A page for personal views , musings and more… 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…
Nobody’s playing ball so it’s time to let the dog out…
PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS FROM A REFEREE’s ‘WORKSHOP”….
He based the course around the F.A. laws of the game. Naturally enough. These were revised last September (2018) and were an improvement on what we had before which were little more than an adaptation of five-a-side rules.
As is usual, I was as vocal as anyone in the meeting. There’s no point in attending these things if you’re not going to get your points across. Richard was receptive to most of mine. Although he didn’t give a black and white opinion there is certainly enough grey in there to warrant feedback to his colleagues. He was certainly not ‘dismissive’ which for me was a constructive sign.
‘Minimal Contact’ is open to interpretation said I. I know the F.A. recognises that a non-contact ethos is impossible to achieve but the word ‘minimal’ is equivocal. Non-Contact means just that. In our local Manchester F.A. Rules we installed the mantra ‘not all contact will be adjudged a foul, but all contact COULD be judged a foul in the opinion of the Referee’.
There is no doubt that contact will occur. There seems little doubt that to say it won’t would be foolish, but our rules give the Referee carte blanche to judge, penalise AND deter those who ‘put a foot in’ from doing so whenever the chance arises.
I explained how I had used freeze frame techniques to establish that some who appear not to be walking, do in fact have one foot in contact with the ground at all times. This definition is what the F.A. uses but for the life of me I cannot see how that can be improved upon. For me it’s about speed of movement, rather than gait. The heel planting ‘speed walk’ is all well and good off the ball but you cannot control a ball adequately whilst moving in that way – not in my opinion anyway. Professional ‘techies’ no doubt at the disposal of the F.A. could do some more refined work on this ‘stop motion’ technique if the will was there. You CAN look as though you’re almost jogging yet still comply with the one foot law. Scrutiny on an official level would prove this to be the case I’m convinced of this.
Penalty kicks came under scrutiny too. I told Richard that in my view there were insufficient grounds within F.A. laws for awarding a penalty kick. This achieved a degree of agreement within the room. In regular football (a different game as acknowledged right at the start of the course when we were asked to highlight FIVE basic differences between the two forms of the game) a penalty is given for any foul inside the penalty area, and of course handball. In walking football only offences involving egress and encroachment of the ‘D’ are punishable by the award of a spot kick. For me this is a wasted opportunity to discourage foolhardy and overtly physical foul play in a highly material way.
Our local rules in this area are very different. ANY careless, reckless or excessively forceful challenge can result in the award of a penalty to ones opponent . In the case of the GMWFL Heywood league ANYWHERE on the pitch. In the case of the Curzon FPL in a defender’s own half of the pitch. Blue or Red cards are also an option of course and not necessarily in an ‘either / or’ scenario. A penalty AND a card might be deemed appropriate.
At Heywood five totting up offences (contact or running) result in a penalty award these days. At Curzon a Blue card for three individual runs and a single point deduction for three teams runs, or contacts adjudged ‘fouls’. I’m not suggesting these local rules could be included within law but….
….aside from these league ‘totting up’ systems which will not appeal to everyone, I’m sure, I feel that ANY game of walking football ANYWHERE would benefit from the opportunity for Referee’s to award penalty kicks for reckless, excessively forceful play which endangers an opponents safety. One can debate pitch positioning but the most likely place for this to happen is in front of goal when goal opportunities are about to be taken.
I would also include DELIBERATE (cynical opportunity denying) handball anywhere on the pitch but that’s a stage further on than where we are at the moment.
And so we took to the pitch in strong and very warm sunshine. . I was the first to Referee amongst our group. I took one half (lateral) of the pitch and someone else refereed the other half. I tried to be clear in both preventative commands and in explaining decisions. I disallowed a goal for running and penalised the offence on one other occasion. Both of us received good, positive comments from Richard at the end of our short Refereeing stints. Everyone else in the ten man group then had a go. I was myself penalised for running twice in the subsequent games. Anyone who plays with me regularly will know that’s a fairly rare occurrence. Maybe three or four times a year. This will give you an idea of the parameters that were set. That’s entirely fair enough. It could be the case that our Ref’s in internal sessions are not strict enough – wishing to allow games to ‘flow’ . We had several players on our pitch who were well under fifty years of age and the games we staged were competitive.
