The Grand Finals await our Walking Football team
The Gills are through to the Grand Finals of the EFL Trust’s Walking Football Cup after a fantastic performance in the recent Regional Final hosted at Millwall FC.
Running for the third year, the EFL Trust’s Walking Football Cup is aimed specifically at the over 50’s, with 1,500 men and women taking part in the Cup this year.
Six Regional Finals have been taking place across the country, with teams representing 70 EFL and National Conference clubs getting involved. The top two teams from each Regional Final reach the Grand Final played at the Bodymoor Heath Training Ground, home of Aston Villa’s first team.
At their Regional Final, the Gills were represented by Herne Bay Walking Football Club. With 10 clubs taking part in the tournament, the Gills were drawn up against teams representing Charlton, Fulham, Crawley, and Dagenham and Redbridge.
The Gills made a strong start in their group matches, winning 2-0 against Charlton’s team in their first game. Up against Fulham next, there was another strong defensive performance from the players, with the Gills recording a second successive victory and clean sheet with a 1-0 win.
Buoyed by their success, the team went into their third match against Crawley Town’s team in high spirits, and a lively performance led to a fantastic 8-0 victory for the Gills!
The Gills’ final group match was against the team from Dagenham and Redbridge. The Gills players put on another strong performance, but their opponents were tough, and after conceding their first goal of the tournament the Gills weren’t quite able to draw the score line level again, losing their final game 0-1.
Despite the result, the Gills’ earlier success carried them through to the semi-finals, where the team were up against QPR. Both teams showed great skills, but the Gills’ defence held tight, and an excellent goal gave them a 1-0 win and took them straight into the final.
On the other pitch, Dagenham and Redbridge saw off competition from Leyton Orient to also make the final, setting up a fantastic replay, and a chance for the Gills to claim back a victory.
As the final got underway, both teams were evenly matched, and equally as determined to win. The Gills’ defence remained steadfast, but they couldn’t quite break through past the Dagenham and Redbridge team, ending the game 0-0. Extra time was played, but again both teams held firm and the game remained goalless, taking the final to a tense penalty shootout.
Despite the pressure, the Gills held their nerve, and after a close round of penalties the Gills were up 3-2, crowning them Regional Final winners!
The win puts the team through to the Grand Finals at Aston Villa’s training ground later this year, alongside second-placed Dagenham and Redbridge.
“A big thank you to Herne Bay Chairman Ron Boddy for organising the team and transportation to Millwall,”said Barry Cooper, South Kent Development Officer for the Gillingham FC Community Trust, who went with the team to the Regional Final. “Herne Bay Walking Football Club have given up their time to represent Gillingham FC, so we want to say a big congratulations and thank you for their support. We’re looking forward to the Grand Final in Birmingham, and I will see them there!”
Thank you to the EFL Trust and Millwall Community Trust for hosting a great tournament, and well done to the team from Herne Bay Walking Football Club for their fantastic performance – you certainly did the Gills proud!
Find out more about Walking Football here.