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WFA National Cup Finals 2021

LET’S SALUTE HARTSHILL’S HEROES OF 2021

Hartshill Strollers proudly carried the banner for the Midlands in the WFA National Cup finals in Yorkshire.

We fielded not one, but two, age-group teams in the finals, thought to be a record in walking football history in England.

But, sadly, there was to be heartbreak at the last hurdle with neither the Over 60s nor the Over 65s squads able to bring home the silverware.

The finals of what is now officially named the Pharmacy2u Walking Football Cup, they were played at Dorothy Hyman Sports, Cudworth, Barnsley, on 9th/10th October 2021.

Oddly, they were played to different formats with a different number of regional finalists.

The Over 60s section – played on the Saturday – featured eight clubs, split into two groups with a semi-final and final. Each match lasted 20 minutes, straight, with two minutes’ half time.

Hartshill got off to a flying start, beating Herne Bay 1-0 - roaming mid-fielder Steve Nicholls scoring with a thunderbolt.

But they lost 1-2 to Bexley, Rob Dunning netting for Strollers. In the third match – against Watford - they drew 0-0 to reach the semi-finals.

There, Hartshill ended 0-0 with Redcar in normal play but with the tie to be settled on penalties (no extra time), Redcar shaded it 3-2.

Hartshill and England Over 70s keeper Dave Seddon, who played brilliantly on the two days, got his gloves to all three penalties but just failed to keep them out.

Redcar went on to win the trophy, beating Kingsmaid1-0.

The Over 65s finals took place on the Sunday with six clubs, no group stages, all playing each other. Matches were 15 minutes straight, no half time.

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The draw was cruel to Hartshill – five of whose players were in the Over 60s squad from the previous afternoon – as they had to play four of their five matches back to back.

First, they lost 0-2 to the eventual champions, Eastleigh; drew 1-1 with Bicester Fossils (England Over 65s striker John Cooper scoring the goal); lost 0-2 to Leggy Mambos; drew 0-0 with Norwich SocaSeniors.

After a rest, they played Worthing Seniors and the game also ended 0-0.

The results meant that Hartshill failed to advance to the semis. Eastleigh beat Leggy Mambos in the final 1-0.

Mark Grazier, President of Hartshill Strollers, who cheered on the teams on both days, said: “Both squads tried their very best to bring the silverware back home, but it just wasn’t to be.

“However, they are both still the Central Regional Champions. They are our Heroes of 2021 and the whole club should be very, very proud of them.”

It was the fifth time that Hartshill Strollers – formed in 2014 – had reached the national finals, twice in the Over 60s and the Over 65s and once in the Over 70s.

Their Over 60s won the then WFU National Tournament in 2016 under the management of Barry Geyton.

Hartshill’s 2021 national finals squads: Over 60s: Dave Seddon, Clive Stokes, Steve Nicholls, John Wootton, Sarv Tah, Ian Trevor, Rob Dunning, John Cooper, Chris Pardoe, John O’Dwyer. Manager John Green.

Over 65s: Dave Seddon, Clive Stokes, Steve Nicholls, Ian Trevor, John Cooper, Tony Beckley, John Green, Barry Geyton. Manager Barry Geyton.

Report by Bob Haywood.