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11 June 2016 v LFC Vets at Liverpool Academy, Kirkby

‘-The day we went to Kirkby !!’ …

"We're in Liverpool playing at the Academy...be there" said the message from Letchie. 10 minutes later Matt Beattie texts telling me to "bring your boots". 22 years have passed since I last played any football in the RAF and being down to one semi decent leg the last request was a no-go!! I did manage to get up there though where I saw some faces from the past and quite a few new ones (Everyone was younger than me I think with Jon Letch being the oldest player at a mere 56!!). My, how time flies and I'm sorry I hadn't been there the week before when David Salkeld played his last game at the ripe old age of 65...anyways onto the game...

The Vets were up against Liverpool Vets, a team whose average age was right on the limit I think...35, whilst the average age of the RAF was somewhere approaching 53!! Once the game kicked off however, the creaks seemed to disappear and the RAF created a number of chances, sadly missed, as hitting the target seemed a distant memory. Scott Taylor on the other hand, a centre forward of some repute who, through age, had decided to dabble with centre half came into this game as goalkeeper and proceeded to defy age, aching limbs and gravity with a myriad of saves that DeGea, Lloris, Buffon and even the great Lev Yashin would have struggled to make, making about 26 saves in the first half alone each one better than the previous. The first goal however was a joy to watch...scored for the RAF by Karl Connolly after some great work in midfield and down the right leading to a pinpoint cross on the run from Mick Clarke and finished with a bullet header from 8 yards. The Reds heads dropped a bit and the second came soon after when Kenny Hemlin shot across the keeper to give the RAF a 2-0 lead going into the break. Just before the break Letchie had to come off due to lack of oxygen and Big Lee went into the middle of the back four (or 10 when they had a corner cos no one could get back up the field quick enough!!). The second half saw the Reds regroup and a 5 minute onslaught at the start of the half saw the Reds pull one back, and it was a screamer, it had to be to beat Scotty. This galvanised the RAF and within 10 minutes they restored the two goal lead when Phil, playing at left back managed to stay up field and get on the end of a nice build up to steer the ball into the net...3-1 and looking good. Did I say "looking good?" Oops, that's when it all went wrong...oxygen was running out, legs were filling/filled with lactose and the medical team at Liverpool Hospital were put on alert for possible heart attacks...even Jon Pd Morris, the RAF physio/medic/holder of the magic sponge and bagman, got to run onto the pitch to treat a bad case of "I'm knackered" syndrome. With the medical condition of the RAF lads going downhill, the Reds, with their superior age advantage did just that...took advantage. Firstly with a header to reduce the arrears then a stunning shot to level the scores...3-3. The final 10 minutes were played at a pace just slightly higher than walking and despite about 15 chances each, neither side could find the winner and the game ended in a well-deserved draw. Both teams met up for the obligatory after match refreshments and this was, undoubtedly, a victory for the RAF (some things don't change) but all agreed, it was a great day.

RAF Squad: Scott, John, Phil, Daz Mc, Letchie, Mark, Hobie, Mick, Roy, Kenny, Karl, Lee, Steve, Daz K, Jon, Matty and Jim

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