Weston AFC over-50s 'best team in country' after WFA National Cup triumph
- Credit: Walking Football Association (WFA)
Weston AFC over-50s walking footballers now stand alone as the “best team in the country” after their latest triumph earlier this month.
Their 2-0 victory over Leeds United, in Barnsley, saw them crowned Pharmacy2U Walking Football Association (WFA) National Cup champions for the first time in their history.
They have already secured Gloucester League and Super Cup victories.
“It’s an honour. I’m so pleased for the club and for all the players,” over-50s player-manager Lach Geddes said.
“We’ve worked hard, seriously worked really hard, for the last couple of years to get to this position and I’m so proud of everybody at the club.
“All the people that come to all the sessions, it’s for the whole club for everybody is involved it’s brilliant.”
After last year’s disappointment of going out in the group stages, the Seagulls started proceedings with a 4-1 win over Cheddar in the first round of the South West region before beating local rivals Clevedon 3-0 in the knock-out stages.
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Weston then beat Highworth 3-1 in the South West and South Wales Regional final to secure themselves a place in the WFA grand finals.
In the group stages they beat Hemel Hempstead, 3-2, and Leeds, 1-0, before drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest, which included former professional footballers Gary Britles and Nigel Jemson, to secure a place in the semi-finals against Wokingham.
A comfortable 4-1 victory saw Weston face Leeds in the final.
And the result was never in doubt when Leeds supporter Steve Crilley scored twice to send the cup to Somerset.
“We deserve it. I would suggest we were the best team at the tournament,” England international Crilley said, whose two goals in the final saw him finish the tournament with eight goals and end the competition as top goalscorer.
“We were run close by Forest Vets, they were a really good side and had two good games against Leeds. It’s always nice to come out as winners.
“Last year we were at the tournament, we were given a footballing lesson. We all discussed it all year, particularly Lach (Geddes) and myself, and we wanted to be the best and we wanted to get to that final first and foremost.
“We played some good teams along the way to get to that final and then put things right that we didn’t do right last year. Being at the final was amazing it was great to get to the final but Leeds are a good a side we still had some work to do.
“We got stronger and stronger throughout the tournament and arguably they didn’t.
“Weston are now on the map with Walking Football, at the moment arguably the best team in the county and long may it stay that way.”
Geddes added: “It’s just the icing on the cake because we played against so many former pros and the lads have done fabulously.
“We’ve got a set system, we work hard for each other, we play with no fear and we play front foot football and they just go out to win and that’s we do, we go out to win.
“As soon as we got into the changing rooms, we looked around and we all congratulated ourselves and the first thing I said was “can we do it again”?
“That’s what important is to keep moving forwards and keep improving and we are out to retain it next year. We are not arrogant we know we have got to work harder and harder and that’s what we are going to do.”
Their success has sparked coverage with local TV and Radio stations speaking with the side.
And during half-time of Weston’s match with Yate Town, at The Optima Stadium, Geddes along with goalkeeper and captain John Hembrow and club president Dennis Usher held aloft the the trophy to applause and cheering from the supporters.
“We don’t get many chances to do something like that, that’s two years running now we have got to last eight which is a big achievement,” Hembrow said:
“Hopefully we can do it again but you just have to take your chance when it comes and we did. It was great winning it and also winning it with friends which is fantastic and for Weston.
“When it all started four/five years ago and when I joined the club I didn’t know anyone there. Now I’ve got 70/80 friends who play for the club and from that point of view it’s really good. It’s put Weston on the map.
“It went mad for a couple of days over here interviews and friends seeing you on the telly and people haven’t been in touch with me for a while all of a sudden. It’s just wonderful.”