After recently purchasing a Spotify subscription, I drove up to a puddle laden Heywood Sports Village car park, listening and humming along to Iron Maiden’s Running Free classic, but what I should have been listening to, was We are the Champions! At that time, I could not predict the Relics were going to be champions but they were in the driving seat, sitting 2 points clear of all other teams, at the top of the table. This was a massive opportunity for Bury Relics to make another successful milestone in their history. There was evidence it had been raining and there were some angry and dark clouds above in the sky, but they were punctured by bright beams of sunshine, which were illuminating the 4G pitches of Heywood. The battleground to the destiny of victory delight or the comfortable mediocracy of runners up was set. One small side note was that Manchester Senior Citizens could not get a team together, so all teams on the day were awarded a 1-0 win as the result against City. Bury Relics arrived to the pitch sporting their blue shirts and a sizable support had turned up to cheer them on. The referee went through his pre-game routine, which included asking the Blackpool players if Eddy the Keepers Orange shirt clash will be a problem; they say no, and the first championship game is under way.
Bury Relics Over 70’s versus Blackpool Senior Seasider’s
Keith S, the manager, can be heard encouraging his players to be sharp from the off, and Bury Relics got the game under way. A very simple but nearly effective move gives the Relics a quick first chance. From the kick-off, John W lays it back to Tex, who quickly passes out to the right and Tony, he then plays a quick ball down the line, where Keiren had engineered a bit of space; “whack”! A low hard shot right across the goal was hit, but just flying past the post. A good start for the blues. The subsequent passage of play saw the seasiders pass the ball around but without making any openings, as the Bury defence was standing firm and making challenges. However, after a kick-in and a further cache of Blackpool passes, a player from deep tried his luck from long range, but it was double blocked: first by Bob and then by Tex. From the Preston kick-in, Bob made a perfectly anticipated interception and played the ball to John W, who then delayed his pass to Keiren, waiting for him to get forward. Once Keiren received the pass, he held off his marker, waiting for someone to be free, and his best option was a pass to Bob, who was coming forward to support the attack. However, Blackpool had got back and well organized, and the move fizzled out. Then came a chance for Blackpool from their keeper; he made a long pass out to their #11, who made a deft turn using his instep to take it away from a Bury defender. That close control bought him some space, and he took the opportunity to shoot, but for the Relics, good news, it was wide. Possession exchanged hands several times before Blackpool strung some passes together and got forward. However, this was ended by a perfectly timed tackle by John W, who fairly took the ball of the last Blackpool player, and was suddenly free with acres of green pitch in front of him, as well as Keiren in a more advanced position. However, the turbos had been switched on and the ref decided it was running. From the free-kick, Blackpool made a shot but it was very comfortable for Eddy, who just had to catch it. Then a great move from the Relics; at first it looked like Blackpools press was working and causing congestion at the back for Bury. But Bob saw space down the left wing and John W read the run (fast walk), and played a peach of a ball between 2 blackpool players. Bob was free down the left and he waited for support that came with John W and Keiren. Bury patiently looked for a shooting option, and Tex looked like the man in space, but the pass was not quite right, and Bob had to quickly get back to make sure Blackpool did not get a free shot. The Relics attacked again but Blackpool made another interception and played the ball forward, catching Bob off-balance, who took a stunt man like tumble. Bob was fine but soon in action again, where he was nutmegged by Blackpools #11 but the referee decided he was running during the process. From the resulting free-kick, Tex found Tony free down the right, who then found John W in midfield, who had spotted Bob travelling into the space. A perfectly weighted pass to Bob, gave him time to get his shot away, and it was only inches wide. A good effort. Blackpool now had a spell of pressure, including several free-kicks close to the goal line on the right. Yet, this pressure was not leading to shots or goals; the Relics were standing firm. Eventually, Eddy had possession of the ball and quickly bowled the ball long to John W, who was free on goal on the left. But, alas, the half time whistle went to save Blackpool facing a shot. The half time team talk injected a bit of energy into the team, as the Relics were quickly into the tackle after the break, which caused quick successive changes in possession. Bury Relics goal came from this. Blackpool had won the ball back and their keeper played it out to their defender, who did not measure his subsequent pass properly and played it far too close to John W, who quickly intercepted and played the ball into space, to the middle of the area. The crowd were willing him to shoot, and he obliged, hitting a low and hard powerful side-foot shot to the keepers right and into the net. The crowd cheered, it was a great finish by John, and the Relics had one hand on the league trophy. From the kick-off, Blackpool played several good passes and tried to move forward, but again, the Relics intercepted with Tex, who then had a foray forward, taking a defender on the outside and hitting a powerful shot. It was saved but the ref had decided it was running in any case. Blackpool now enjoyed some possession but as was previous, were not making any clear-cut chances. They again resorted to a long range shot that sailed over the bar. Now it was the turn of Bury to have possession, carefully looking for openings in advanced positions. Keiren was working hard trying to be in a position to receive the ball, and Jerry too was working hard down the right-hand side. Then a triangle of passes from John W to Keiren and then Bob, led to a good chance that Bob just hit over the bar; great move anyway. On the next Relics attack, the ball was played to Jerry on the right, who hit as pile-driver of a shot that just flashed across the goal; another good effort. That was the last meaningful action of the game, and the final whistle went to give Bury Relics victory.
