UK Pilots’ Football Triumph: Kevin Walsh


This year the Empa football tournament was held in Bremerhaven on the 25th of May in glorious sunshine. The UK once again entered a team. We had 15 players of whom only two had not played before.

Our participation was almost over before we even left, because team captain Kevin Walsh had a ship the night before which was caught in dense fog, meaning he was stuck on board for 16 hours and missed his flight. A further three players also missed the flight because of a serious accident which closed the M62. After numerous phone calls to Simon Wood, our manager, it was decided the missing players would take a night flight, meaning they did not get to the hotel until 01.30, but hey it’s the European Cup.

There were 12 teams split into four groups which, after the first group stage, resulted in four different groups. The two teams with the most points advanced to the final. All games were 30 minutes long.

Our first game was against everybody’s favourites Rotterdam and we managed a 4—0 victory, next Belgium 3—0, then Vlissingen, who were really up for a fight, 3—0 to us, and finally Keil 3—1. So we marched into the final undefeated with 13 goals for and 1 against, but we knew we had a tough task
as Norway were our opponents.Players were dropping like flies due to injuries, tiredness and cramp, but we knew that because we had a big squad we had a great chance to win for the first time.

So to the final, and as you can imagine, it was really tense: this is serious stuff! We dominated the match, creating chances, whilst the Norwegians seemed happy to sit back and catch us on the break.

Now in the second half the clock was ticking, and I knew, like everybody reading this, the last thing we needed was a penalty shoot out. Again, chances were made, but finally in the last couple of minutes Dave Collins broke down the wing and crossed Franny Barrett on the edge of the box (I thought I heard Kenneth Wolstenhome shout, ‘There’s some people on the pitch. They think its all over. IT IS NOW!’). There was a boom from the edge of the box as Franny smashed the ball into the net and you could hear the roar and also respect from the crowd. We closed out the remaining time to bring the Cup home to the UK.

The presentation was in the evening and it was fantastic. The hosts Weser Ems were magnificent and it has to be said all the teams were very gracious towards us, and as always a lot of friends were made amongst the hundreds we have already made in the last eight years.

The next tournament is in Marseille on the 11th of May. Some of us are getting on a bit now, so if there are any fresh legs out there to help retain our title please step forward, for even if you just want to come and enjoy the occasion and not play you are welcome. Trust me you will love every minute of it.

The team: Manager S Wood, Captain K Walsh; L Welsh, I Baird, A Baird, J Baird, F Barrett, T Mcdonaugh, M Greenslade, B Greenslade, A Devey, D Collins, Z Joachim, P Flanagan, I Gram, and D Devey.

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