Walking to football glory?

FOOTBALLERS are in the running, or rather walking, for glory in what is believed to be a unique competition.

Tameside Striders take part in the Walking Football – Fair Play League, which started again at the end of last month.And it is a case of ‘so far, so good’ after they were undefeated in the first round of the tournament.

That is despite having guest goalkeeper Alan Butler, from Preston, who was deputising for David Partington, their player/manager and international trialist.

Four clean sheets from four 20-minute matches on September 25 was impressive as the Badgers, as they are known because of their black and white kits, notched 1-0 wins over Burnley Clarets, Vintage Celtic and Stateside, from Bolton, and a 0-0 draw against The Nash Amblers from hosts Curzon Ashton.

In total, seven teams take part – Tameside Striders, Nash Bees, Nash Amblers, Vintage Celtic of Stalybridge, Bolton Arena, Stateside (from Bolton Arena’s naming partner) and Burnley Clarets.

Teams need an average age of 63 years minimum. One player in their 50s is allowed but they cannot be younger than 55.

Goalkeepers must be 45-years-old or older and stay in goal – their age does not count to the average.Alan Richards, from the Striders, said: “With an average age of 65, the Striders’ team competed well. We look to be much improved from last season with several new additions.”

A very good Bolton Arena team won their opening four games.

Denton Walking Football Group is a semi-competitive but inclusive walking football set up and teams are drawn from a hat to make sure everyone gets a fair chance of playing.

Only about half of the 60-strong membership wants to play League Walking Football, so the league was set up to offer a competitive challenge without becoming too serious about it.

For the group, non-contact, three touch walking football is all about passing and movement.

Other leagues in the area are tied to traditional football thinking and are ultra-competitive, but the fair play league operates a fair play points system which penalises over-physicality and running too!

Alan added: “Winning is not everything in this league as last season proved and it’s more important to play the game fairly than to outscore your opponent.

“One blue card (no yellows in our game) will cost your team three points and cancel out a win so heed the message which is our hashtag on twitter #nomeanfeet.”

The league also awards the Ken Richards Cup as its trophy for sportsmanship and the Alan continued: “It is every bit as handsome as the one that goes to the ultimate winners on points.

“This was primarily my idea – trophy named after my late father – and I do the bulk of the organisation but have willing hands to help and the support of Curzon Ashton and their great facilities.”

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