GMWF League 2020 Review & 2021 Preview
This will be a short article as you would expect due to the Covid-19 pandemic stopping all grassroots football.
With the Greater Manchester Walking Football League going from strength to strength, in early March we started 2020 full of optimism for the Spring league. We had twenty teams in the over 60s league, fourteen in the over 65s league and eight in the over 70s league, slightly down by two teams from the 2019 Autumn season.
The first session of the over 60s league Divisions 1 and 2 was played on 5th March and Divisions 3 and 4 on 12th March. Then the first social distancing recommendation was announced on 16th March, followed by an announcement from the FA for all organised grassroots football to be cancelled. This put paid to the first planned sessions of the over 65s and over 70s leagues.
The decision was taken to void all the results in the over 60s league with no prospect of any fixtures for the foreseeable future. A few teams were playing friendly fixtures during the easing of restrictions in the Summer and Autumn but this again ceased on 2nd December.
Hopes were high that we could return to action in the 2020 Autumn league, unfortunately this wasn’t to be and the year finished with even more tighter restrictions, a year none of us will ever forget with many colleagues, friends and family members catching the virus. Thankfully, most recovered.
We lost a couple of players in 2020, David Seel of Bury Relics passed away in January and Jim Morgan of Blackpool Senior Seasiders died in December, neither from the virus.
The turn of the year again brought hopes of a restart in the 2021 Spring league due to commence on 4th March. This again is highly unlikely with the third lockdown and current restrictions being reviewed on 22nd February. The latest talk is that the lockdown will probably last until 31st March at least and even then with very little hope of any easing of the restrictions. Today, at the time of writing, the talk is of even tighter restrictions.
So it’s anyone’s guess when the GMWFL will resume. The vaccine gives us some optimism but by the time all our members over 60 are vaccinated it may be be late Summer. It’s certainly been a frustrating, unprecedented time for us all, missing the sport we have come to love but many have lost far more than a leisure activity.
To paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur, on the US armies retreat from the Philippines in WW2, “We shall return.” Or one from C.S Lewis that Paul Gardner has just emailed: “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind”
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