Greater Manchester WFL 65’s v Isle Of Man WFL 65’s

A party of twenty two visited the Isle of Man on 12th November, which included seventeen GMWFL players. The players were Simon Atherfold, Frank Flynn, Nick Gash, Stuart Greaves, Ken Hitchell, Steve Hyde, Dennis Johnson, Chris Kershaw, Colin Myers, John Sander, Ian Thomasson, Wai Hon Tsang, Chris Vickers, Clint Walmsley, Graham Walton, Steve Walton and Frank White.

Named as GMWFL 65s ‘A’ and GMWFL 65s ‘B’ wasn’t a reflection on the quality of the players just a method of differentiating betweeen the two teams. The GMWFL could probably field four 65s teams of the same quality.

An early morning flight at 07:00 wasn’t the best preparation for playing walking football but at least the return fare was very reasonable. The flight was approximately 30 minutes.

Manchester Walking Football

John Sander – This Is How I Want You To Play

For the fixtures we were collected by the Isle OF Man FA coach, although the description at the top obviously didn’t apply.

Manchester Walking Football

Manchester Walking Football

The Two Squads Line Up

The two games played on the Saturday were Isle Of Man 65s ‘A’ v GMWFL 65s ‘A’ and Isle Of Man 65s ‘B’ v GMWFL 65s ‘B’. The two games kicked off and the game on pitch 1, the ‘A’s seemed a closer game than the one on pitch 2, the ‘B’s.

Manchester Walking Football

Andrew Kneale The Hero Of The Day

Early in the second half one of the GMWFL players, Ian Thomasson, went down to the ground. It seemed serious after a few seconds and suddenly everyone realised that was certainly the case. Unfortunately Ian had suffered a cardiac arrest and needed urgent medical attention.

Thankfully, one of the IOM players son in law, Andrew Kneale, came to Ian’s assistance and started CPR. Ian had not been breathing so Andrew got some air into his lungs and carried on with the CPR. A defibrillator was brought to the incident and attached to Ian, who received two shocks.

The paramedics arrived and took over with Andrew still assisting them. Eventually Ian was stabilised and whisked off to the Noble’s Hospital just outside Douglas. Obviously we were all in shock to see such a distressing incident and the games were abandonded. A massive thanks to Andrew who undoubtedly saved Ian’s life.

Manchester Walking Football

The GMWFL 65s Squad. Back Row Left To Right: Unknown, Ron Blakeley (Manager), Graham Walton, Dennis Johnson, Ian Thomasson, Simon Atherfold (Player/Manager), Clint Walmsley, Colin Myers, Nick Gash, Stuart Greaves.
Kneeling Left To Right: John Sander, Chris Vickers, Steve Walton, Frank Flynn, Steve Hyde, Ken Hitchell, Wai Hong Tsang, Chris Kershaw.
Front: Frank White.

The discussion in the dressing rooms was should the planned evening meal and get together go ahead. It was felt that it was pointless cancelling as we would have to eat anyway, so we met at Jak’s Smokehouse, although the evening obviously had a subdued atmosphere.

Manchester Walking Football

Dining & Get Together At Jak’s Smokehouse

After the early travelling and sad incident it was an early night for most, if not all of us.

Mike Sharpe, the IOM player/organiser, asked if we wanted to go ahead with the Sunday fixtures. We had a get together and Chris Kershaw said that he had spoken to Ian’s brother Neil who said that Ian would want it to go ahead as planned.

With an afternoon kick off we took the opportunity to have a stroll along the promenade at Douglas, where a wind force 6 approaching 7 was blowing.

Manchester Walking Football

What A Great Team – That’s The Three Tall Dark Figures At The Back.

So once again we were collected by the IOM FA coach and taken to the venue at St John’s. This time the fixtures were Isle Of Man 65s ‘A’ v GMWFL 65s ‘B’ and Isle Of Man 65s ‘B’ v GMWFL 65s ‘A’. The two games kicked off and the game on pitch 1 was a tense affair with neither team giving much away. In fact it got quite heated at times and the hosts took the lead. The fixture on pitch 2 was quite the opposite with the GMWFL side dominating the proceedings.

