When you think of football’s great derby matches, red-blooded affairs such as Liverpool versus Everton, City versus United or even Derby County versus Nottingham Forest, come to mind, but its fair to say when the local Walking Football group in Whaley Bridge challenged their hosts Whaley Bridge Town Council to a game there was slightly less tension and a good deal more laughter than is usually associated with contests between local sides.
Walking Football has been growing in popularity with older men ever since a Barclays television advertisement featured the slowed down version of the beautiful game. The Whaley Bridge session, which takes place on the town’s state of the art 3G pitch at the top of Memorial Park on Wednesday afternoons, kicked off in March and numbers of men being drawn by the chance to play football again are rising steadily. When local hostelry The Drum and Monkey offered to sponsor a playing kit for the group, organiser Mick Owen challenged the Town Council, who have also been very generous with their support, to a friendly match. “We are lucky to have such a well maintained and well appointed pitch to play on and the Town Council have helped us with marketing and recruitment. High Peak Borough Council are supporting the sessions and Councillor Jim Perkins joined us for the afternoon but it was an unlooked for bonus when Chris Bennett at the Drum offered to help us buy some playing kit so we wanted to say thank you to all our supporters by putting this game on.”
After a nervous start the team of politicians adjusted to the challenge of playing football without breaking into a run but the regular players – all men of a certain age who value the regular exercise, the time spent with like-minded peers or the break in their daily routine – were soon put under pressure and local radio personality Barry Jarvis captaining the side was forced to make tactical changes and urge his men on to slightly more effort. With some idiosyncratic refereeing decisions assisting the Town Council, the match finished as it started with smiles on everyone’s faces, a rousing celebration from the Town Council’s quite remarkable cheerleading squad and nobody very certain who won.
Men who want to try Walking Football should call Mick Owen on 07944 605508 or just turn up on a Wednesday at 2pm (12am from 29th July) . Groups wishing to hire the 3G pitch should use the contact and booking form on www.whaleybridge.com or ring Jon Goldfinch on 01663 733067
For more details contact Mick on 07944 605508 or on firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Whaley Bridge’s 3G pitch is available to hire from Whaley Bridge Town Council at www.whaleybridge.com
2. WellFit CIC host Walking Football sessions in the High Peak at Whaley Bridge on Wednesdays at 2pm (12am from 29th July) and at Glossopdale Community College, Newshaw Lane, Hadfield on Thursdays at 11am.
3 WellFit CIC is a not for profit social enterprise based in the High Peak offering physical activity sessions aimed at raising wellbeing at an individual and community level. We are funded by grants, donations and fund-raising.