Finland looking to develop walking football

 WFS meet with the Football Association of Finland at Hampden Park

WFS meet with the Football Association of Finland at Hampden Park

Walking Football Scotland was discussing the walking football game today, with a delegation from Finland, including members of the Football Association of Finland at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The delegation were here to look at walking football and study how we are playing the game in Scotland, as they look to develop the game in Finland.

Speaking on the positive impacts that physical activity in sport can have on our mental health and wellbeing Walking Football Scotland Chairman Gary McLaughlin and Board Trustee Matt Ramsay, representing Glasgow Sport were joined by Robert Nesbitt of SAMH, who spoke on the Mental Health benefits walking football brings along with Richard McBrearty of the Scottish Football Museum, speaking on the wonderful Football Memories programme.

 Walking Football Scotland Chairman Gary McLaughlin

Walking Football Scotland Chairman Gary McLaughlin

  Robert Nesbitt of SAMH 

 Robert Nesbitt of SAMH 

The delegation continued to Bellahouston Leisure Centre where the Glasgow Sport team put on a great session of walking football. The Finnish delegation joined in with the Glasgow participants and everyone had a ball.

 Finnish delegation with some of the Glasgow Sport team

Finnish delegation with some of the Glasgow Sport team

Team Scotland Over 65's win the World cup

International Super Masters 5-aside Over 65s Walking Football World Cup Winners

 Harry Harvie holds the World Cup and celebrates with his victorious squad.

Harry Harvie holds the World Cup and celebrates with his victorious squad.

A combined team of walking footballers from Heart of Midlothian and Ayr United have won the International Super Masters 5-aside Over 65s Walking Football World Cup following a dramatic penalty shoot-out against auld enemy England.

The players who were runners up in last year’s competition were invited by tournament organisers to represent their country once again and this time they went one better, bringing the prestigious trophy back across the border.

Teams from Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, Gibraltar and Holland took part in the annual tournament which was held at Bristol University on Saturday.

Gibraltar’s national team provided the first opposition for the Scots and late goals from Harry Harvie and Tom Dowman secured a 2-0 victory and the first points of the day.

After a break in play, back to back games with Canada, represented by Inter UBC Veterans and then England, represented by Birmingham City, followed, and both matches ended goalless.

Next up were Holland’s international team who fielded a strong side containing three time European Cup winner Sjaak Swart, European Golden Boot winner Kees Kist and World Cup finalists Dick Schoenaker and Wim Rijsbergen.

In a hard-fought encounter, Captain Jimmy Bremner opened the scoring however a quickly taken free kick produced an equaliser before Tom Dowman grabbed a deserved winner.

The final ‘round robin’ fixture was against the Welsh national team and the Scots raced into a two-goal lead through Harry Harvie and Jim Bremner. Wales did manage a late consolation goal but the Scots held on to secure the two points.

At the conclusion of the fixtures, the Scots topped the table with eight points, one ahead of nearest rivals England and the pair faced each other in a winner takes all final.

The Scots dominated the game and took a deserved lead through Harry Harvie only for the English to equalise with the last kick and the final was decided on penalties.

Jimmy Bremner, John Crawford and Billy Thomson all converted from the spot whilst goalkeeper David Barr produced two fine saves to secure the coveted trophy and celebrations went long into the night.

Walking Football Scotland Chairman Gary McLaughlin congratulated the squad for their achievement.

“Everyone involved with walking football in Scotland are tremendously proud of the victorious squad. Well done to you all. This victory moves the selection of representative squads up the agenda for Walking Football Scotland. Starting out you usually have objectives and something to aim for. Winning the World cup, raises a challenging question for us. Where do we go from here?”

Jim Kirk the trip organiser and squad player said,

“It was a joy and a privilege for me at 72 years and 10 months old to play for Team Scotland In the International Super Masters 5-a-side Walking Football World Cup in Bristol, England and to Win this year’s competition after being runners up in Wales last year was an absolutely fabulous and emotional experience.

It was a moment in History and in my footballing life which will never be forgotten and it is only now that, as we have returned home to Ayrshire, I can reflect and realise just what we have achieved as “Team Scotland” +65’s Squad. We topped the League after the round robin sessions and, as last year, remained undefeated through 5 games. Winning the 2018 final, against a strong England Team, meant that we had put together a consecutive run over two years of 11 matches in this tournament undefeated, I would think a unique record for a Scottish Squad at any level.