After the incident on the previous day the results weren’t important but generally all fixtures were played in the correct spirit. For the record the results and GMWFL scorers were –

Isle Of Man 65s ‘A’ 1-2 GMWFL 65s ‘A’ Scorers: Graham Walton, Clint Walmsley.
Isle Of Man 65s ‘B’ 1-5 GMWFL 65s ‘B’ Scorers: Frank White 3, Dennis Johnson, Colin Myers.
Isle Of Man 65s ‘A’ 1-9 GMWFL 65s ‘B’ Scorers: Dennis Johnson 3, Colin Myers 3, Frank White 2, Steve Walton.
Isle Of Man 65s ‘B’ 1-3 GMWFL 65s ‘A’ Scorers: Graham Walton 2, Wai Hong Tsang.

We met in the hotel bar for a pre dinner drink to discuss where we would eat that evening. Wai was taking Clint, Frank and Ron with their partners and Steve H to a Chinese restaurant, while the rest of us dined at the Fig & Olive restaurant, which was an excellent choice.

Manchester Walking Football

Pre Dinner Drinks At The Hotel

Manchester Walking Football

More Pre Dinner Drinks At O’Donnells Irish Bar

Manchester Walking Football

Dining At The Fig & Olive

After some excellent food we then returned again to O’Donnells Irish Bar.

Manchester Walking Football

Back To O’Donnells Irish Bar

After a few drinks at O’Donnells four us us carried on in the Nags Head and staggered home in the early morning. I can only blame it on the two Carlisle lads John and Nick, plus of course our player/manager Simon.

Manchester Walking Football

Mike Sharpe

All in all it was a great weekend, marred by the incident with Ian, who we all wish a full and speedy recovery. Ian’s family flew out on the Sunday and we had a few words with them at the hotel.

Finally, a massive thanks to our IOM hosts and in particular their player/organiser Mike Sharpe who did a splendid job looking after us.

Hopefully we shall return to the Isle Of Man at some point and also host a similar weekend at Heywood some time in 2023. Also If the IOM do join the WFLA and enter the Inter League Cup, we shall meet again there next year.


Greater Manchester WFL 65’s v Isle Of Man WFL 65’s — 2 Comments

Mike Sharpe on 16th November 2022 at 3:32 pm said:
As of Wednesday 16 November Ian is conscious, off sedation, off the ventilator and responsive. Debra is hoping to get Ian back to Bolton hospital this weekend.
We managed to complete the weekend and I think all participants will want to do it again, home and away. Our best wishes go to Ian for a speedy tecovery

Steve Hyde on 16th November 2022 at 1:13 pm said:
Great report, Bill, on a superb but sobering weekend. The football was mostly enjoyable, as was the team camaraderie, but all this was overshadowed by Ian’s collapse. Thank goodness someone was on hand to administer first aid and CPR. What a topman he was in awkward circumstances. He deserves a medal.
All our thoughts from Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders are out there for Ian’s family and hope his early return to Bolton can be arranged.
Another visit to the island should be arranged in 2023 and hopefully we can reciprocate as hosts very soon. Thanks to all the travellers for the weekend. Well done Isle of Man FC as well.


GMWFL Representative Teams Play In The WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22

It turned out to be quite a good day for the GMWFL teams in todays Walking Football Leagues Alliance Inter League Cup. The tournament was played at the Leek Town FC ground where a brand new 3G surface was installed in October 2021.

Both our 65s and 70s teams played at the same time, so it was a case of trying to watch two games on opposite pitches.

The GMWFL 65s squad was Steve Hyde, Tom Jaques, (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Steve Walton (Bolton Arena), Simon Atherfold, Dennis Johnson (Club Kingsmaid), Mick Tarpey, Stewart White (Manchester Corinthians) and George Friemann (Rochdale AFC Strollers).

The 65s had only one fixture to play due to many leagues having no 65s divisions. Wales WFL were the opposition and they were a very decent side. In the early stages of the game possession was fairly equal. We took the lead with a goal by Stewart. Wales equalised soon afterwards but we gradually took control and took the lead with a goal from George. Steve added another one as the Wales team seemed to tire a little. We then added a fourth with a goal from Dennis. Final score a 4-0 win for the GMWFL.

The GMWFL inaugural 65s Champions, well done lads you played some excellent football.

Manchester Walking Football

GMWFL Over 65s Winners WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22
Back Row Left To Right: Dennis Johnson, Mick Tarpey, George Friemann, Steve Hyde, Stewart White.
Kneeling: Steve Walton, Simon Atherfold, Ron Blakeley (Manager), Tom Jaques.

The GMWFL 70s squad was Frank Flynn (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Terry O’Rourke (Bury Relics), Paul Crosby, Pete Hampson, Ray Richards (Manchester Corinthians), Allan Macleod (Preston North End Senior Whites), Bill Charlton, Alan Thompson, Jeff Whyment, Terry Williams (Rochdale AFC Strollers) and Alf Murphy, Chris Vickers (Salcom).

