With the backing of Herefordshire FA , a newly formed ‘Team Herefordshire’ ventured to the Algarve to play in the Olhao International over 50s - 7 a side tournament.
Leominster’s Nick Hill had aspirations of competing in the tournament and after opening up the invite to the numerous walking football teams based within the county, a collection of players from Ross jumped on board with the Leominster team. The squad of Leominster and Athletico Ross-on-Wye players, who are usually seen competing against each over the in the HFA Walking Football League, had never played together or experienced playing tournaments abroad. The tournament began on day one with two leagues of six teams followed by play offs and three trophies up for grabs on the second day.
A 3-0 reverse against a much younger Silver Coast Lisbon side in the opening game, suggested a difficult time ahead but the team rallied to emphatically beat Walker Bros ( Central Portugal) 3-0 with goals from Ross players Alan Essex (2)and Dave Fish.The third game produced a 2-0 win against Algarve side, Sao Bras with Simon Winfield of Leominster weighing in with a brace. The final game of the day against Tavira ended in an unlucky 1-0 defeat. The team entered the second day with 2 wins and 2 defeats. An early morning draw 1-1 (Simon Winfield again) against host side Olhao meant that the team entered the 3 match plate competition for sides coming 3rd or 4th in their league. A 0-0 draw against Ipswich was followed by a 2-0 victory against Olhao with Leominster’s John O’Connell and Simon Winfield scoring.
The final tournament game a 2-2 draw with Browns of Vilamoura (goals from Leominster’s Simon Winfield and Nick Hill) ensured the team topped the middle tier competition to bring home the Plate and rank a respectable fifth in the overall standings. The success had emanated in the main from the defensive qualities of Ross players combined with the depth of attacking options provided by Leominster. The success is encouraging for Herefordshire FA’s plans to continue running a representative Walking Football team for competitions both home and abroad. Dave Spray, one of the competing players from Atletico Ross explained “The tournament was superbly run and although playing in the 24˚ heat was absolutely exhausting it was a great experience to compete against teams from further afield!”
Team Herefordshire were described by Tournament organisers as a very sporting team and much credit has to be given to the following squad members who not only bonded superbly but did themselves and their County proud;
Leominster Walking Football Club: John O’Connell,Nick Hill,Simon Winfield and Richard Shakespeare.
Athletico Ross: David Fish, Alan Essex, Dave Spray, Greg Weston, Peter Horrocks and Nick Morgan.
Walking football is continuing to grow in Herefordshire and there are now clubs spread across the county! If you are interested in participating or would like to start your own club please contact Scott.Russell@HerefordshireFA.com or 01432 342179