The prestigious Zimmer Awards – walking football’s equivalent of the Oscars – were the highlight of the East Algarve Walking Football Christmas Dinner in Olhão recently.
Well over a hundred players, officials and their partners were joined by special guests from SC Olhanense, Clive Jewell (British Vice- consul) and Lorraine & Clive Burke from Tavira Conceição’s Hairy Lemon Pool Bar & Kitchen.
Chris Wright welcomed guests who stood in memory of those departed; Mike Wreford, Ronnie Stevens, and Gordon Palmer. MC Jonathan Syed thanked referees Gordon Linford and Alan McGovern, who were presented with referee’s jackets followed by a small gift to the first marriage in the club: Gillian and Jon Berrill tied the knot in Gretna Green earlier in the year. As crackers were pulled and paper hats donned, Jonathan Syed highlighted the club’s achievements and commemorative lapel badges – featuring seven gold stars signifying seven consecutive tournament victories – were presented to players and officials.
A light hearted penalty competition saw Paul Shawe attempting to save shots from Sue Charles, Jo Diprose, Tanya Fox, and Christine Wright who received commemorative mugs for their sterling fund-raising efforts. Cheques were presented to the Portuguese Cancer League (Portuguesa Contra o Cancro for Euros 1200) and SC Olhanense junior section (Euros 640).
The Zimmers, voted for by the players, went to: Andy Smith (Player of the Year), Yours truly (Club Person of the Year), Paul Shawe (Most Improved Player), and Mick Coleman (Mike Wreford Newcomer of the Year). A Special Achievement Award recognising the club’s ‘inclusivity and diversity’ was presented to Sue Charles. The Andrex Award (formerly the Diarrhoea Award) for the player who has run the most was won again by Jeff Denman.
British Vice-consul Clive Jewell, who played in the first ever international walking football match between Soccer Olhanense Strollers and Cove Rapidly Ageing Pensioners (Hampshire) three years ago, remarked on the club’s phenomenal success and how the camaraderie and social interaction within such groups was so invaluable.
Chris Wright, who introduced walking football to the Algarve, then presented the inaugural President’s Award to Jonathan Syed in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the success of East Algarve Walking Football.
Entertainment was provided by Jon Berrill with his Musical Bingo and a fitting climax saw DJ Mike Bristow get everyone on their feet to dance the night away.
As club spokesperson Andy Smith was heard to say, “if we put this amount of effort into our walking football games we’d be world champions!”