Valuable and worthwhile time well spent. I attended the course with David Wilson, Tony Cravagan and Peter Quinn. This was the first time David & Tony had received any form of training from an official body. I think attendance has fed their enthusiasm and I know they – like myself – enjoyed it. Peter has been a Referee in regular football for a long time. I myself am accredited under Manchester County F.A. after a nine hour course in January 2018 I realise this limited time does not turn me into a fully fledged Referee, but it’s a start. More regular competitive Referee Keith Burrows who often plays and sometimes Referees with our group and the now vastly experienced Garry Pearce were also present. I think every one of us took something positive away from Heywood.
I’d like to thank Lancashire F.A. Shaun Taylor and Mark Whittaker and of course Richard Glynne-Jones for his attendance which made this time valuable for all of us at Denton Walking Football Group and Nash walking football too. I hope there will be rapid plans for developing this initiative, and using it as a foundation for moving (those who seek it) towards full F.A. accreditation in the coming months, rather than years for people who do not have as much time left to pursue their interest as some younger participants within the Football Association’s remit.
In praise of three touch walking football…
Phil Dawson – on the In off the Post forum on walking football . com
“My club who play 3 touch football recently played another local club who play normal touch football. We agreed at the start of the game that we would play our rules v their rules. The passing & movement of my team despite the fact we have only been playing for about 4 months was brilliant & we played them off the park.
I think that there’s a lot more interaction with 3 touch and encourages players to pass & move which must be better than giving the ball to the team superstar & then stand around watching him lose it time after time.”
“We use 3 touch at most of our lunchtime sessions. We allow all 70+ unlimited touches and if we had a newbie or someone who is struggling we would allow them to have unlimited. I usually ref and shout when an unlimited player has the ball. A few not happy when initially introduced- usually greedy & clumsy- but most think it is the best way to keep all involved and common consensus that I has greatly improved most players. We had concerns that it would affect out competitive team but if anything it has also helped. Happy to discuss anytime.”
Niall O’Donnell Chairman Wakefield Walking Football Wakefield Wanderers
“……all of the rules we use at my sessions are based on medically proven facts, to ensure we are playing safely.
We carried out studies In the Hampshire area with all the affiliated teams recording data and it showed there is 60% less tackling with 3 touch football. Also there is twice as many goals scored In the same game time compared to all in multi touch.
The game is still competitive enough but there is less requirement to make last gasp tackles as once you have shut down your opponents route to goal using careful positioning, you effectively are forcing them to pass to their teammate and you need to work as a team to force them into mistakes and obviously move the ball quicker to find space and break down opponents.
It becomes more inclusive for the lesser skilled players because usually the players who perceive themselves as “better players” tend to dribble and hold on to the ball too long.
It definitely works for us and we only enter (and run) tournaments that play these safer rules”…..Michael Quinn – Sports Therapist
“Because three touch discourages dribbling and holding onto the ball – which itself tends to attract ‘contact’. I think a mindset of standing off players while they take their three touches is prevalent. So a spin off could be fewer contact offences and temptation to tackle where contact is always a risk even if the tackler has the best of intentions. Possession regained after a sloppy, misdirected or intercepted pass becomes the primary way of reclaiming the ball. With more passes the opportunities to do so are increased. I’ve invited groups in Scotland to explain what makes this form of the game so attractive to them and if I get responses I’ll share them here” – Alan Richards
“This mornings session was enjoyable and some excellent football played easier to see from in goal. Also it seems everybody gets involved more, those who like to dribble should hopefully see that move and pass is the way walking football should be played and may give the edge required to improve on runners up. ”
“I have been using 2 and 3 touch in our sessions for 4 years and without exception all players have improved their first touch, spatial awareness and passing abilities. I also play defending to a half a metre of the player in possession .”
……Uxbridge Amblers WFC via Twitter
“I am a fan of 3 touch , but my issue is that in competitive matches , it needs 2 officials , refs can barely stop the running / running off the ball problem and we expect them to be counting how many touches a player is making ?”
……..Barnet Walking Football
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX….
A better way forward ? or unworkable waffle ?
