Exeter City's Walking Football team runners-up at Algarve tournamentFrom Wonford sports centre to the Algarve. Exeter City's Football in the Community initiative to set up Walking Football in the area has brought silverware to St James Park.
A group representing the club in a recent competition in Portugal has returned with the runners-up trophy and the respect of their fellow competitors. Facing teams from England, Scotland and the home nation, Exeter's squad provided the shock of the tournament; their squad was the most inclusive.
The game of Walking Football was set up to allow people over the age of 50 to continue playing the sport or, to take it up for the first time. It's open to both genders, who play side by side and it enables people returning from illness and serious injury to remain active. Exeter's squad for Portugal included three women and were the only team in the competition to do so.
After the first day which saw a victory in their opening match and a couple of defeats, the side finished third in what was called ‘the group of death’. One of the teams they played was skippered by Coventry's 1987 FA Cup winning captain Brian Kilcline, who was to meet the Grecians again later in the competition. Also in the group was a team from Heart of Midlothian, one of the best sides in the competition.
Day two brought the knock-out stages and two thrilling penalty shoot outs. Exeter first came up against the Chesterton Crusaders from Staffordshire, who were strongly fancied to at least make the final. After a tense goalless draw, the Grecians won the first of the shootouts to book a semi-final place against Ayr United. Despite the Scottish team going ahead in the first minute, Exeter levelled before the break. The match was again to be decided from the penalty spot and City went through. At this moment there was a mixture of emotions, the unfancied Devon team had made the final, with the neutrals definitely on their side.
It was to be Brian Kilcline's team that won the final repeating their win over Exeter in the group stages. Special thanks must go to Andy Hannan and Martin Vizor, who shared managerial responsibilities of the team. What was a journey of hope turned out to be a successful and respected odyssey to the last two.
Walking Football can be played in a variety of centres around the South West and is open to all abilities. Further details can be obtained from Pete Ferlie, Exeter City FC Health and Wellbeing Officer on 077965 86003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exeter City's Walking Football squad: Jane Gray, Julie Dunlop, Sue Price, Andy Hannan, Phil Bater, Graham Lucy, Martin Vizor, Paul Disney, Ian Dolan, Vic Morgan.