An account of the first game of “Walking Football” played onsite, and possibly, the first such game in Spain!
There was tension on the old Bowling Green at Camping Los Gallardos on Sunday as two teams faced each other for what is probably the first game of ‘Walking Football’ in Almería, or perhaps the whole of Spain.
This first game was the brainchild of resident Peter Kelly. “I was inspired to do it,” said Peter, “after seeing an advert on TV where one of the high street banks gave funding to someone who wanted to start a ‘Walking Football Club’.
“I approached the Jackson family with my suggestion and they were over the moon about it. They have supplied us with the goalposts, footballs and, probably more importantly, allowing use of the old bowling green for the match.
In a crude attempt for sympathy some team members turned up wearing neck braces or swathed in bandages while others were in wheelchairs.
Proudly wearing their black tee shirts, ‘The Coffin Dodgers’ limped bravely on to the pitch to take on their rivals, ‘The Seizure Stoppers’ who wore mainly white tee shirts. At this stage, neither team made use of the free oxygen readily available.
The rules of the game were read out: no running, no kicking the ball above waist height, no sliding tackles, and no smoking on the pitch. This last rule caused a certain amount of controversy, but after some passive negotiation all concerned came to an agreement.
The team captains shook hands and then promptly at 10.30 Peter Kelly blew the whistle and with a great cheer from the many spectators surrounding the pitch, the game was underway.
Within seconds Peter had blown the whistle, “No running!” he commanded as several players from both sides allowed their enthusiasm to get the better of them.
On several occasions the ball was kicked out of play resulting in an underarm throw in.
Then, a miracle occurred that had both teams and spectators stunned. After only 15 minutes of play ‘The Seizure Stoppers’ scored a goal. The crowd went wild and Peter threatened to send them away if they could not behave.
Thankfully, order was restored and the game resumed once more.
Heady with success, ‘The Seizure Stoppers’ attacked the goal without mercy – or oxygen -and were rewarded with yet another goal.
Then disaster. A foul! Who had perpetrated this dastardly deed? None other than Matt (The assassin) Delaney. The Red card came out and, smarting over the injustice but not wanting to make a fuss, Matt was dragged from the field screaming obscenities at the ref.
Much to the concern of the volunteer First Aiders, who had not anticipated having to do anything, the crowd was going wild. Oxygen and peppermints were handed out on a first come first served basis and order was restored. The Coffin Dodgers fought hard but despite several near misses could not get the ball in the net.
Suddenly the whistle was blown for half time. Most players left the pitch under their own steam, others were helped and some just passed out and were left where they lay.
Several pints of lager later the whistle was blown indicating the start of the second half. Almost immediately replacement striker Peter Diver scored a goal for the Seizure stoppers and unbelievably scored yet again a few minutes later. Seizure Stoppers now had a commanding 4-0 lead.
With an over enthusiastic kick the ball was accidentally kicked into the undergrowth. A female fan went into the bushes closely followed by a male fan. Time passed and eventually they came out looking rather sheepish, flushed and out of breath. Various people exchanged knowing looks but nothing was said.
Play had already resumed because someone had the good sense to bring a spare ball. There was some confusion after this as for a short while both balls were in play and the game took on a whole new dimension. The second ball was taken out of play and normality(?) reigned again. Unbelievably, and about three seconds before the final whistle the Seizure Stoppers scored yet again, making it 5 – 1.
At the inquest, or more accurately the bar, various supporters and fans discussed the decisions made by referee Peter Kelly. Comments such as “Should have gone to Spec Savers,” “stupid”, “twit” and “rubbish” were heard, and one woman said she thought the ref was “Completely incontinent”. A little later it was decided that she meant “incompetent”. Someone raised the point that there should have been linesmen but as most people thought we didn’t really have a ref it was felt that linesmen would have been superfluous.
In his defence Peter (A sprightly 76) replied: “I had to take it easy on all those old boys, too much use of the whistle would have sent them all home with headaches!”
So now the challenge is on. If your players are over 50 and you think you can put together a team who are brave enough to take on the best of a team formed from ‘The Coffin Dodgers’ and ‘The Seizure Stoppers’ contact the office on 950 528 324 at Camping Los Gallardos and Peter Kelly will contact you to arrange a match.
Weather permitting, the next game will be played on Sunday, December 7 at Camping Los Gallardos on the old bowling green. Kick off 10.30 AM.
By William White.