Dorset 70s were short of players and Terry and Chris volunteered to help them out as we had sufficient players in the squad. Thanks for volunteering lads, you are still essential members of the GMWFL 70s squad and without your efforts for the Dorset team, who knows what their results would have been.

Dorset WFL were our first opponents and we soon took the lead with a goal from Ray. We dominated this game and further goals from Ray again and two from Paul gave us a comfortable 4-0 win. The final fixture was against the Wales WFL and once again we dominated play. In this 5-1 victory, the goal scoring was shared by Allan, Bill, Frank, Paul and Ray.

The GMWFL inaugural 70s Champions, well done lads you look a team that would take some exceptional players to beat you.

Manchester Walking Football

GMWFL Over 70s Winners WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22
Back Row Left To Right: Allan Macleod, Alan Thompson, Terry O’Rourke, Ray Richards, Alf Murphy.
Kneeling: Bill Charlton, Pete Hampson, Ron Blakeley (Manager), Frank Flynn.

The GMWFL 60s team kicked off later and the squad was Nick Carter, Wai Hong Tsang (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Ken Hitchell, Stuart Saint (Club Kingsmaid), Clint Walmsley (Fleetwood Town Flyers), Stuart Greaves (Manchester Corinthians), Vincent Dugdale (Moston Brook FC) and Bob Hartley (Rochdale AFC Strollers).

With a few 60s players unavailable today, it was still a strong squad. The Dorset WFL 50s team had been let down with a late team withdrawal and needed some opposition after travelling all that way. Our lads came to the rescue and gave them some game time, which probably caused some tiredness, with their real test coming up against some strong teams later in the afternoon.

Who knows how we would have fared without playing earlier. Four teams contested the 60s cup and first up were a strong Essex WFL side. They took the lead and fortunately Vinny equalised to make the final score 1-1. Next up were the Dorset WFL and with the score 2-1, thanks to goals from Nick, we looked to be grabbing the three points. However it wasn’t to be, a defence mistake allowed the Dorset team to equalise in the last minute.

With one fixture left, we had two points and needed to beat the Northern Premier League team to clinch the winners trophy. We had decent possession but the opposition were a very strong team and Ken in goals saved us numerous times with some exceptional goalkeeping. The inevitable happened towards the end when the NPL took the lead to win 1-0.

The 60s gave their all, as did our other teams, but tiredness took it’s toll. However all our lads today did us proud and we came away with two winners trophies and a runners up trophy. Well done all of you and the GMWFL teams are a force to be reckoned with.

Manchester Walking Football

GMWFL Over 60s Runners Up Playing In The Over 50s Category WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22
Back Row Left To Right: Ron Blakelely (manager), Bob Hartley, Stuart Saint, Nick Carter, Clint Walmsley.
Kneeling: Stuart Greaves, Ken Hitchell, Wai Hong Tsang, Vincent Dugdale.

Manchester Walking Football

GMWFL Over 60s, 65s & 70s Representative Teams Trophy Wins WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22

Manchester Walking Football

WFLA Inter League Cup 28.05.22 Podcast. Click Image – Many Involved In The GMWFL Are Interviewed About Walking Football & Their Experiences On The Day.


Excellent day despite some teams letting the side down on the day. Good to see such camaraderie amongst our whole squad across the ages when we come from such a variety of clubs. Thanks to you and Ron for the organisation and getting us all together. Steve Hyde (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders)

The sportsmanship and respect shown by all teams was exemplary and made for a very successful day. The facilities at Leek Town were spot on. Stan Jackson (Referee)

It was 5 and a half hours each way for the Dorset teams. Well done to all involved, wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We all had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and sportsmanship shown by competing teams from all over the country. The GMWFL 60+ lads were brilliant sports. Steve Tingle (Dorset WFL)

Well done to all the teams and age groups who competed. GMWFL 60+ agreed to play a Mixed 50/60s team to give the Dorset lads playing time. Some 60+ lads playing 120 mins of WF which possibly did not help the team in the later stages of the 60s Competition. At the end of the day it’s all about enjoyment and yes we all want to win. I, like most, don’t like to lose and we try our best. 50,60,70 year olds playing a format of football we are all trying to perfect. I would like to thank all the organisers, players and officials who made it, I hope, an enjoyable day for all. Stuart Saint (Club Kingsmaid)

We were very grateful to your lads. Our 60s team all joined in too. Most of our lads pulled on a Red and White top and played for the GMWFL side when asked. Two of us played on the Dorset 50’s team. Overall the standard was good, we learned a lot and the GMWFL lads are like family now. Steve Tingle (Dorset WFL)

Manchester Walking Football


GMWFL Representative Teams Formed 2022

With the increasing popularity of walking football and many new leagues being formed across the country, it was inevitable that there would eventually be a demand for leagues to form representative sides in the various age categories.

