Over 50 and missing the hybrid scent of liniment and sweat? Then get yourself and your leather-studded boots down to Linlithgow Rugby indoor arena on a Monday at 18.15 prompt!
Seven years ago, in the unlikely venue of Chesterfield, a football revolution broke out. It wasn't an uprising of the Birmingham Zulus, the Millwall Bushwhackers, the Hull City Psychos, the Falkirk Fear or any other football hooligan army. No, at the other extreme, it was a gentle version of the beautiful game, played at the walk!
Devised originally by Chief Soccer Coach of the Chesterfield Community Trust, Andy Morris, to enable over 60s to resurrect their competitive instincts and lust for glory (and maybe, as a by-product, to keep fit), the perambulatory game today also encompasses the 50-60s and folk with physical difficulties. The pitch can be anything from 30 to 40 yards long by 15 to 30 yards wide. A player who breaks out of a walk concedes a free kick and risks the wrath of his teammates. Slidetackles are banned (shame), and the ball must stay below hip height (so it helps to have Michael Jordan in your team). Goalies are optional. Outdoors a normal football is used, indoors a size 4 futsol ball.
The aim is to afford a good cardiovascular workout whilst minimising the physical stresses and risks of normal footy or 5 a-side. In Linlithgow, they don't actually wear leather-studded boots (though those now in their 70s did in their prime).
David Callaghan became chairman of the Linlithgow Rose community football club in April, when the club formalised its status. He has ever been an enthusiastic local sportsman and his three sons are cast in his mould, playing football or rugby (in one case both) for the town teams. He tells me the club's aims follow the Chesterfield recipe, with fun, laughter, craic and banter folded in. From half a dozen two and a half years ago, the club now musters 21 registered and an average 18 playing each Monday.
Everybody, without exception, ><50plus is assured of a warm welcome. There's a rainbow of attitudes, experience and health histories: competitors and jokers, novices and old foxes, gammy knees, replacement hips and heart attacks, yet close camaraderie is the pot of gold at the end. Having tested their mettle already against Raith Rovers, soon the club will face Motherwell and then it's "bring on the competitions", especially the Walking Football Scottish Cup next June!
David's rallying cry rings out "Come on down! It's the best 90 minutes fun out there for £3!"
Now where did I leave my shinpads?
First published in Konect August 2018
Author: David Levin