A fabulous and well-deserved win for the over 65’s in the National Cup

Bury Relics v Wigan Winstanley Walkers in the 2nd round of the National Cup.

For me it was a straightforward drive to Wigan via 2 motorways, without any particular hazard to impair my progress. Compare that to the team, they had to endure roadworks and diversions around Wigan. However, the sun was shining and all the team had arrived on time despite their difficulties getting here. The warm up was interesting, Gaz came with double gloves, as if he was expecting to be handling hot pizzas from an oven, but he assured me that it was because Wigan had one or two hot strikers. The Wizard of Oz midfielder had turned up complete with his magic red slippers and all the team zipped passes around the pitch and warmed up Gaz in goal. Some preliminaries took place, that included Ken giving the team a battle plan team talk, and then a small tutorial ensued by the referee on what is and what is not allowed. The team was now plugged in, switched on, and ready to go.

First half
The Relics got the game under way and got immediately on the attack. John W (Red slippers) passed the ball centrally up to Graham, who controlled while under pressure, then played the ball back to Jomo in midfield. His return pass back to Graham was partially intercepted, but this did the Relics a favour as that presented a chance for John W to side foot a hard shot just wide of the Winstanley right hand post. A good start. Then, it was the turn of Winstanley to show they can play football too. From a Relics free-kick and subsequent passes, Winstanley intercepted and then cleverly passed the ball around the team, keeping possession, pretty much like the Relics do in training, with the 3 touches rule. The Relics do well to mark them and close down the Winstanley players, and eventually, a tackle from behind gives Winstanley a free-kick. When the Relics regain possession, the adjectives and superlatives to describe the next passage of play include: delicious, sumptuous, sensational and terrific. The Relics pass the ball in between their opponents, whilst simultaneously finding space. Passing interchanges between Jomo, John W, Stewart and finally to Graham up-front. All of a sudden, a spotlight appears on Graham, like at a Rock concert, he uses his guile and skill, first to trick the defender by looking to pass it back into midfield but instead turning his defender, so that he is now one on one with the keeper. He then dummies the keeper by feigning a shot, and then moves the ball to his left as the keeper makes a dive down, then Graham nonchalantly aims a delicate shot to the other side of the goal. Lots of Oohs from the supporters; It was almost a sensational goal, but the ball ends up kissing the right-hand post, and it remained 0 – 0. However, the relics were now passing well and talking to each other. Gaz plays the ball out to Jomo, who passes to Stewart via John W and then to Tex, who spots a gap and drives forward into the space. He spots Jomo further forward and feeds him the ball. Jomo decides he hasn’t enough space to shoot, so plays the ball back into midfield, to John W, who is advancing towards goal. He then plays an accurate pass to Graham, who plays it back to him. John W then “twinkle toes” it, in his red slippers, past a static Winstanley defence, to score a good goal. John W controls it with his left, and then right side foots a shot under the dive of the Winstanley keeper, to give a well-deserved 1 – 0 lead for the Relics.

From the kick-off, Winstanley are straight on the attack and Tex does well at centre back to take the ball away from the attacker who attempted to take him on. He then had the presence of mind to play a quick ball to Jomo, who had multiple defenders chasing him, like stewards chasing an on-pitch streaker. However, Jomo manages to make space for himself to take a shot, but the Ref adjudged it as running. In the subsequent play, Relics managed to get the ball back to Gaz in goal, who played a sublime pass down the middle to Graham, who hit a first time pass to Stewart. Then the Winstanley defence decided to admire Stewarts movement forward and not to challenge or meet him; that was a risky move, as Stewart can be deadly with his shots, and so he let fly, for the ball just to go wide. Winstanley now have a small period of possession that is broken up by a good challenge by Graham, who is fighting hard. The ball breaks to Tex, who plays the ball to Graham, who looks to shoot with his right, to put the defender off, and then cutting inside and shooting with his left. A good effort but not enough power to beat the keeper. Then a similar situation occurs, when the Relics manage to intercept the ball from Winstanley, who have just made several passes, for the Relics to then pass around the whole team, patiently trying to find an opening. On this occasion, Winstanley regain possession but still, it was great passing by the Relics. Then there was good fortune on two counts for Winstanley; the first was when a Winstanley defender tries to dribble the ball out of defence, using his skill and also pace. He gets passed one Relics player but his touch is too strong and Stewart nips in to intercept. The Winstanley player looked like he was running to me, but the Ref adjudged that it was Stewart running, a free-kick to Winstanley. Winstanley then played several passes, and the formation meant that the defender of Winstanley had moved forward and spotted he may be able to get goal side of Stewart. But Stewart was aware of this and started to move back to mark him. However, it was an unlucky trip by Stewart that meant the player was free to hit a first-time shot past Gaz to equalize for Winstanley. Very unlucky for the Relics and against the run of play but a good finish from their player. The score was now 1 each.

