HARTSHILL Strollers hit rock bottom in a walking football festival in Shropshire on Sunday, October 30.

The club entered two teams in the six-a-side tournament organised by The New Saints FC at Oswestry.

TNS are the runaway leaders in the Welsh Premier League and also have a great community outreach programme, including actively promoting walking football.

But in their first appearance at the twice-yearly festival, the Strollers sides finished last and last-but-one – a day to forget.

There were many reasons – some might say excuses – for the desperately disappointing results and performances.

The festival rules allow play over head height – and headers – and both defenders and attackers can go into the penalty area.

Also, both our squads were overloaded which made putting out settled sides difficult as well as trying to ensure that every player felt their 100-mile round trip had been worthwhile.

The club had hoped to field three teams which probably would not have improved the results but would have allowed each player more pitch time and would also have eased managerial headaches.

Eight teams – including our old pals Beechcroft (now called Birmingham) – took part in the festival . . . and we finished 7th and 8th.

The South team (managed by Barry Geyton) had the slightly better return, winning one match, drawing two and losing four – to end up with just five points.

The sole victory came in the encounter with our North team (managed by Bob Haywood) - South notching up a fluke 2-1 result due to an almost comical winner.

North went on to lose three more games – and draw three . . . a haul of just three points.

Most of the defeats for both North and South were 1-0 which is hardly surprising as the matches lasted only eight minutes.

Hartshill goals were few and far between for both teams with Steve Nicholls netting twice (for South) and usually-dependable John Cooper (also South) notching up a measly one. As he also scored an own goal, Cooperman will probably call it evens.

Kevin Weston scored North’s only goal.

This certainly wasn’t Hartshill’s finest day and it shows that we still have much to learn.

The festival winners were Sheffield Vulcans, a very accomplished outfit who deserved to lift the trophy.


South: Dave Seddon, Les Evans, John Cooper, Barry Geyton, Steve Nicholls, Derek Hughes, Bernard Bustin, Archie Jones, Andy Hewitt, Mick Burdis.

North: Paul Roche, Eddie Tromans, Ray Woodhall, Steve Edwards, Andy Cotterill, Dave Lunn, Kevin Weston, Dave Shaw, John Moore, Bob Haywood.