The 6th Browns Walking Football Tournament, held in Vilamoura on May 5th and 6th, was a tournament of two contrasting days.
Day one proved to be a great success for both East Algarve Walking Football (EAWF) over 50s teams (representing Olhão and Tavira) and the Olhão A over 60s team, with all three winning their respective groups. Day two, however, didn’t go so well for them.
Over 50s Trophy
There were 12 teams in the over 50s tournament, split into three groups of 4 on day one in a round robin format.
Tavira found themselves grouped with our old friends Clitheroe and SC Farense A, along with newcomers Aurora Bangors. Tavira had an impressive first day, winning all three games (2-0 versus Aurora, 1-0 versus Farense and 1-0 versus Clitheroe) to top their group comfortably. This put them in a strong position for the qualifying game on day two, where they faced the bottom team in group A Compton Town.
Unfortunately, Compton Town were in a false position from day one and were known to be a very strong team. A hard fought 0-0 draw left a penalty shootout to decide who progressed to the Cup/Plate competition and who ended in the Bowl/Wood competition. Unfortunately for EAWF, Compton took the shootout 3-2 and consigned Tavira to the bottom half of the draw. Here a 0-0 draw with Skipton and 1-0 victory over Odiaxere failed to get them to the Wood final due to their squad age being younger than others, a very bizarre way of separating equal teams. Their only defeat in open play in the whole tournament, with the first goals conceded by them, against Carnoustie (1-2) saw them finally finish 4th in the Wood Trophy and 10th overall, despite being unbeaten in open play and conceding no goals up to that point!
Similarly to Tavira, Olhão started day 1 well, with victories over a very strong Compton Town side by 2-1 (with goals from Ian and Mo), a 0-0 draw with SC Farense B in a game dominated by Olhão, and victory over Ipswich by 2-0 (with goals again from Ian and Mo) leaving them top of Group A. This left them with a qualifying game against the bottom team in Group B, Skipton.
A nervy first half left Olhão still 0-0 at half time in the qualifying game, but a fantastic team goal from the kick-off finished by Ian settled them down and a second later on from Karl provided them with an easy passage into the Cup/Plate competition. Here they were grouped with Compton Town (again) and the other Farense team, SC Farense A. Olhão beat Compton again by the same scoreline as on day one, 2-1, with the goals from Ian and Jesus. This left them with one game against Farense knowing a victory would take them to the Cup final and a draw would leave the group open. Olhão dominated the game completely; unfortunately, a costly error gifted Farense a goal and Olhão just couldn’t score, even missing two penalties. Farense then really rubbed salt in to our wounds by playing out a 0-0 draw with Compton, leaving Farense top of the group and through to the Cup Final, with Olhão finishing second in the group.
Olhão recovered their composure to beat Ipswich 3-0 in the 3/4 place play-off with goals from Jean-Marc (2) and Jesus.
Despite both EAWF teams only losing one game in open play, they only managed to finish 3rd and 10th. Amazingly, Browns over 50s didn’t lose a single game in open play, yet they only finished 8th overall, while the two finalists both lost two games during the tournament. Work that one out!
Over 60s Trophy
EAWF entered three teams in the over 60s Trophy, with Olhão A and B and Tavira all taking part.
The over 60s tournament saw 8 teams in two groups of 4 on day one to decide the seeding for the qualifying games on day two.
EAWF Olhão A
Olhão A were placed in Group B alongside Carnoustie, Skipton and Tavira. An opening 1-0 victory over Tavira (with a goal from Paul Burn) was followed by another tight battling 1-0 win, this time from a Mick Coleman goal. As they had won their opening two games they knew a draw with Skipton would be enough to top the group, so they were happy with a 0-0 draw to see them matched against the bottom team in group A, which unfortunately for the club happened to be Olhão B. A comfortable 2-0 victory saw Olhão A into the Cup Semi-Finals.
The semi-final was a local derby against Browns. The first half was another tight game, but an absolute screamer from Jon Berrill looked to have given Olhão A a place in the final. Unfortunately, Olhão conceded a penalty in the last few seconds which Roddy scored for Browns to take the match to penalties.
Micky C hit the post with Olhão’s first pen, and then Roddy scored his for Browns to give Browns the edge. Jon Berrill also missed for Olhão giving Browns the chance of victory. However, Steve Gowan in goal for Olhão saved Browns next kick and then Paul Burn scored for Olhão. This left Browns still needing to score with their final kick; however, they missed and took the tie to sudden death. Both teams then missed their next spot kicks leaving the keepers to take the final kicks. Unfortunately, Steve missed for Olhão and the Browns keeper scored to put them through.
Like the over 50s team, Olhão A over 60s bounced back from disappointment to beat Carnoustie 2-0 in the 3/4 place play off, captain Paolo and Micky C providing the goals to keep Olhão A unbeaten in normal time over the whole tournament and only conceding one goal.
EAWF Olhão B and EAWF Tavira
The other two EAWF teams in the over 60s tournament were always going to struggle due to a lack of players. Olhão B started with a 0-0 draw against Ipswich, but then lost 0-3 against Browns and 0-1 against SC Farense on day one to finish bottom of Group A. Tavira didn’t manage a point or a goal on day one, with defeats against Olhão A (0-1), Skipton (0-2) and Carnoustie (0-1) leaving them also bottom of their group.
Day two saw the qualification games, with Olhão B having to play (and losing to) Olhão A as mentioned above. Tavira had to play Group A winners Farense who had a 100% record on day one. Unfortunately, Farense triumphed by a single goal despite a valiant effort by the Tavira players. Thus both teams ended up in the Plate Trophy semi-finals, where both teams lost again without scoring. This left the two teams facing each other in the Plate 3/4 place play-off. A 1-1 draw couldn’t separate the teams and so both teams finished joint 7th in the over 60s tournament.
EAWF Olhão over 60s were very unlucky, with the dreaded shoot out loss to Browns being so close, yet keeping them unbeaten in open play over the whole tournament.
Special mention must go to Peter Walpole, with the EAWF player again getting the “Forever Young” trophy as the oldest player at the tournament – a sprightly 84 years of age!
Ultimately a disappointing tournament for the EAWF teams. Both over 50s teams played well and deserved better placings, as did the Olhão A over 60s team. Unfortunately, and as mentioned before, the small goals make scoring very difficult and reduce a lot of the important games to a random penalty shoot out where anything could happen. Two third places is better than nothing we guess…
It was good to meet old friends, though, with Clitheroe, Carnoustie and Odiaxere being particularly welcoming again. Also, great to meet the Compton and Ipswich teams, who both played the game the right way and were good fun to be with. Hopefully we will see them all again soon.