HARTSHILL Strollers beat Cirencester in the club’s first Over 65 friendly at Stroud in Gloucestershire on Monday, June 27.

The squad has been formed to try to ensure that our older players have a greater chance to play competitively.

This will continue to be important as our age profile rises and more 50+ players are eligible for the 60+ squad.

There is clearly a need for the older age group as we were approached by Cirencester for a fixture – and all of their players were 70+.

But any hopes that this was going to be a stroll in an indoor football centre (on 3G) for the visiting ‘youngsters’ were soon dashed.

The fixture was played as three, back-to-back 18-minute matches.

In Match 1, Hartshill quickly went behind to a quick-passing Cirencester but managed to salvage a 1-1 draw, with a late equaliser by Richard Delahaye.

In Match 2, we started to find our rhythm and won 2-1, with goals by Richard and Steve Nicholls, while in Match 3, we won 2-0, John Moore scoring both goals.

So the aggregate score was 5-2. A return match is planned.

Bob Haywood, Hartshill Over 65s manager, said: “The fixture was extremely enjoyable but it had many oddities, not just the play format, or the venue.

“The referee was a real stickler for enforcing the no-running rule which repeatedly caught out our players.

“Our illustrious chairman was pulled up so often that he must have single-handedly set a record for the most number of infringements in a single walking football fixture.

“In one case, the ref. blew for running in the second game just as Richard hit a thunderbolt into the Cirencester net.

“Even I was pulled up a couple of times – and I haven’t been able to run for 20 years!

“In fairness, the ref. was completely impartial but it was apparent that the home players were used to a more stringent interpretation of the rules, so were pulled up less often.

“On reflection, the style of refereeing was a wake-up call because all of our teams could find themselves being repeatedly penalised in competitive play in future.

“As an exasperated Bernard Bustin is always saying at training: ‘Everybody’s running!’ He may well be right and we should take note.”

SQUAD: Kevin Weston, Barry Geyton, Steve Nicholls, Bob Haywood, Mick Burdis, Richard Delahaye, John Moore.