From the kick-off, another chance to the Relics when John W finds Graham up-front, who takes his time to assess all his options. He decides on turning and shooting, and nearly a goal, but for a deflection and good save by their keeper. Then, yet another chance for the Relics, this time John W plays a one-two with Jomo, and hits a powerful drive just wide. The subsequent move for the Relics ends with a Jomo powerful shot, but into the keeper’s hands. Their keeper spots a Winstanley attacker on the right side, in a bit of space, and bowls the ball to his feet. Tex is about a yard away, when the attacker moves forward and knocks the ball past one side of Tex, and runs around the other side of Tex, trying to catch the ball. As the attacker is moving at pace to get to his own ball (speed up Benny Hill style), many of the Relics players and supporters are already claiming running, but the Ref is unmoved. The attacker gets to the ball and finishes passed a stunned Gaz in goal. That was a controversial goal with Relics players/supporters unhappy but nevertheless, Winstanley are now with a 2 -1 lead.

Things quickly calm down and the Relics concentrate on their play but at the same time, Winstanley seem energized by their second goal. Play becomes a bit scrappy, with possession quickly changing hands, with Winstanley getting on the attack. Two decent blocks by Tex prevent Gaz from getting his oven gloves dirty and then a free-kick to Relics for a Winstanley run. On the subsequent Relics move, there is some juicy and silky skill by Jomo, who uses sublime control to move the ball around a defender and hits a hard shot on target, only for a good save from the Winstanley keeper to preserve their lead. That’s the last interesting action of the half, and the score at half time was 2 – 1 to Winstanley.

Second half
The beginning of the second half shows the best Winstanley move of the game, where they intercept the ball from the Relics, and quickly pass it down the line on the Winstanley right wing. The Winstanley player receives the ball almost on the byline and plays a great and low cross, right across the area, for an advanced Winstanley player to hit a first time shot, hard and onto to the crossbar. If that was on target, it will have been a tremendous save by Gaz to keep that out. As it was, a let off for the Relics. Winstanley must have had their Lucozade as they were keeping possession well in the first part of this half. However, Relics were pressing them well, with good vocal instruction and support from Ken, Keiren and Keith on the side. Winstanley again tried to create chances only for the Relics to intercept and play a ball to Jomo in midfield, who took a touch to steady himself, and then let fly with a long range shot that had their keeper sprawling to his left; it was just wide but very close. In the subsequent play, the Relics were marking up perfectly, that meant their keeper panicked a little, and put the ball straight out of play. A battle was brewing in midfield, where both teams were trying to gain possession and create openings. Good passing between Stewart and Pete, and then a pass up-front, led to a kick-in to the Relics. More good passing, culminating in a pass up to Graham, who spotted that Jomo was free of his marker and had now moved to the edge of the box. Jomo received the ball from Graham, and tried to place a shot, low to the right-hand side of goal. So close, as the ball pings off the post and goes wide. Interchanges in possession now occurs and serves as a prelude to some nice play by Pete, who, with his razor-sharp reflexes, manages to intercept a pass from their defender and hit a first-time zipper shot into the keeper’s arms. Either side of the keeper and that was a goal, unlucky Peter. And again, an interception by Pete leads to a free-kick to the Relics. This was a clever free-kick. Graham waits for movement, with eventually John W making a move, close to the ball. Graham cleverly taps the ball with his foot, and John W takes over and moves the ball with the defence static, gets free to shoot at goal. As is familiar in this game by now, the shot is good but hits the post and doesn’t go in, and it seems the luck is not with the Relics. However, what transpires next is probably one the best ever walking football corners and goal I’ve seen. There was once recently, where Stewart scored a beauty of a half volley from a corner in another game. But this was just as good. John W used his magic red slippers to provide a perfectly weighted cross that was about a foot off the ground. Graham was in a perfect position on the edge of the area to receive the ball, who side-foot volleyed the ball passed the keeper, who had no chance at all. A roar of appreciation from the Relics players and supporters; that was an excellent equalizer for 2 -2.

