant to be played, the way it should be played at Denton WALKING Football Group..
By dividing players into age groups (I take most of the responsibility as it was my idea initially)we have allowed two differing types of games to evolve in a relatively short space of time.
We have Over 65 players who have a slightly more cautious approach enjoying a fairly laid back game of ‘pure’ walking football. Yes, people run out of enthusiasm and over exuberance. This happens occasionally and is not a cause of regular stoppages – I speak as a player and as a Referee on that pitch.
This contrasts markedly with the ‘Unders’ next door. Where a stronger ‘winning’ mentality has taken hold of many, not all. Match reports each week seem to include many penalty kicks given for running. Converting a penalty is not easy in this game as more of us found out on Tuesday last. If the kick is missed, or saved – where is the punishment for THREE running offences? We will shortly be holding a committee meeting to discuss the matter of running. We have a hybrid game beginning to develop. Players regularly running – you can call it that but let’s call a spade a spade…they are CHEATING. They are also enjoying the benefits of walking football where serious fouls are extremely rare, shoulder charging and barging is outlawed and there is a largely free and easy mentality whilst NOT BUYING into the core ethos of the game which is meant to be played AT WALKING PACE.
This problem is not just occurring at Denton of course, it’s also seen at Ashton where those who enjoy ‘pure’ walking football would have difficulty keeping up. It’s a problem seen all over the country at various venues.
Increasing physicality is also a feature of some of our games and another development which needs to be nipped in the bud. Don’t be tempted to tackle. These are internal games. If the man has the ball let him keep it for a few seconds. Don’t get in too tight. Don’t crowd him out too much or jostle, compromising his balance. These are internal , friendly games.
This post is not aimed at very occasional runner but those who push speed and physicality to the boundaries more often.
Everyone runs from time to time. It’s a sign of improving fitness. I have even been pulled up for running several times myself and never questioned the decision. At times I’ve considered it a compliment!
Seriously though , the answers are obvious. Referees need to be firmer, to be prepared to be unpopular with some people for a while but more importantly all who sign on for another year at Denton must recognise the fact that this is a walking football group and this is the game they are signing up to play.
I am not alone in my views on this. And in the process of arranging a committee meeting to discuss getting on top of the problem quickly. We will never eradicate it completely but will certainly find ways to discourage. Longer term players than myself and members of the committee are equally concerned about developments.
The Summer Seventeen festival has reminded us what games can be like when mixed abilities and mixed ages take to the same pitch. The festival could act as a watershed as we move forward together in the interest of all. When I joined the group in February 2016 it was inclusive, and it was welcoming to an unfit sixty four year old who had not kicked a ball in forty years. We must never forget what we are for. Yes, the previous regime went over the top in terms of restricting scores, men of the match and resisting ALL mention of competitiveness but we must not, will not throw the Baby out with the bathwater. There is a middle way we can ALL enjoy. If you strongly disagree then you should consider taking up a different game.
We have signalled out intentions by affiliating to the WALKING FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION which takes a very dim view of running and of increased physicality with its NO CONTACT approach. We will endeavour to reflect these principles as we move forward as a friendly, inclusive group where results matter but are NOT important.
Here is the video link to the bulk of our ‘Cup Final’ on Tuesday last. Password protected for now. Email or ring me for the password if you want it – it will appear on our ‘closed’ Facebook Group
- spotted in downtown Bradford…..
24th. July 2017
Whilst Refereeing on the touchline edge today I was joined at one point by a Gentleman who asked ‘what’s happened to the walking football’?
In his late sixties, it seems he played at Denton over two years ago and was an avid joger and marathon runner, but had a major injury , and also a stroke in the meantime. He told me his name but I’ve forgotten.
He questioned the speed of the game we were playing. As the conversation progressed he asked where the Owen Brothers were. He also mentioned how we can ‘only score in the ‘D’ and that heading was allowed. (it still is under certain circumstances , of course)
I told him the game had evolved. Not just at Denton, but nationally too. And our independent group had evolved with it. This made me think though that for a health conscious organisation the rules employed back in those days were a tad risky, and flew in the face of opinion in and around the game. I used to enjoy getting into the ‘D’ as much as anyone but can see the safety merits of not doing so. So, I’m sure can our goalkeepers. It seems that little attention was paid to the rules of the new game as laid down by those who kicked it all off
I invited the man – we’ll call him Rex – to join us for an Over 65 session now he was fit to play once more, or suggested he try the Beginner’s ‘low-intensity’ games at Guide Bridge for a week or two first. I told him over the months, and years many of us have got fitter and hence the pace of the game has quickened a bit – although running was penalised whenever possible.
The conversation reminded me once again how the much the game has changed in a relatively short time. I call it progress. I hope you do too, but know some will disagree.
Also, there will be a financial report delivered to the A.G.M. showing a very healthy picture, and it’s worth remembering that if we’d carried on with the status quo a year ago all the money would have gone by now. Changes ON the pitch at Denton, careful and accountable management off it.
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- Rules for the miniature goal game – walking football
Distances detailed below may vary dependant upon the actual size of miniature goal employed.Common sense will come into it as and when there are changes. The ones we recently trialled at Denton belong to me (Alan) and are particularly small as can be seen from the photo. I understand Mark Bradshaw has small goals we can use but they may be a little larger than these. We need to encourage more new players to try walking football . If they wish they can move on to the more conventional game when they feel ready. Please look at these rules and comment on any changes or additions you’d like to see.
