GMWF League 2021 Review & 2022 Preview
Well, 2021 was another year we all want to forget with the Covid pandemic and the Omicron variant still rife. However, after the Spring season was cancelled, we did manage to run a local Manchester league for those teams unaffected by the travel restrictions. This was played from April until the finals in July, where twenty four teams from ten clubs took part, the report is HERE.
As things improved we were able to invite teams from far and wide to the Martin Dawson Memorial Trophy in September. Sixteen teams participated in this now popular annual tournament, twelve from the GMWFL and four guest teams. These were all teams who had entered in previous years, Blackburn Rovers WFC, Grimsby Corinthians/Hull Strollers, Halifax WFC and Sheffield WFC.
It turned out to be a great days football, all played in the correct spirit and Martin’s family presented the trophies. The full report is HERE.
With no restrictions in place we were able to start the 2021 Autumn league in September. The over 60s league was reduced to eighteen teams, the over 65s league increased to sixteen teams and the over 70s league remained at eight teams.
As players age, inevitably they move up in the age categories. One example is Rochdale AFC Strollers, who dominated the over 60s league a few years ago, then the over 65s league and now the over 70s league. It’s a natural progression, seen by many teams but thankfully we have new younger teams taking up their spots in the over 60s league.
As walking football grows, the standard is improving all the time. Where a team could dominate tournaments and trophy gathering, those days have long gone, there are far too many excellent walking football teams for any one team to reign supreme.
The Spring 2021 league saw some excellent football and many divisions weren’t settled until the final session days in December. The full December report is HERE.
At the final session on 23rd December League Chairman and Co-Founder Paul Gardner was presented with a glass plaque for his excellent work and dedication to the GMWFL.
In 2021, sadly we lost one of our referees, Keith Burrows who died in August. For the Autumn league we welcomed two new referees, Les Lomax and Steve Nethercott, bringing our officials total to eight. It was also good to see Alan Graham return to the whistle after his health scare.
As the leagues reputation grows we are attracting teams from further afield, the latest recruits being Carlisle SOA who face a 240 mile round trip to the Heywood Sports Village. So we finished 2021 with renewed optimism for the future, for which some say arguably, is the biggest and best walking football league in the country.
Obviously after all the Covid problems and restrictions, no one can predict what’s around the corner, we can only hope that walking football can continue to give the physical and mental health benefits we now take for granted.
There is much to look forward to, the Spring league starting in March, where we have some new teams to welcome, plus of course the Martin Dawson Memorial trophy, where we expect even more teams to enter this year.
We are in the process of selecting GMWFL Representative sides in the over 60s, 65s, 70s and even 75s age categories. The intention is to compete in Inter League tournaments and friendlies. Clubs were asked to nominate players and we had 23 nominations for the 60s, 28 for the 65s, 27 for the 70s and 16 for the 75s.
These need to be narrowed down to around the dozen mark, so some are bound to be disappointed but the final teams will be of the highest standard and a match for any league sides in the country.
Here’s to a great 2022 and good health to all connected to the GMWFL.
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