Play continued with Winstanley winning a kick-in at a defensive position. However, once they passed forward, they lost possession and the Relics team quickly moved the ball up-front, which was passed back to John W in midfield. He looked up and saw that he had time to shoot, so he loaded up his right foot and hit a powerful shot that the keeper got a hand to. Then, in another Relics attack, a free-kick was won. Graham and John W were again the architects, and a vicious shot by John W shuddered against the right-hand post. Great power and very close to a goal for the Relics. Again, it was another free-kick to the Relics for a Winstanley hand ball. This time, an interchange between Graham and Stewart gave the latter a chance of a shot, and Stewart made no mistake, hitting an arrow of a shot high and over the keeper into the net. A sensational strike and now the Relics leading at 3 – 2.

Then, on the next attack, it was time for a bit of luck for the Relics. Most of the move was not down to luck but good play, which started with Pete winning the ball from a Winstanley player, and quickly playing an accurate pass to Graham up-front. He looked up and could see the dazzling red of John W’s slippers in space. Graham played a quick ball, that enabled John to hit a powerful shot first time at the Winstanley goal. Usually, the ball would spin wide, hit the post or the keeper would save, but not this time. The shot was into the midriff area of the keeper, who got both hands on it. However, the power on the shot took the ball vertically up with spin, and as gravity pulled the ball down, the ball bounced and span promptly into the net, just as the keeper was looking to see where it had gone. Despair for Winstanley but ecstasy for the Relics, who were now 4 – 2 in front.

Winstanley did try and press forward to get a goal back, but the Relics kept intercepting and getting the ball forward. The last action of the game was exactly this; Relics winning the ball back and playing it up to Graham, who had a shot that was defected and into the keeper’s arms. The final whistle went soon after and the result was a 4 – 2 win for Bury Relics.
Final Score; Bury Relics 4, Wigan Winstanley Walkers 2.

The Relics were the dominant side in this game and played some excellent football, while Winstanley gave a good account of themselves, with a couple of well worked chances themselves. That said, Bury were mostly on top in this, and had around 20 shots to Winstanley’s 5, so it was a well-deserved win. Recently, the Relics had had some bad luck with decisions and at one point, it looked like something similar could happen here. However, the Relics did not let it affect them, and it was a credit to everyone that they got on with the game and concentrated hard to produce a good team performance.

Thank you for all the efforts by today’s squad, which consisted: John M “Jomo”, Graham W, Stewart W, Pete S, Tex, John W (red slippers) and oven-glove Gaz the keeper. Also, thanks to Ken the manager who did a good job, providing a good game plan and encouraging the team from the side. Additional support and assistance were given by Keiren and Keith S on the side-lines. A big thank you to Winstanley, who provided a ref, changing facilities, nice brews and tasty biscuits afterward; they made the Relics feel welcome. Match report by Dr. John.

Video highlights, first half, click here
Video highlights, second half, click here