Release Date: 30/05/2012
The European Championships may be just around the corner but this weekend all roads lead to Newcastle for the veteran’s (Over 50’s) Home International football tournament, at Bear Park.
England, Scotland and Wales arrive by air and sea to wrest the trophy off inaugural winners Northern Ireland.
The Irish lifted the trophy last July, at Largs in Scotland, after a blanket finish with all four teams ending up on four points as each secured a win and a draw from their three games.
However, the Irish finished top of the pile courtesy of a superior goal difference.
Northern Ireland player boss Mark Hughes is looking forward to this year’s tournament and has prepared his team meticulously over the last few months.
“We are taking this tournament very seriously – we are the Home Internationals champions and we will not be giving up our trophy without a fight!”
“The Scots and English are bringing formidable squads packed with league experience, while the Welsh play regular veteran’s football, so they all have a clear advantage over us”
“With D day the 6 June not far off I will remind the boys of Churchill’s we will fight them on the beaches speech, before we go out to defend the title!”
England player manager Mike Burles expects his team to improve on last year when a final day win over Northern Ireland was not enough to lift the trophy.
“My lads cannot wait to get on the pitch. While we have a few injuries we will give a good account of ourselves”
“We felt we had a good squad last year but we have added to it for the visit to Newcastle”
“Steve Edkins is making the trip and he has league experience with Southend, Bournemouth, Colchester and Wimbledon, he also scored the winning goal against Northern Ireland last year”
“Also travelling is Peter Coffill who boasts over 700 English league appearances and claims that when he was at Watford ex-England boss Graham Taylor said he was the best player he ever had to let go – the story I heard was Watford fans felt it was best to let Peter go!” said the England manager
“Left back Harry Brooks was at West Ham while Russell Sparrey was at the Arsenal and now plays veterans football for Essex and Metropolitan police squads so we certainly feel we have the experience to put the shackles on the other teams!”
“We are not coming to make up the numbers and will be disappointed not to be in with a shout of lifting the trophy on Sunday”
It is going to be an action packed three days beginning on Friday night (2 June) and finishing on Sunday morning.
The English and Welsh are flying into Belfast while the Scots have elected to travel by ferry to Larne and down to Newcastle by bus.
Leaving nothing to chance the Scots are also bringing a team of masseurs to ensure the players get through the three games in three days.
Manager Jim Fleeting unfortunately cannot make the trip due to Scottish FA commitments so the team will be looked after by his assistants Jim Cockburn, Bob Martin and Martin Boyd.
“We have a really strong squad travelling to Newcastle” said Fleeting
“Jim Cockburn played for Kilmarnock in the SPL, while Ian McHarg played over 300 games for Queen of the South”
“However, it is up front that we expect to dominate with strikers Bobby Dickson formerly of Ayr United, Colin Harkness who played for Kilmarnock and Ray Stephen who scored goals for Dundee, Nancy and Kilmarnock”
“As you can see we have a big Killie connection and current Killie boss Kenny Shiels has been filling us in on the Northern Ireland as he has played against most of them”
“He said to watch out for Marty Tabb, Dessie Edgar, Raymond Campbell and Seamus Heath, but having seen Seamus play he could be giving us duff information!”
The Welsh are bringing a panel of 19 and three backroom staff.
Manager John Herniman is convinced they have the team to lift the title.
“After the way Swansea and Cardiff played this season we are convinced this is our year” said John
“We have some very good ex-league players such as Steve Dalton who is something of a free kick specialist”
“Strikers Paul Fisher and Jeff White will hopefully provide the goals while keeper Roy Poynor is an excellent shot stopper”
“We are looking for a good start this year having drawn with the English, in the opening game, last time and only managing a win in our final game” added John
“The boys are in good shape and we are hoping that our large panel will give us the edge to lift the cup”
The tournament kicks off on Friday evening with England facing Wales at 6.15pm.
Hosts Northern Ireland face Scotland at 7.45pm.
On Saturday England face the old enemy Scotland at 1.30pm while there is a clash of the Celts at 3pm when Northern Ireland entertain Wales.
On Sunday Wales play Scotland with a 10am kick off while Northern Ireland play England at 11.15pm.
The teams will all face each other once with games lasting thirty minutes each way.
Sunday’s matches have to kick off early as Wales have a mid afternoon flight back to Cardiff.
Kick off times may slip at little but by 12.45pm on Sunday the Home International tournament winner for 2012 should be known.
It promises to be a great weekend of football particularly if the weather holds.
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