Result; Bury Relics 1-0 Blackpool Senior Seasider’s
Bury Relics Over 70’s versus Rochdale Strollers
This game was the big one; as long as Bury did not lose to Rochdale, they are champions. Bury kick-off and are quickly on the attack, with Keiren getting a couple of shots away, the first one blocked and the second one, from a wide position, saved by their keeper. The Rochdale keeper is wide awake though, and immediately plays a long ball down the middle to their #9, who turns sharply and hits a left foot shot just over the bar. Nice power and that chance was direct and out of nothing; danger for the Relics if they are not careful. The Relics have a free-kick as it was high and Tex works the ball to Keiren, who then plays it back to John W, who finds Bob on the left. He looks up and sees Tex joining the attack, and lays a perfect pass for Tex to hit a low and hard speculative shot, that the keeper had to be smartly down to save. A good reply for the Relics. Rochdale then have a spell of possession in the middle, with their #4 turning one way then the other to find a support player. Eventually the ball is worked forward but is intercepted by John W. From an Eddy throw-out, the Relics put another good passing move together, involving the whole team, culminating in John W having some space to shoot; he takes a low hard shot, but the keeper makes a good save. That was a well worked chance by the Relics, and they were close to taking the lead. Then brilliant play from both teams. First it is the Relics putting passes together, which are made possible by the good movement of the team, which leads to minor controversy, when Jerry is body checked. There are several complaints from players and supporters, but the Ref says “play on”, and now Rochdale put 4 passes together, and get the ball quickly up front with their #9. His quick turn puts him with only Eddy to beat, but Eddy is alert and deals with the shot with a quick right hand, to give a corner. That was a good opportunity for them. From the subsequent corner, Bury intercept and have a break on, with John W getting the ball out wide, right side of the box. He spots Bob calling for it across the area, and squares the ball. However, the keeper is alert to it, and intercepts while breaking into a trot. The Ref calls it running by the keeper, and it’s a free-kick to the Relics. From this, the ball is worked to Jerry, who closes one eye to take aim, but the execution is not quite right and it goes over the bar. It’s head height, and Rochdale quickly move forward from the free-kick and shoot, only for Tex to make a good block. Another head-height free-kick and another Rochdale shot, this time Eddy makes a simple save. Then comes a mystery decision. Bury pass and move around the Rochdale end of the pitch, with what looks like good play, then suddenly the whistle goes. It is not clear what the offence was, but at least it was a Relics ball. Then, the Relics enjoy another good spell of pass and move possession, after intercepting Rochdale, which crescendo-ed to a Keiren chance, who hit a powerful shot that was on target but was too close to the keeper. Good power and a decent effort. The first half ends, the second half starts, and play resumes with a similar pattern, with Bury on top. Keiren is seeing a lot of the ball, and making good movement and bringing the midfield into the game. It is great play from the Relics, probing the Rochdale defence, with Keiren, John W and Jerry trying to find an opening to shoot. No luck this time, and Rochdale quickly play the ball down to their #9 striker. He delays for a while with the ball at his feet, then suddenly bursts past Bob and gets a shot away. Eddy saves it, as there are shouts of running. It was not obviously running but it was a fast turn to get the space to shoot. Well done Eddy for making sure and being safe. Relics then played a triangle between Tex, John W and finally Jerry on the right-hand side, who saw the opportunity to shoot, and did. It was on target and for a moment, it looked like it could squirm under the keeper, but alas, not today. The keeper gratefully gathered the ball. On the subsequent Rochdale attack, the keeper rolled the ball to the midfield, who passed back into the defence, and he subsequently hit the line. Neat play by #9 took 