On Saturday, June 17, Gillingham FC Community Trust headed to Bodymoor Health Training Ground – home of Aston Villa – with Herne Bay Walking Football Club for the final of the EFL Trust Walking Football Cup.
The team were there representing Gillingham FC as one of the 12 teams in the final, having taken home the trophy at the Regional Final in April.
The Gills were drawn in Group 1, and faced tough opposition from teams representing Dagenham & Redbridge, Blackburn Rovers, Kidderminster Harriers, Sheffield United and 2015 Champions Plymouth Argyle.
The Gills put on a strong performance across the group stage, recording two confident 1-0 wins against Dagenham & Redbridge and previous winners Plymouth Argyle. Despite their best efforts though, the team couldn't quite breakthrough on goal in their other matches, finishing their games against Blackburn, Sheffield United and Kidderminster 1-0 down.
The Gills' results left them fourth in their group, just one win away from progressing to the semi-finals. The qualifiers from Group 1 – Sheffield United and Kidderminster Harriers – then went on to win their respective semi-finals, meeting again in the final before Sheffield United were crowned the 2017 Winners.
Gillingham FC Community Trust's Barry Cooper, who went with the team to the final, said: "I would like to say how extremely proud we felt on Saturday. The team from Herne Bay who represented Gillingham FC were very professional in their approach and the way they conducted themselves during the whole tournament. They tried to play football and were unlucky to lose out on three occasions by the score of 1-0.
"A big thank you to Ron Boddy, Chairman of Herne Bay Football Club, for helping our partnership work so well. It was great to reinforce the links between both clubs, especially having two ex-Gillingham Academy coaches playing for the team in the final."
Ron Boddy added: "The members of the Herne Bay Football Club Walking team were very proud and pleased to have been asked by Gillingham FC to represent them in the EFL Trust Walking Football Cup 2017. The qualifying round at Millwall FC proved successful with the win on penalties over Dagenham & Redbridge. This led to the Final at the very impressive Aston Villa training ground in Birmingham.
"There were 12 strong teams that made it to the final, and our team managed wins over Plymouth Argyle and Dagenham & Redbridge again. It was disappointing [to finish fourth in our group], as the team would have liked to progress further. However we had a very enjoyable day, and it was a pleasure to represent Gillingham FC."
Thank you to the EFL Trust and Aston Villa FC for hosting a fantastic final, and a massive thank you and well done to the team from Herne Bay Walking Football Club for doing the Gills proud on the national stage!
Find out more about Walking Football here.