Walking football? “It’s great – if only I could get a small oxygen tank on my back”

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Gerry Goss, club captain. PNL-151105-215133009
Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Gerry Goss, club captain. PNL-151105-215133009

It doesn’t matter how quick the game is. Players want to win.

There was a classic call of ‘Let’s up the pace!’ which made me smile but what also made me smile was watching players of all ages, from all walks of life, enjoying football – because they can.

Joining in, I realised walking football is certainly not a walk in the park. You’re constantly on the move because it takes more time to get anywhere.
There’s lots of lunging and quick-thinking, just to keep hold of the ball and a tackle is a mini-duel – a scramble for possession.

It all started with an advert on TV. Doesn’t it always?

Club chairman Matthew Doherty’s 17-year-old daughter Chelsea – named after the 1997 FA Cup winning side – saw a Barclays advert.

It shows a man asking for start-up cash to get his walking football club off the ground. And Chelsea thought her dad could do the same.

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Players, with added Bucks Herald reporter, Tom Burton, front, left. PNL-151105-215231009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Players, with added Bucks Herald reporter, Tom Burton, front, left. PNL-151105-215231009

“She said you might be interested in this dad,” said Mr Doherty, who works as a postman. “So I went on YouTube, looked at some videos and I said, ‘I like the look of that’.

“So I got hold of The FA and we set up our first game in October, although, I was panicking no one would turn up.”

Fourteen people saw the Facebook group and turned up. Now, just seven months later, Aylesbury United Walking Football Club has 30 members.

“People said your target audience don’t use Facebook,” Mr Doherty said. “But Gerry, our oldest member? His daughter-in-law messaged me on it. So we got hold of our oldest member through Facebook. It works a treat.”

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Matthew Doherty, chairman. PNL-151105-215044009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Matthew Doherty, chairman. PNL-151105-215044009

Gerry Goss, 79, hasn’t missed a session. He plays as a defender but also throws himself around in goal.

But it’s the perfect outlet after losing his wife in August.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said. “My wife passed away in August and this started in September. I didn’t know any of these guys and now they’re a great bunch of mates.”

The retired Tesco worker and warehouse manager said he feels the physical benefit – until he goes home and sits down that is.

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. National team with chairman, Matthew Doherty, front, centre. PNL-151105-215057009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. National team with chairman, Matthew Doherty, front, centre. PNL-151105-215057009

“It’s great,” he said. “If only I could get a small oxygen tank on my back.”

Mr Doherty is thrilled to see men and women of all ages and abilities enjoying the game he adores.

“This is my mission,” he said. “I love it so much. It’s a new lease of life.”

There’s always enough for a kick about on Monday evenings at Meadowcroft astroturf in Aylesbury, but if the team keep winning games in the national cup, they’ll be playing all over the country. They thrashed Milton Keynes 8-0 in the first round of a national competition on Monday night.

Visit www.facebook.com/WalkingFootballAylesbury to find out more.

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from the National team, in orange, against Milton Keynes. PNL-151105-215320009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from the National team, in orange, against Milton Keynes. PNL-151105-215320009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. PNL-151105-215354009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. PNL-151105-215354009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. Bucks Herald reporter, Tom Burton, in red, joins in. PNL-151105-215530009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. Bucks Herald reporter, Tom Burton, in red, joins in. PNL-151105-215530009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. PNL-151105-215602009

Aylesbury Utd FC Walking Football. Action from a game at Meadowcroft. PNL-151105-215602009