1.Goals remain unguarded until the ball enters the ‘D’.
2.Defenders can enter the ‘D’ only AFTER the ball .
3.Attackers are excluded from the ‘D’ at all times.
4.If a defender is inside the ‘D’ before the ball then a penalty is awarded to the attacking side.
5.One defender inside the ‘D’ legitimately may handle the ball and play it out with his hands.If a second defender handles the ball in the same attacking sequence then a penalty is awarded.
6.Penalty kicks are taken into an unguarded goal from a distance of twelve metres with one step.
7.During the penalty all players must remain behind the penalty taker until he has struck the ball.
8.When shots miss the target and the ball nestles inside the larger net ONE player should retrieve it and play the ball out from the ‘D’ with hands or feet then exit the ‘D’ as quickly as possible.
9.When the ball exits the ‘D’ and play continues those defenders inside the ‘D’ must get out of it quickly. If the Referee decides they are loitering in the ‘D’ a Penalty kick may be given.
These rules are not exhaustive and as this is a ‘work in progress’ If you can think see any flaws to or would like to suggest others please get in touch.
The purpose of this type of walking football is to increase passing and mobility skills while cutting down on powerful shooting. It should make the game more inclusive and encourage more creative interplay. It’s particularly suited to games where….
1). LOW numbers are present.
2). To Over 65’s who want a competitive game outfield but do not want to face the threat from powerfully struck footballs smashing into them.
3).Games when there are no specialist goalkeeper’s available.
SMALL GOALS TINY GOALS…what’s YOUR view ?
We recently experimented during a game at Denton using miniature goals. When numbers are low – OR when we split a large turnout into two groups we should consider doing this again.
Why? You may ask….
Let me try to explain: Some of our games are in danger of becoming power plays – where the big hitters and powerful shooters are looking to ‘let one go’ at every opportunity. This can often end up with ricochet or a fully blown blast into an opponents legs, buttocks or gonads. More likely it will go wide, causing someone to retrieve the ball from up to fifty yards away! …less often it will be saved or EVEN end up in the back of the net. It’s what they call a percentage game.
You will find the percentage is vastly reduced when the goals – even if undefended – are several times smaller. Shots will be few and far between. Passes into the goal will be the way to go. Approach play and passing will be all the more important as players approach the edge of the ‘D’ with an attempt at goal in their minds. To carve a yard of space to fashion a precision attempt at goal. Finesse is what’s required. Skilful vision, intelligent movement and ball play. The whole pace of the match is slowed down a bit. It becomes a much more testing game in terms of skill, requiring thought and yes, precision. I am sure that in the right circumstances this is the way to go in some of our sessions. I’d love to hear feedback – agreement/disagreement via our contact page or Facebook. As we go forward in this game we are all older men ageing. If we can adapt our game in internal sessions to be more inclusive and to encourage and foster skill over power then this , in my humble opinion is one direction we should investigate on a more regular basis when circumstances permit…. Alan Richards
P.S. the photo demonstrates the sorry state of the nets at Denton – I have heard talk of renewal.
Couldn’t agree more about dangerous power play, this is one reason I am reluctant to play with the ‘Lingerers’ and really love the over 65’s.
Having not played with the small goals I reserve my view.
In order to slow things down at Offerton we retain the shooting area and also do not allow a defender to be challenged when the ball is played out from the keeper until he (or she ) has passed the shooting area or put the ball into play with a pass.
There is no doubt that the game is getting faster and more competitive and is less appealing to newcomers especially with health issues.” Tony Cravagan
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- Local walking football man Bill Murney (Vintage Celtic) recently asked on walkingfootball.com if the game was a ‘life changer’…..
- I think perhaps, it is more of a life enhancer. I’d been retired less than 12 months when I started to play. Until I found the game, solo cycling and fettling my ageing mini-bus was my main leisure pursuit. The first winter ‘out of collar’ proved challenging though, and I actively thought about returning to work – as an artic driver – a couple of days a week. I’m so glad I didn’t.Circumstances dictated that the walking football sessions I attended were in some doubt going forward, and I was enjoying them so much I grasped the nettle and made it my business -along with others – to see all of these weekly ‘events’ secured on a sustainable basis.
- Happily, both venues are now thriving and slowly growing.This involvement has now become an unpaid part time job! So, in that sense yes, life HAS changed. Although admittedly the organising side can be as challenging, or as demanding as I, or anyone else ultimately chooses to make it. My approach is to try to develop, innovate, and build a camaraderie based on mutual respect AND to be as inclusive as possible within a mildly competitive environment.I’ve met some fine people and I have not had as many friends and acquaintances since school days! I’ve lost almost a stone in weight and feel fitter generally…most of the time.I’d say the majority of our players think the game of walking football – some of us play three times a week – has enhanced their later lives. Long may it continue.When the time comes to hang up my astro’s then if good health allows I’ll probably still be involved in admin, and the photo-journalism side on social media and this website, which I like almost as much as playing.
- Thanks for the question Bill – I enjoyed answering it.
- Alan Richards
“I agree like I have always said walking football has helped me tremendously and I will not give it up. I have made so many friends, going on Facebook and our website thanks” – David Wilson
“I’m the same as Dave having been the longest member at Denton and seeing people trying the game and having a good time and a laugh as well. The people I started with no longer play, why I don’t know, but I can’t help thinking they’re missing a great time with such nice people and a chance to get out for a couple of hours” Hadge