2 Relics players out of the picture and he played into the midfield. The midfielder had space to shoot, so a Relics defender closed him down. Instead of shooting, he saw another Rochdale player free on the edge of the Relics area, and played him in. He quickly turned and hit a shot passed Eddy and onto the post. That was Rochdale’s best move and the closest they were to scoring. The game continued with Bury passing and moving well, with Bob, Tex, John W, Jerry and Keiren all passing and moving into the space. No clear-cut shots from this play, and Rochdale were very direct when they intercepted, by getting the ball quickly to their #9, who was using either his quick reflexes or skill to make shots. One such shot, was going into the top corner before Eddy got his hands to it. A good and important save. Then it was a good move from a kick-in by Relics, with Tex playing the ball to John W, who fed Keiren. Tex moved into space, in the centre of goal, and received a lay off from Keiren. He strook the ball hard but it was just too high. John W also had a high shot late on in this game, but that was the last of the action, and the draw meant Bury Relics over 70s were champions.
Result; Bury Relics 0-0 Rochdale Strollers
Bury Relics Over 70’s versus Preston
Preston kick-off and put 6 or so passes together, before finally getting the ball up-front to their striker. He manages to turn but he is too close to Bob, who gets a foot in, to take all the sting out of the shot. From the kick-out, Bury put several passes together, but a pass down the line goes astray. Preston now have possession but are intercepted by the Relics. However, while the Relics are passing the ball around the defence, their striker nips in to have a snap shot, which Eddy easily gathers. Nearly a gift for them. Eddy subsequently bowls out wide to Bob, who exquisitely turns his marker to pass the ball into the middle, where John W receives it in acres of space. It appears John W does not realize how much time and space he has, as it was a good shooting chance, but the defence just get back in time to hold him up. The game begins to stutter a bit, with neither team string many passes, but a hopeful ball forward by Preston, puts their striker up against Jerry, who stands firm and prevents him from turning and shooting. From a Preston corner, Bob does well to clear the ball to John W, who tries to get the ball further clear, only to be closed down by Preston, who get a shot away. Eddy is easily behind it to save. Eddy plays a nice long ball up to Keiren who holds it up and lays off to Jerry in the middle, who plays a one-two with John and plays it back to Keiren. Meanwhile, Keith B makes space by taking a defender away, which leaves a space for Jerry to go into. However, the Preston forward spots his chance to intercept and does so, which gives him a run at goal. But disaster is averted in the form of Bob, who quickly gets back to make a challenge. The next passage of play involves both teams playing several passes, and then giving the ball away. On the final occasion, it is Bury who have possession, and work the ball out to John W, who is wide on the left. He sees a half chance, and fires a cruise missile across the goal. It’s spectacular, as the keeper goes sprawling to cover his far post, but it was OK from his point of view as it went wide. Then it was Eddy’s turn to make spectacular saves, denying their #5 twice in quick succession: on the first occasion, their goalkeeper plays it out to their defender, who passes down the line to their striker, who turns and runs without touching the ball, and Bob has to keep up with him, shoulder to shoulder. The Preston striker shoots, but Bob’s big toe makes a telling touch to take all the power out of the shot and enables Eddy just to catch it. Great defending. Then, from Eddy’s throw out, Bury immediately lose the ball, and #5 becomes free and alone on the edge of the box. He is fed and turns to shoot at Eddy, despite the last ditch attempts by Jerry to get back. The shot is powerful and Eddy gets behind it, but there is a top-spin ricochet and the ball could go anywhere. On this occasion, the ball spins and bounces gently against the post and into Eddy’s grateful arms. On the next Bury attack, they win a free-kick, which is well