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11th Dec 21 - RAFVets O35’s v Wales FA O35’s - The Kev Walton Shield

I have been selected as the new Ghost Writer, now that James has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief, be assured that this has been checked 27 times by the Editor before I have been allowed to go to print.

I would just like to apologise for this report, I had to leave early and am relying on feedback from 4 or 5 of the backroom staff, so apologise if I have missed anything or anyone.

Saturday the 11th Dec saw the 2nd fixture of the double header with the young guns taking on their Welsh counterparts, with a little support from some of our older fringe players.

The Gaffer, whilst the “Oldies” were playing, got his boys together to start the preparation for the O35’s fixture. He also took the opportunity to welcome 2 new players (Greg McHale and Shaun Bryan, hopefully the spelling is good, as could not find names on FB, we also welcome Ben as our new Goalkeeping Coach). It was quite clear the message from the Gaffer, he wanted high, but sensible pressing, and once on the ball in the opposition half/final third to play with a high intensity. The biggest credit you can give is, the Welsh boys have been together for years, training and having a certain pattern of play. The Gaffer does not have this benefit and yet the message to the players was not only given, but clearly implemented.

Before the fixture was to commence we were honoured that we could introduce former RAFFA Chairman Air Cdre Keith Minton and Allan Hamilton to both squads.

The game started at a frantic pace, with the RAF boys not allowing the Welsh lads time to settle or get into any rhythm, a team that likes to play a passing game, where never given that time. It was quite clear early into the match, that no quarter was going to be asked, and none given, tackles flying in, hard and for the most part fair. The Gaffer commented that though we were very much on top the team had to work extremely hard to get the ball back from the opposition and then provide penetration with quality. The boys carried this out to the man, taking a 2-0 score line into half time.

HALF TIME RAF Vets O35’s 2 Wales O35’S 0

Matty gathered his group together and checked that no one was carrying injuries or had any niggles, making changes as required. He had a varied selection of youth and old on the bench to call upon, sending the boys out to carry out the same level of intensity and drive.

The 2nd half, if anything had increased in its intensity, though not only that, the tackles from both sides were now flying in, leading to the Ref going to his card early in the 2nd half and sending off our Skipper Scotty Taylor, soon to be followed by 2 of the Welsh boys. This not deter the boys and with Norton bagging a hat trick and Groves getting himself a brace, it looked like the defence had little to do. This was not the case with Rooners picking up a MoM award, for his never say die attitude and the mantle of you shall not pass us and you will certainly not breach our back line.

With Norton up front also picking up a MoM award, it was clear to see that the balance of attack and defence was being led by these 2 stalwarts of the O35’s. The Gaffer was more than happy with Greg and Shaun’s debuts, as RAF Vet Virgins, they did themselves proud and we have no doubt that they will be great acquisitions to the squad and RAF Vets Family.

To summarise from the Gaffer, what he was most happy with was the front foot approach, yes there was huge positives in the passing, pressing and willingness, when we lost the ball was the eagerness to retrieve possession, and then penetrate and ask questions of the Welsh backline.

FULL TIME RAF Vets O35’s 5 Wales O35’s 0

The presentations after the games was, as always a magnificent credit to our Welsh friends, presenting the Neil Davies Memorial Cup to our O50’s, followed by the Kev Walton Shield. Both Matt and Gilly thanked our host for their after match hospitality and are planning on making both games annual events in memory of these 2 amazing footballing legends

A massive thanks to Dave, Paul, Shane and Rogan, as always their hospitality is second to none, carrying on the huge friendship that has been built with the Wales Vets.

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