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RAFVets v Liverpool FC Vets 15 November 2014

Liverpool FC 1 – 5 Royal Air Force Vets at Liverpool

Report by WO Tony Reeves and Photos Cpl Charlie Booker (both well retired…)

When did this game really start, the planning had gone on for months, with a big thanks to Matt Beattie. He informed all RAF Veterans, via our social media page on Facebook, email and the infamous Dii sysytem, on the 22 September 2014, giving people almost 3 months planning time to pull this game off.

Lots of banter leading up to the event, some could turn out, others couldn’t, with many apologies. On Saturday 15 November, the day before the game, we thought we had a team as 12 names were penned to paper, only to realise Scott Taylor’s name was down twice. With 2 goalkeepers, 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 2 social members’ things were looking ominous.

So the best thing to do was to enjoy Liverpool, the City of Culture 2008 and hope and pray that the meet in the Marriot at 1100hrs on the day of the game would be more fruitful.

After a salubrious Saturday night of culture and fine dining, the 1100hour moment of truth arrived, why were there concerns nobody knows because the management now had 24 players to choose from, but alas only 1 social member, the other never to return.

Tactics were kept to a minimum, still time for refreshments before the game, consisting of Lucozade, tea or copious amounts of water, after all it was a warm and pleasant sunny autumn day in Liverpool and the liquid intake would prove to be essential.

The starting 11 took to the pitch looking very proud to be wearing the RAF shirts yet again and the opposition team in the ever distinctive red of Liverpool FC, certainly looked the part.

It was decided because of the number of players that everybody would play at least half a game, with some playing less and not through choice.

The game with an original 1400 kick off was brought forward because of a change in venue and no flood lights at the new venue, a cagey but hard fought start from both teams saw limited chances in the first 10 minutes, however with the constant pressure placed on the Liverpool defence, saw Russ Edwards steel the ball from the defender to then round the keeper and put the RAF up a goal to nil.

This settled the nerves of a number of RAF players, with some good passing football from both teams, which was good to watch from the sidelines. Chances although few saw both goal keepers put under pressure but good skills from the RAF goalkeeper Phil Harris assured the inevitable first half clean sheet but more importantly a further piece of proficient goal scoring ability saw Russ Edwards put the RAF 2 goals to nil up at half time. After seeing the RAF midfield work tirelessly with Geordie Salkeld, Matt Beattie and Colin Walsh working hard for little bard reward the wide outlets of Tony Macek and Rudi Rierre started to support the ever younger forward thinking Russ Edwards. The defence was never to be broken as the calm Daz Maclean kept a tight leash on the reborn again Scott Taylor and the ever present Lenny Brayshaw at left back and John Irvine at Right back.

There were a number of changes made throughout the first half particularly in midfield, however a very resolute defence of John Irvine right back, Lenny Brayshaw left back, Darren Mclean and Scotty Taylor centre backs, gave the platform for the guys in front of them to push forward and be 2 up at half time.

The second half restarted and the RAF Vets couldn’t have asked for a better start, a poor defensive clearance saw the ball land at John Letch’s right foot some 35 to 40 yards out of goal, and with the goal keeper off his line, John hit the ball first time and it floated over the defender’s head and the keepers outstretched hands into the top of the net. What a goal!!!!, Midfield now had rolled on and off and Stevie Pugh, Karl Milgate, Mick Clarke started to impact on the game.

The RAF continued to put pressure on a rather deflated Liverpool team and even though the rolling substitutions by the RAF, at times hindered their play, they had too much strength in depth and a further two goals followed, the first was an outstanding drive from the edge of the box by Steve Pugh and a similar strike from a similar position from Karl Millgate, the RAF Veterans now leading 5 goals to nil.

The substitutions continued, which caused a little confusion in the RAF defence, which allowed the Liverpool team to pull a goal back but it just proved to be a consolation goal.

Special mention must go to FS Steve Pugh for superb organisation and consolidation of the administration. Much and many bridges were built through Team Manaagers contact in Steve Hollis LFC Head of Academy for the future relationship between LFC and the RAF.

Players had travelled from far and wide, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, from Europe and from many places throughout the UK, North and South of the border, all in all it was a tremendous weekend in Liverpool but most importantly an incredible victory for the RAF Veterans.

Player Team Manager FS Matt Beattie, commented post match, “It has been a tremendous first get together this season, on the Saturday and Sunday, for all the players committing themselves to such a prestigious event. It never ceases to amaze me the commitment, passion, endeavour and pure determination our guys show on a meet like this and long may this continue as today was a fine result where we all should be justifiably proud and I am already looking forward to our next fixture up and coming fixture at West Ham.’

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