F.A. Cup final day yesterday and of course the famous old trophy went to the team which had scored the most goals. The Premier League title went to the team with the most points. One hundred this time around. A simple formula three points for a win and one for a draw. You get nothing for losing, not in the game that is football.
Walking football too so far as I’m aware. A formula simply not suited to the rigours of older men who are mostly just happy to be still playing a game with an approximation to the one they played as younger men. When joints were more flexible, and when their bodies were more resilient.
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Our group might be trying something a little different , and possibly inviting others to come onside. Thinking outside the box – or the ‘D’ if you prefer. The two games are fundamentally different. Football is booming , it’s unbroken and does not need fixing.
Walking football seems beset with problems of over physicality and of course, the temptation to run (cheat) is too often too great for some players – not all. Some though seem unable to self-govern their urge to jog or even sprint. And there’s that brief acceleration when a shot is on the cards. A default decision for some player, instead of looking for a pass. Three steps, four strides – the acceleration inherent in shooting means it still amounts to running. We see it regularly !
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I’d guesstimate that from 60 players within our group there are no more than fifteen who regularly run. Most of those are often penalised. We use the penalty kick and the blue card as a deterrent. Penalties are as often missed or saved, as scored though.
So, in an effort to improve matters and reduce running how do we proceed? How might some radical thinking lead us anywhere? A direction of fairness and sportsmanship. We need not be shackled to football, nor its time honoured processes of deciding their ‘winner takes all’ mentality.
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For this version of our game . I’m proposing something quite different -sometimes. Some will pour scorn on the idea, others might not. At the very least credit the effort to slake the thirst for a fairer, more risk free game played by people in the latter halves of their lives right up to the age of eighty and beyond. An age when most have developed a sense of proportion and perspective. Where testosterone levels have dwindled a little and when many are just happy to re-engage with the football at their feet, without having those same feet and ankles kicked and trod upon .
Let’s take the points. If we started each competitive game (an efficient Referee is of course a must and I appreciate we need more of those) whereby each team has a core of ten points (or possibly twenty) which can be added to or substracted from. A winning margin of goals (winning the game) brings another three points. A game ending level, in a draw brings one point to each team.
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Running offences reduce a teams points tally by one point each time the Referee awards your opponent a free kick because your player has ran! Radical? – no doubt. Workable? Yes, I believe so.
Foul play. Overt contact, where force is applied (rather than coming together or accidental fouls) in a non-contact format it’s easy to spot. This would also involve the subtraction of one point. Reckless and excessively forceful play would constitute a two point subtraction as well as the use of blue and red cards. Each time a blue card was shown the team would forfeit a further point. For RED cards then three points would be deducted from the tally, thereby nullifying any advantage from winning the game when serious transgressions have occurred on the pitch.
A terrible tackle, and a red card means 5 points deduction.
Dissent and/or foul language could bring another single point deduction all recorded by our efficient, qualified Referee with his notebook and pencil. Totals would take seconds to establish at the end of the game. It’s perfectly possible that the losing team might emerge with more points than the team which had just beaten them. Food for thought for the victors, consolation for the vanquished that they played the game in a fairer, proper manner which has been rewarded.
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I appreciate that some teams (we may have our own ideas of which ones) might end up with a minus points tally. This is not a problem. We all have calculators at our fingertips these days and the straightforward arithmetic involved should not challenge anyone with basic numerical skills.
The deduction of points means Referees need to be more consistent and apply the laws of the game firmly. Only whistle blown offences result in points deduction.
Some will have stopped reading a few of paragraphs ago. But if you’re still with me then like me, you probably fear for the future of walking football unless some thought is applied to the way we run our competitive elements.
Constructive criticism welcome. If you have other ideas let’s hear them via the contact us page from the menu above. Thanks for reading….
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I recently revealed that I’d applied to the W.F.A. for the post of North Western Regional Representative. This application was made just after Christmas 2017, before the major split in the association’s top tier of two, and before the main actors started criticising each other. Three weeks after the application had gone in, and received a promising acknowledgement I withdrew it for personal reasons along with a realisation that the post was not really for me. As part of the application process I was asked for my own vision of what walking football should be about…I am publishing this here now in the interests of candour…and because it’s easy to do so. What has followed has told me my loss of interest was a blessing, although if the post is ever filled I wish the successful candidate well.