worked by John W, and Keiren, who lays it to Jerry, who hits a hard shot that is only just wide of the top-left hand corner. That’s the last action of the half. The second half starts with an energized Bury Relics team on the attack, with good battling and passing around the Preston area, which ended with a Keith B shot. Then their keeper quickly passes out to wide right, and their player hits a pass right down the middle to a player on the edge of the Relics box. Although he is marked, he makes a good turn and shot, and it’s going in, low to the keepers left. Only a quick and agile dive by Eddy stops the goal and puts the ball out for a corner. A good save indeed by Eddy. Preston lose the ball from the corner, and Eddy plays a good ball to John W in the middle, who first waits and then turns his man and plays a good ball up to Keith B, with a bit of zip. While the ball is travelling to Keith B, John W exploits the small amount of space in front of him and moves into it. Keith, cleverly, hits a first time lay-off back to John, who majestically rifles a shot from distance into the top-right-hand corner of the net. A roar from the Relics supporters ensued, and it was worthy of such celebration, a great move and a sensational strike. Keith B played his part with a deft lay off, and John W absolutely thundered it in; 1-0 to the Relics. The Preston keeper needed a moment of therapy, and just put his hands on his hips in despair. From the centre, Bury regain possession and win a free-kick in an advanced position. Tony puts the ball down and evaluates his options, selecting a pass to John W, who hits a first-time low shot to the keepers left, but he makes the save this time. Several minutes of pinball among both sets of players took place, with neither team making a clear-cut chance. Eventually a chance falls to Keith B on the left of the area, who has found a bit of space, he hits a hard shot but the keeper is equal to it, to make a save. Then, immediately, the ball is down at the Bury end, and Preston’s #7 has a similar chance to Kieth’s, but he hits his chance wide. Then Preston make another chance, which finds their #5 free and one-on-one with only Eddy to beat. He hits a hard shot to the right of Eddy, but Eddy is pin-sharp and gets 2 hands to the shot, pushing the ball wide of the goal. A great save for Eddy. The last few minutes of the game has Preston camped outside the Bury area but with the Relics holding firm and not giving any space away. Following an interception by Bury, a pass is over hit and out for a kick-in, but it does matter as the final whistle goes, and it’s smiles all around for the Bury Relics players and supporters. Bury Relics are confirmed champions of the GMWFL Spring League.
Result; Bury Relics 1-0 Preston
Bury Relics absolutely deserved this, League Champions, undefeated and only conceded 1 goal all season.
The entire team has played well, not just today but for all fixtures in this league. From the defensive players such as Eddy the keeper, Tex, Bob, Tony, Dave, Peter A and Pat, to the midfield battling of John W and Jerry, and the hard-working Keiren and Keith B, who played both up-front and in midfield. John W’s and his red slipper boots provided the goals today but others such as Keiren, Tex and Jerry have also been on the score sheet too this season. Also, the behind the scenes work of manager Keith S and Ken have contributed, guiding and encouraging the team and sorting the formations. A big congratulations and well done to today’s squad: Keiren, Bob, Tex (C), John W, Keith B, Tony, Pat the cat, Jerry and Eddy the keeper. Thank you to the enthusiastic support who turned up, that included Stewart, Carl, Iain and Dave. Report and videos by Dr. John.
Final league table
|GMWFL Spring 2022 season, Over 70’s final league table||P||W||D||L||GD||PTS|
|2||Rochdale AFC Strollers||16||5||9||2||4||24|
|4||Manchester Senior Citizens||16||2||7||7||-5||13|
|5||Preston North End||16||1||9||6||-6||12|
Video highlights of this fixture’s games
Bury vs. Blackpool click-here
Bury vs. Rochdale click-here
Bury vs. Preston click-here
Video of just the goals click-here
Montage of Eddy saves click-here
Tex picking up the trophy click-here
For all the GMWFL Spring 2022 fixtures, results and league tables, see the Match Centre page here