WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!

 

Hartshill Strollers have won their first trophy – in brilliant style.

They beat off teams from around the Midlands to lift the inaugural Rugeley Walking Football Challenge Cup on Saturday, April 25.

They deservedly won the final 1-0 against Birmingham-based Beechcroft WFC with a late goal by super-sub Steve Edwards.

In the dying minutes, Hartshill strikers rained in shots on the opposition goal and could easily have won by a bigger margin.

The platform for the victory was a great all-round performance by all the players in a tight encounter, with goalkeeper Derek Hughes keeping out a succession of shots which seemed to be certain goals.

Hartshill’s second team added to club glory by finishing third in the tournament and might have progressed further had they not met their own club-mates in the semi-final, which they lost 0-1.

Had the tournament draw been kinder, it could easily have been an all Hartshill final.

The tournament – at Rugeley Leisure Centre – featured teams from the home venue and Burntwood, as well Hartshill and Beechcroft.

Hartshill’s first team – styled Hartshill North – got off to a jittery start with a 1-1 draw against Rugeley A in the first round.

But they grew in confidence to beat Burntwood 18-0 and, in the mirror matches, won 3-2 and 12-0.

Meanwhile, Hartshill South beat Rugeley B 3-1, but lost to Beechcroft A 0-5. In the return games, they beat Rugeley 9-1 and lost to Beechcroft 1-4.

Hartshill manager Mark Grazier said: “We are over the moon at winning our first trophy.

“Every single player – in both teams – played out of their skins. Our win – and our third place – was thoroughly deserved.

“Victory in the final was even sweeter because Beeachcroft have become our bogey team in previously-played friendlies.

“But – when the chips were down in competition play – we showed our mettle.”

Dave Leon, recreation assistant and football coach at Rugeley Leisure Centre, said: “Despite the weather – with heavy showers punctuating bright and sunny spells – it was a terrific tournament.

“All the matches were all very competitive, but played in a friendly and sporting fashion.”

“We hope to organise the tournament on an annual basis.”