Manchester Walking Football October 2023
All Reports By Kevin Williams
Week 1 – Over 70s Division 1 & Over 60s Divisions 1 & 2
Over 70s Report
Manchester Corinthians continued their unbeaten start to the season, with a trio of draws to accompany a 2-1 defeat of Blackpool at Heywood on Wednesday; they sit three points clear of Bury Relics who only managed the one goal, but with it gained what could be a priceless victory, again at the expense of the unlucky Seasiders.
The Blackpool club were two minutes away from ending the Corinthians run, but self imploded, conceding TWO penalties in the dying moments of their clash to lose the chance of a big win. They then failed to score from the spot themselves in the tussle with Rochdale.
The Spotland club recovered from an early defeat at the hands of Manchester Citizens, a deflected goal sealing the deal for the Sky Blues – it doesn’t matter how they go in – to pick up a win against Bury.
Four clean sheets for the Citizens keeps them well in touch with the teams above them, and although they prop up the table at this moment in time, Blackpool’s half a dozen draws mean that there is still everything to play for in the top tier.
Over 60s Report
Fleetwood Flyers couldn’t quite keep up the breakneck pace they kicked off with last month, but still managed to stay clear at the top of Division 1 and with their unbeaten record intact. Three draws against top class opposition were topped off courtesy of a 1-0 win against struggling Manchester Corinthians Reds; the Reds are currently bottom of the table despite signing the excellent Ken Hitchell from rivals Kingsmaid recently.
They are finding goals hard to come by – then again so are a lot of clubs – and they will be hoping that the popular Mick Tarpey can stage what would be an amazing comeback from a serious illness in the coming months. For those who know Mick – and who doesn’t! – he is well on the road to recovery and we hope to welcome him back to HSV very soon.
Bury are another club wondering where their next goal is coming from; I think this is testimony to the outstanding goalkeepers and defenders more than any lack of ability on the striker’s side.
Wakefield’s brace against them brought a welcome three points, to put them clear of the bottom; Kingsmaid are still in there fighting, as their fine tally of eight points gleaned today proves.
If Fleetwood are to emerge victorious this season, they will have done it against some of the best sides around.
There were some quite amazing events in Division 2 today, with an unbelievable 30-yard effort from Blackpool’s Hugh Gibson the standout effort. I had a grandstand view as he controlled a bouncing ball and steered it past a desperate dive from keeper Chris Turner with great aplomb. Hugh’s only problem is that they both play for the same team. It really was a freak goal, one in a thousand at least; but all credit to Hugh for taking it in the spirit it should be – it was just one of those things.
Chris was in the spotlight again when the Seasiders faced Rochdale; the game was evenly poised at 0-0 when referee Mike Willmore awarded a corner following a quite magnificent save from the keeper. Again, I had a great view of the action, being on the pitch playing, and approached Chris to congratulate him [as I believed the ball had disappeared into the distance] entering the area to do so.
It wasn’t the case unfortunately, and a quickly taken corner resulted in Mike Booth smashing the ball home! After a few confusing moments it became obvious that the goal couldn’t possibly stand, and Mike Willmore ruled the effort out, correctly. Despite a late Blackpool strike hitting a post, the match ended all square, and quite rightly.
Bolton continue to look down on their rivals, another unbeaten day for them, helped considerably by Andy Clarke who scored four of their five goals today; Panthers look to be a big danger, they sit 5 points off the top but know that a good set of results in November could change that landscape considerably.
Corinthians Whites have an almost identical record as the 1st team in the division above; they had to field John Parkinson in goals today – Parky did a great job too – but will have felt the loss of their excellent keeper Dave Hunter through yet another injury; Dave’s been on the unlucky list recently and will make a big difference to the club when he returns.
Week 2 – Over 70s Division 2 & Over 60s Divisions 3 & 4
Over 70s Report
Bolton Arena’s goal drought continued at the HSV yesterday, despite having Dave Mort in their line-up. Dave knows where the nets are and has scored plenty in his day, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time; however, if the Lancashire side are to extract themselves from the foot of the table, they’ll need to start scoring – and winning – soon.
Rochdale Striders were also a little shot shy, although three clean sheets were enough to keep them well in the mix for honours in December.
Tameside’s two wins and two draws was the best return of the day, hiking them to the top of the table, whilst Salcom remained unbeaten all day, claiming Rochdale’s scalp along the way to climb into second place.
Preston North End look set to fight it out with Bolton to avoid bottom place, trailing the third placed side – Rochdale – by 5 points. An early win or two in November, however, would soon paint a different picture.
Over 60s Report
Last month’s report for Division 3 mentioned Preston propping up the table, with just the one point. Today’s results flipped that scenario almost completely on it’s head when they registered three straight wins on a glorious Autumn day at Heywood. Winning all three games by 2 goals to one will have boosted their confidence, and they now sit just a point off top dogs Bolton Wanderers; two wins were enough to keep them on top of the Division 3 pile for now.
