On Saturday 22nd January, Kent FA hosted the 50+ Walking Football Cup at the YMCA in Maidstone. Fifteen teams from across the county battled it out, but Woodnesborough were triumphant winning 2-0 against the reigning champions, Maidstone United.
After the group stages the top two teams from each group and the two top third-placed teams made up the quarterfinals. Maidstone United, Woodnesborough and Herne Bay topped their respective groups emerging as three of the favourites going into the knockout stage of the tournament. Maidstone United and Woodnesborough both progressed (after beating The Bell, Ivychurch and Chatham Town respectively), however, Margate (who came third in their group) managed to upset the odds to beat Herne Bay and progress into the semi-finals. Tonbridge Town narrowly missed out on the semi-finals after losing on penalties to Bexley in a very evenly contested fixture.
With just four teams left in the competition, Maidstone United came up against Bexley and Woodnesborough took on Margate. Maidstone United won 2-0 against Bexley, with Bexley having a goal disallowed late on in the game. Woodnesborough were pushed in a very tight contest against Margate, but a late goal was the difference and Woodnesborough won 1-0.
This set up an exciting final between two very strong sides, the reigning champions, Maidstone United, versus the winners of the 60+ Walking Football Cup, Woodnesborough. Both teams were yet to concede a goal in the tournament. In the final, Woodnesborough got a superb opening goal early on and then a rare mistake from Maidstone United led to the decisive second goal. Once the full-time whistle was blown, both teams showed great camaraderie, applauding each other during the medal and trophy presentation.
Harry Burgess, Football Development Assistant - “I thoroughly enjoyed this tournament and I believe it is a great advert for this rapidly growing sport. For a number of the teams, it was their first taste of competitive walking football and everyone played their fixtures with brilliant spirit. I would wholeheartedly recommend walking football to anyone interested in getting physically active or looking for social activity, the participants regularly prove to me that age does not have to be a barrier to keeping active. I would also like to thank the three referees that meticulously officiated the competition. Congratulations to Woodnesborough who have become the 50+ and 60+ Walking Football Cup holders.”