OVER 60S LIFT CUP IN OUR FINEST HOUR
OUR Over 60s team have pulled off the biggest win in the club’s history by winning the WFU National Tournament – the equivalent of the FA Cup.
The heroic victory came at the Cirencester Arena in Gloucestershire on Sunday, November 27.
Despite being the underdogs, we triumphed 2-1 over hot favourites Seaton Carew, from County Durham, to lift the impressive trophy.
The victory has been compared to lowly Wimbledon beating high-flying Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup – and second-tier Sunderland outfoxing then-towering Leeds United in 1973.
Even the competition organisers conceded that the Strollers had ‘come under the radar’ to achieve cup glory.
The finals saw Hartshill pitted against Seaton Carew, mighty Herne Bay and locals Cirencester in a gruelling round robin competition.
Strollers opened the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Cirencester, and also held firm at 0-0 against Seaton Carew.
But the breakthrough came in the third round with a 1-0 win over Herne Bay – the ever-fizzing Steve Nicholls putting Hartshill ahead after 10 minutes.
More drama was in store before the final whistle with goalie Dave Seddon pulling off a magnificent save two minutes later and then blocking a dubiously-awarded penalty just three minutes later.
So, we won 1-0.
The victory put us through to the final against Seaton Carew which was a heart-stopping affair with sparkling John Green scoring a stunning goal after seven minutes.
It looked as though this slender lead would be enough but Seaton Carew agonisingly equalised with just two minutes to go.
However, in the final seconds, Strollers super-striker John (Cooperman) Cooper finally – and crucially – stamped his authority on the final and rammed home the winner.
Cirencester and Herne Bay went on to contest a 3rd/4th place play-off - the home club winning out in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in normal time.
Barry Geyton, player-manager of the Over 60s squad, said: “It is an absolutely fantastic achievement.
“I am full of praise not only for our winning team on the day, but for all the squad members who took part in the earlier rounds of the competition.”
Steve Rich, WFU founder, told this website: “This was a very well deserved victory for Hartshill Strollers who came from under the radar throughout the tournament to lift the cup.
“This is the first year in which we have had an Over 60s category in the tournament – so the Strollers will forever have their place in the competition’s history.
“They played exceptionally well and highly deserved to lift the trophy.”
Squad: Dave Seddon, Barry Geyton, Bernard Bustin, Steve Nicholls, Tony Beckley, John Green, John Cooper, Richard Delahaye. John Moore.
Substitutes: Les Evans, Archie Jones.
This is what was posted by the organisers on the WFU website
HARTSHILL STROLLERS WIN 60+ NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Another illustrious final hosted by the South West Home of Walking Football - Cirencester Arena, saw a pulsating line up of closely matched teams from all corners of the nation. Travelling by far the furthest, the 'will they, won't they' show, Seaton Carew made the trip with a bare seven players and four first team regulars absent. They received a warm ovation from the other three teams before a ball was kicked.
The first four matches all produced draws of 0-0 or 1-1, giving the organisers much head scratching should any more draws occur due to the format conditions where goal difference would not count for league places in the round robin phase.
Prayers were answered when the fifth match saw Seaton Carew snatched a winner to book themselves a place in the final at the expense of the home teams Phoenix Force Cirencester.
The final league match pitted Herne Bay seniors against the relatively unknown quantity of Hartshill.
It was a closely fought tie, with just the one goal falling to the Strollers. Unfortunately for Herne Bay they could not continue the pre-eminance of their younger high flyers, so would have to contest the 3rd/4th play-off. That match ended a draw and went to penalties. Both keepers pulled off opening saves and the next shots saw Cirencester grab a goal to take the advantage and see it through to conclusion.
To the final and a close, well contested affair with both sides dominating in patches. Hartshill scored first and looked like they would settle for that score-line when with minutes to spare, Seaton galvanised their efforts and fired home an equaliser. The game looked to be going to extra time, but a determined effort from the Hartshill forward saw him round a last defender and fire home. The elation was joy and relief. Could they hold on? Seaton pressed with the remaining time and had the bulk of the possession but no chances fell their way and the final whistle brought more elation to the fore. Hartshill Strollers had sealed victory and written themselves down as the very first 60+ National Champions.