Driving up to St. Georges Park to participate in Cure Leukaemia’s annual Copa del CL Football tournament, the nerves starting kicking in (calmed by a cheeky breakfast Baileys coffee). The prospect of playing against ex-professional football players including Matt Le Tissier, Kevin Phillips, Ian Taylor, Lee Hendrie and Francis Benali was daunting and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but let’s face it, we were there for the fun, not the competition.
Our manager for the day, ex-England and Crystal Palace legend Geoff Thomas, was fully prepared for a day of tough tackles and dramatic diving, giving the team a truly inspirational team talk before the first match kicked off.
The only team in the competition to include two female players, Shari ‘Valderrama’ Bryan and Claire ‘Razor‘ Fisher took no prisoners in midfield, accompanying each touch of the ball with a feminist battle cry. Our star player Josh, along with Dave ‘Zlatan’ Potts and Mark ‘Ginola’ Norman, scored a goal each, and the celebrations from the OWB cheerleaders could be heard all the way back in Birmingham.
At the other end, Andrew ‘Grobbelaar’ Wilkinson managed to save many of the shots peppered at his goal, even if he did do a fantastic job of setting up the opposition’s striker more times than he saved them. The frustrated cries of “ON YOUR FEET” from Geoff Thomas were a highlight of the day – clearly he wasn’t quite used to Wilko’s unusual style of goalkeeping from the floor.
The organising company team were also astounded by Shari’s ‘alternative’ throw-in method – bowling the ball in underarm should be the new standard practice if you ask us!
Team OWB didn’t quite progress to the knockout stage, with four losses out of four… But they did manage an early start at the bar and helped raise vital funds for a such an incredible charity.
With 28 teams involved this year raising a total of £24K for Cure Leukaemia, the date has already been set for Friday 16th of October. So if you fancy a challenge and your team can cut it with the professionals on the pitch – or at the bar – then check out their details here.