The Squad was a real “TEAM” with everyone playing their part, from Jason Butler our Coach, David Watson our Manager, all the players as well as our own Tartan Army David Walkingshaw  and Norrie Campbell. What a supreme honour it was for me personally to take part with these great teammates and now true friends. Superb”

Scotland Squad : David Barr (Hearts), Allan Thomson (Hearts), Jimmy Bremner (Hearts),  Harry Harvie (Ayr United), Tom Dowman ( Ayr United), Billy Thomson (Ayr United), Chris Johnston (Ayr United), John Crawford (Ayr United) and Jim Kirk (Ayr United).

Manager David Watson and Coach Jason Butler.

 left David and Jason with the Trophy

left David and Jason with the Trophy

Tournament report by John Crawford:

A quick run in the mini-bus to the Bristol University Campus where the World Cup was to take place on Saturday the 12th of May. A shared dressing room with Gibraltar our first opponents allowed our managers David Watson and Jason Butler to ‘size up the opposition’. Once all the formalities were over it was down to action! First up were minnows Gibraltar who proved a tough nut to crack! However, Scotland prevailed with late goals from Harry Harvie and Tom Dowman securing the first points of the day. A break in games for Scotland before back to back games with first Canada and then England. The Canadian game proved to be a ‘little tousy’ with Chris Johnston first to be shown a ‘blue card’ along with his marker! With both sides a man down space opened up but no goals followed.

Next up were the ‘Auld Enemy’ England. A hard fought game transpired with neither team giving anything away and a goalless draw gave Scotland 4 points on the board. Another break in proceedings before another ‘back to back’ double header this time against first Holland and then Wales. 

The Dutch team contained four former full internationals including European Cup Winners, one Golden Ball Winner and all included in Dutch World Cup Squads. A terrific game ensued with Scotland giving ‘as good as they got’. Scotland opened the scoring through Captain Jimmy Bremner only for a quickly taken free-kick costing the leveller. However, there was to be ‘one more twist’ when Scotland snatched the winning goal through Tom Dowman. On to Wales next and another hard fought win. Scotland raced into a two-goal lead through Harry Harvie and Jim Bremner. A late consolation for the Welsh team meant they fell short and two more points for Scotland. When points and goal difference were calculated Scotland topped the round robin section with eight points and one goal better than the host nation. However, the playoff game clicked on with Scotland facing England in a final ‘winner takes all contest’. Scotland proceeded to control the game for the most part and took a well deserved lead through Harry Harvie. With the clock ticking down England were awarded a free kick in a wide area. The substitute player lashed at the ball and somehow it found its way into the net from an acute angle. Seconds later the referee blew for full time and the ‘dreaded penalty shoot out beckoned’. Three penalties each and then if level ‘sudden death’ 

First up were England 1-0. Jimmy Bremner for Scotland 1-1. A save from Scotland keeper Davie Barr then saw John Crawford convert his penalty for a 2-1 lead. England then converted for 2-2. Harry Harvie stepped up to win it for Scotland but the England keeper beat his effort away. Davie Barr then made another save to set it up again for Scotland again. This time Billy Thomson stepped up and scored for a 3-2 win for Scotland. World Cup Winners they indeed were!! A fantastic performance from every member of the squad as well as the Management Team. 

WCup winners.jpg

Walking Football Soaring in Scotland's Capital

Walking football in the capital is, like many other parts of the country, soaring in popularity. Edinburgh has four main walking football groups who are all reporting increased numbers at their sessions. 
Hearts are one of the city's most established groups with over 100 players on their data base and around 50 turning up each week. The group, which meet on a Tuesday play out of the World of Football at the Corn Exchange during the winter months but have recently moved outdoors back to their spiritual home at Tynecastle during the "summer". 
The Oriam group enjoy the benefits of playing in Scotland's superb national sports centre at Heriot Watt University campus on Wednesday and Fridays attracting an average of around 30 per session from over 50 registered players. 
On Mondays the Spartans Connections, who offer football opportunities right across the community, play out of the Spartans Community Football Academy with numbers ranging from 12 to 20. 
Edinburgh City have seen a surge in players over the last few months since having to move from, the soon to be demolished, Meadowbank to the Corn Exchange at Chesser. The group, who play every Thursday, now have almost 30 per session from a data base of over 50. 
The walking football scene is incredibly healthy in the capital with many participants playing 2 or 3 times per week across the city's groups which makes all the sessions friendly and newcomers and visitors to Edinburgh are most welcome at all the above groups.