WALKING FOOTBALL VISION
MY vision for walking football is to see the enormous growth potential harnessed, within a sensible non-contact format for older players from fifty to ninety and even beyond. It is as important to recognise what our game is not, as we contemplate the way forward. Walking Football is NOT Association football – indeed it is a very different game and those differences should be celebrated.
I am currently, along with a colleague, seizing the initiative locally to drive Manchester County F.A. towards adopting a non-contact game. And also to adopt stiffer penalties for aggressive, reckless and cynical play. Their generic rules for ‘small sided football’ were an early miskick in our games development. They have agreed to provide Referee training in the very near future, once we have agreed upon rules of theirs that need to be changed – at least locally.
My passion for the game is really centred on the recreational element, rather than ascending tiers of ‘elitism’ towards World Cups or European Championships etc. Talk of national teams is all very well but it is important to get the building blocks in place first. Otherwise the ‘elite’ (for want of a much better word) structure could well crumble through lack of ground support from others with lesser ambitions. Particularly important is the training of a growing number of Referees – our group alone has lodged eight application forms into the W.F.A. testimony to the enthusiasm of our players for the game. I’d like to think my organisational approach and efforts in encouraging camaraderie has helped to build that enthusiasm.
If this application proves unsuccessful, at least it serves as an introduction. I think it appropriate to recognise that we have exchanged opinions before. You will know I am not a ‘yes’ man. I doubt that’s what you are looking for but please ignore this application if I’m wrong.
If I disagree at times with policy (inevitable, I think) I would say so. Any criticism would be constructive. We learn nothing from those who agree with us all of the time, publicly or otherwise. In positions of responsibility and authority criticism is a fact of life.
A collective however, needs to present a United front and I recognise the developing WFA is becoming a collective, driven on different fronts. It goes without saying that there is a need wherever possible to be singing off the same hymn sheet.
So, however this application is received I wish you well in the task of developing the game going forward, for I will be involved in that too on some level. I recently wrote that clubs/groups need choice when it comes to affiliations and alliances. I still believe that. The WFA is an essential ingredient for as far as I can see into the future of the game, and for teams or groups, involvement / affiliation with either yourselves or the F.A. is surely not, of necessity mutually exclusive.
Sincerely – Alan Richards (5/1/18)
(with the benefit of hindsight I may have worded the final sentence differently)
A poem by Bill Lancashire…
THE BATTLE OF THE BRIDGE
I’ll tell of the battle of Stalybridge
as was fought in days long gone by,
when Hyde United took on the Celtic
and the victors were helped by a pie.
It were this way, Hyde’s battle bugle had sounded,
to the market we rushed from all over the land.
I’d donned my red and white muffler
and my rattle was gripped tight in my hand.
The call to advance was then signalled
as we all marched off with a cheer.
Carefully skirting the Lion’s den though
because we didn’t have time to drink beer.
Off we strode up Market Place,
a Jolly crowd was lining the route
and as we wheeled left into Hoviley
we proudly took the Queen’s salute.
Down in the dip waited the apiarists,
with the Commercial travellers and then
while we were climbing up the brow
we were met by the Railway men.
At the top of the hill we were still striding
and a sharp right turn we took.
Here waited more reinforcements
and now we were led by the Duke.
Along Victoria Street we kept moving
and jolly good time we made.
As we strode our way through Shaw Hall
we were joined by the Horse Brigade.
Onwards! Onwards! cheered the Hyde army,
such a pace we set, and soon
as we marched along to Matley
we reached the far side of the Moon.
Left we all squeezed through the penny slot
and tramped across the field.
Through valley, stream and forest
till our destination was revealed.
Rising from the mist soared the ramparts
of that citadel dark and cold.
This was the enemy’s bastion
and they called it Bower Fold.
The foe was lined up to meet us
their evil bodies all covered in blue.
But they couldn’t halt our advance boys
the Hyde army just marched right on through.
We stormed the gates of their stronghold
and on the terraces we took up our stand.
The blue hoards were massing to face us
and in between lay a green no-mans land.
Then out to a cheer ran the Hyde heroes,
red tunic warriors all brave men and true.
