Blackburn Rovers have won their first piece of walking football silverware, having being crowned champions of the Wigan Walkers Over 60s Tournament.
In a hard-fought tournament at Wigan Powerleague, ten clubs from as far away as Wakefield competed for the trophy, with Blackburn coming out on top in their first ever competitive tournament at over 60s level.
The win comes less than a year after the club played its first ever fixture in this growing form of the game, with the over 60s category sitting alongside an over 50s level, at which the majority of fixtures are played.
The six man squad was led by captain Tony Jones, with Frank Flynn, Barry Kirby, Duncan Evans, Lenny Latham and Jimmy Kelly completing the victorious line-up.
In the league section of the competition, Blackburn started with a close fought 1-0 victory over Wakefield with a goal by Barry Kirby, followed by a 0-0 draw with Manchester City. A win in the next game against Rochdale would have left them in pole position in the group but despite leading twice with goals from Kirby and Jimmy Kelly, they slipped to a 3-2 defeat.
Progression to the semi-final stage then rested on the result of the last game group against Wigan. A goal from Lenny Latham secured a 1-0 victory, protected by sterling defensive work from Frank Flynn and Duncan Evans. That win left the team in runners-up spot and looking forward to the winners of the other group, Curzon Ashton.
By now the team were working well together, knocking the ball around and playing some really good football backed up by tenacious defending and sound goalkeeping. An astute pass from Kelly at the end of a six man move set up Kirby to open the scoring - with his weaker left foot - and Jones added the second from the penalty spot in a 2-0 victory to set up another meeting with Rochdale in the final.
Having lost to 'Dale in the group stage, Rovers were out to show their true colours. Starting with Latham in goal, Flynn in the centre of defence, Kelly and Evans at wing backs, Jones in midfield and Kirby up front, the football flowed. The breakthrough came from lone striker Kirby and then the defence stood firm to protect the 1-0 lead. Skipper Jones then grabbed a second to put the team in command, and despite what proved to be a consolation goal for Rochdale, the cup was destined for Blackburn with a 2-1 victory.
Reacting to the success, captain Tony Jones revealed:
"The whole day was really well run by the Wigan organisers - the venue staff and hospitality, the facilities and the way the competition was administered. It all blended together to make for a great day out and we send our thanks to all those involved.
"The icing on the cake was bringing the trophy back to Ewood."
If you'd like to help claim further silverware for our increasingly successful walking football teams, don't miss your chance to get involved. Drop-in match practice sessions, part of the Sport England-funded 'Motivate!' programme, run every Friday evening from 5pm to 7pm at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre. Call 01254 508256 if you want to find out more about how to get into the action.