Rochdale had a day to forget, with three straight defeats consigning the Spotland club to the bottom of the league, five adrift of safety. Burnley Clarets could surprisingly only pick up the one win, knocking them off the top perch – but maybe not for long; they sit just two points off the top.
Any team with lads like Dave Grayson and Vinnie Dugdale are going to be fun to watch, and have a laugh with; but these guys also know how to play football and they proved it today in the sunshine, including top dogs Winstanley Walkers amongst their victims.
Three clean sheets formed the basis of their climb into second place in Division 4. The Wigan side recovered their composure however, to stay firmly in control in the other two games to lead by a very useful 6 points at the half way stage, with a goal difference of plus 9!
Salcom and Roach Dynamos have it all to do now, with the former’s 1-0 win against the latter named proving crucial.
Week 3 – Over 70s Division 3 & Over 65s Divisions 1 & 2
Over 70s Report
My Burnley correspondent John Walton tells me that last month’s penalty saving hero – John Finn – was unavailable yesterday, as the second session of the 70’s Division 3 kicked off in a hurry, keen to avoid Storm Babet’s wind and rain.
With respect to John, Burnley didn’t seem to notice all that much, as stand in keeper Garry McGrail also did a sterling job, conceding just the once in an hour’s football. His replacement Stuart Gradwell notched two goals himself, giving the manager plenty to think about before November’s games!
The Clarets won their other two games, to remain top of a two-tier table, with Tameside Striders Greens hanging onto their coat tails when picking up four points. Although they had a relatively good day, Moston Brook drawing all three games, the bottom two – including Panthers – look to be set for a private battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Over 65s Report
Manchester Corinthians sit on top of the 1st Division pile following an enjoyable day at the office, winning two and drawing the other two against some top class opposition. This is a very tight league, with Bury Relics and Bolton Arena just 2 and 3 points behind, respectively.
The November fixtures almost certainly won’t provide us with too many clues as to who the eventual winners will be, but Decembers games will be on a knife edge, I should think.
As close rivals over the years, in both the Football League and in Walking Football, it’s perhaps fitting that Preston and Blackpool are locking horns to avoid the drop into Division 2; the numbers favour the Tangerines at this moment in time, but there’s precious little in it. Again, there is so much to play for in the final two rounds.
As unlikely as it seems, there’s a three way split in a five team division in the second tier of the 65’s age group.
Wakefield [no strangers to success] and Manchester Citizens head the group with 18 points each. Both remain unbeaten after 8 matches, again picking up plenty of points on the day.
Rochdale and Panthers have exactly half of that total and are only split by one goal. Fleetwood don’t seem to be having the rub of the green at all, failing to pick up a point when in all honesty they could easily have done so by now, having seen a number of their encounters.
The three goals that Rochdale scored came in what is often known as ‘Fergie Time’; how ironic as the goalscorers – Mike Booth, Bob Hartley and Dave Yearsley – are all lifelong Manchester City fans; doubly ironic therefore, was that Dale’s only loss on the day came at the hands of the sky blue shirted Citizens. The winning goal was an amazing effort from distance, at an acute angle, which nobody except the scorer seemed to believe was possible. Panthers had a very decent day, scoring 5 goals and only losing to Wakefield.
Week 4 – Over 60s Division 5 & Over 65s Divisions 3 & 4
Over 60s Report
Wakefield pipped Bolton Arena in the Division 5 bottom of the table clash at Heywood on Wednesday, to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the wooden spoon in December, courtesy of a 1-0 win in the final match of the day.
That ‘six pointer’ pretty much confirmed that this division would be a two horse race as both Ribble Valley and Bury Relics Blues stretched their lead at the top, both settling on 13 points at the close of play.
Bury’s very important single goal victory against their Lancashire rivals puts this division on something of a tightrope.
Over 65s Report
There were some very entertaining matches today in Division 3 of the 65’s league.
Two penalty misses cost Rochdale Striders dearly in the opening two games today, with the games against unbeaten Moston Brook [who remain so after today] and Salcom ending all square. Salcom failed to find the net for the sixth game in succession, but still managed to glean a couple of points.
Two of the games most respected figures came face to face in the final match of the day, with Val Mears eventually coming out on top against Ken Hitchell with a brace in a 3-1 win. Ken and his Burnley team mates can point to a couple of deflections that gave the Dale a helping hand, whilst cursing the woodwork at the other end, along with the outstanding John Hudson in goals; this was an excellent game to watch.
There’s a breakaway group of three teams now, with Salcom needing a goal from somewhere.
In Division 4 Winstanley Walkers had a very good day today, including a crunch 2-1 win over rivals Wakefield Strollers to go four points clear at the top. Tameside’s three defeats condemn them to a clear bottom spot, unfortunately. Ribble Valley’s five points gathered today were a good return, and installs a 7 point gap between the two.
Once again I’ve got to say that this group of teams go a long way to showing just how strong the GMWFL is, with good football being played on a regular basis and it’s the Fourth Division.
I must say that the GMWFL have the best squad of referees in their 7 year history and arguably the best squad of any league in the country (Ed)
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