Followed by eleven snarling Celt men
skulking onto the field in their blue.
But Hyde had nowt in their favour
and the chance of a victory seemed small.
Because the slope of the field was against them
and the wind in their faces an’ all.
Down the hill poured the blue heathens
charging into attack time after time.
Kicking and tripping and gouging
but they were held by that gallant red line.
Then came a shot from a Celt man,
Hyde’s valiant keeper held onto the ball.
But three murderous blue shirted villains
kicked our brave stalwart into the goal.
As the blue hoards were baying in triumph
Hyde’s goalie lay prone in the mud.
The game was all over for him now
because you couldn’t see his face for the blood.
Borrowing his cap and green jersey
a Hyde player had to right this grave wrong,
but no matter what they threw at them
the red defence resolutely stood strong.
Battling on until half time came
the Hyde boys went in for a brew.
Come on you glorious ten men.
Play up, play up the gallant few.
Although they were vastly outnumbered
Hyde warmed to their underdog role,
and it wasn’t long before the red heroes
scored that crucial next goal.
Now once again the ball was hit goalwards,
the Hyde centre met it clean with his nut.
But it flashed well wide of the goal stumps
and flew straight into the open tea hut.
You could hear the crash of broken pots
but to everyone’s surprise,
the very next sound that could be heard
was the squashing of the pies.
The Celtic souls were shattered,
they were all demoralised.
Their bodies sagged, their spirits sapped
as they mourned their lost meat pies.
With seconds left the ball was crossed
and the Hyde man hit it true.
Every speccy held his breath
as past the keeper’s hands it flew.
“It’s a goal!” the Hyde army acclaimed,
then groaned as back off the post it come.
“It’s missed!” the Celtic rabble jeered,
but wait … it’s hit the goalie’s bum.
You could almost hear the silence
as that ball began to roll.
Slowly, slowly through the mud,
across the line and in the goal.
The red army erupted to a thousand cheers.
Hats and scarves were tossed into the air,
while those devastated blue coats
slunk off slowly in despair.
Back through the woods and across the fields
everyone was singing a jolly tune,
and it’s got to be said that some Hyde boys
that night crash-landed in the Moon.
I drank a toast with Vickie’s royal regent
and as I started home with glee,
I knew I didn’t have to kick the cat
and there were slavery ducks for tea.
© Bill Lancashire April 2012
Tameside has some of the busiest minds where walking football is concerned. I make no apologies for saying so. Working with Bill Murney and Derek Drabble of Vintage Celtic, with some valuable input from Garry Pearce a definitive synopsis of the LEVELS of walking football has been produced. This is backed up with a series of films a couple of which are already on YouTube .(search the site for Tameside Striders)
In the meantime here are the words agreed:
LEVELS OF WALKING FOOTBALL – 4/3/18
LEVEL 1: Slipper football. Can be played with a minimum of two people. Mixed gender. Very gentle. Aid to recovery or to assist in co-ordination. Could also suit Dementia patients. Possible to play from a seated position if preferred.
LEVEL 2: Beginner level. Mixed gender if required. Possible to modify the rules to do away with Goalkeepers if thought suitable. Takes the ‘power’ element out of the game. Fierce shooting can put people off the game. Non contact. Can also be enjoyed by more experienced players in a less competitive frame of mind. Scores need not be recorded, but often are, with winners and losers. Still quite strenuous exercise at times.
LEVEL 3: Intermediate. Mixed gender if required. Usually internal sessions within groups and clubs. Played semi-seriously with an emphasis on scoring goals and winning games, whilst retaining good spirit and good humour. Energetic exercise. Mildly competitive. Although scores need not be recorded they almost certainly would be at this level. A good workout, and non-contact, with some strenuous exercise. External friendly games can also be bracketed with Level 3 , sometimes approaching level 4.
LEVEL 4: Tournament or League Walking Football, representing your club or group. Mixed gender in some competitions. Energetic exercise & Competitive play. Non-Contact rules. Played seriously wearing full football kit, including shin guards. Competitions are formally structured with games against often unfamiliar opponents. Results are recorded and points or progression are at stake. Can still be played in a good spirit but games are more intense at this level.
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