The WFLA (Walking Football Leagues Alliance) was established in 2019 for FA affiliated leagues to join forces for their various planned tournaments. Along with other competitions, there would be a WFLA Inter League Cup. Due to the Covid pandemic no tournaments were permissible until 2022, when the first WFLA Inter League Cup will be held on 28th May.

The GMWFL started the process of forming league representative teams for the over 60s, 65s, 70s and 75s early in 2022. Member clubs were invited to recommend players they thought were up to the required standard to represent the league. Originally over 70 players were nominated for the various age categories. This obviously needed trimming down with squads of around a dozen being more realistic. Trials were held at the Heywood Sports Village and were well attended.

Competitive games were required in order that these teams could test themselves against decent opposition and also of course to get used to playing together. The first of these games were arranged against Leeds Titans, a strong competitive Yorkshire club. The 60s and 65s played on 1st May at the Goals Leeds venue.


Report GMWFL 60s v Leeds Titans 60s

60s squad was – Nick Carter (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Vincent Dugdale (Moston Brook FC), Bob Hartley (Rochdale WFC), Ken Hitchell (Club Kingsmaid), Dave Hunter (Manchester Corinthians), Wai Hong Tsang (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Clint Walker (Fleetwood Town Flyers) and Kevin Williams (Rochdale WFC).

Leeds were dominant the first 10 minutes and took a 2 goal lead. We gradually got into the game and Nick grabbed a goal turning the defender. Wai added another to make it 2-2. Leeds scored again before Nick made it 3-3 with a well taken penalty which was awarded for a Leeds player entering the ‘D’ area.

Leeds scored again to make the score 4-3 and we were very unlucky not to equalise with their keeper deflecting shots twice off his foot. The refereeing was poor with running rampant and too much physical contact. These caged pitches are designed for traditional 5-a-side football. If this had been played at Heywood with tougher refereeing, we would certainly have won this game.

Report GMWFL 65s v Leeds Titans 65s

With quite a few players unavailable today, through injury or family commitments, plus one player not even showing, the 65s were virtually down to the bare bones.

65s – Simon Atherfold (Club Kingsmaid), Steve Hyde (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), Tom Jaques (Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders), John McNally (Manchester Senior Citizens), Steve Walton (Bolton Arena) and Stewart White (Manchester Corinthians).

In the first five minutes I knew we were going to dominate this game. Surprisingly Leeds took the lead but it was only a matter of time before we equalised with a well taken goal from Stewart. Wai added a second with a well struck shot from distance followed by Tom who did similar.

John added two within a few minutes, followed by Steve which made it 5-1. From here we absolutely took control with passing that Leeds couldn’t cope with. Stewart got his second of the day and Steve added his second to make the final score 7-1 and a very comfortable victory.

Both teams played well today and with players unavailable for both teams, it shows the strength in depth that we have. Well done everyone.

Any comments are welcome below, these are your teams so let’s have your input.

GMWFL Representative Teams — 3 Comments

Kenneth Hitchell on 3rd May 2022 at 10:05 pm said:
Unfortunately short on subs with so many guys missing, however having a birds eye view of the match, it shows how good our Heywood refs are when you see the amount of blatant running on and off the ball that takes place without properly trained officials.

Kevin Williams on 3rd May 2022 at 9:33 am said:
The 60’s game against Leeds was probably typical of the strength of opposition we can expect to face at Leek; my sincere hope is that we are playing walking football not what we played at Leeds. I have absolutely no problem playing the ‘real’ stuff, I just wish we’d known beforehand what was coming – we certainly wouldn’t have been two down in the opening 10 minutes if we had. Give Leeds some credit though, they are a very good side and have the benefit of being a unit that has played together many times. Overall I thought we did OK. Congratulations to the 65’s, the cream always rises to the top!

Steve Hyde on 3rd May 2022 at 8:54 am said:
Great to be involved with a grand set of guys on Sunday.

The 65’s were dominant and so easy to play behind, but I expect a more taxing day out at Leek against strong League Representative teams at the end of May. Well played chaps. Very enjoyable.