The Derby County Community Trust’s walking football programmes came together for a celebratory festival last weekend.The event coincidentally fell on the same weekend that the sport was founded in Derby.
Back on Saturday 14th May in 1932, Derby Railway Veterans and Crewe Railway Veterans took to the Baseball Ground for what is - as far as we know - the earliest recorded fixture of walking football.
At the time, the Derby Telegraph described the match by writing ‘Bald heads, white moustaches and red faces were the order of the day, while one man played in spectacles. The combined age of the Derby team was 741 and of Crewe 733’.
It finished 1-1 between the two sides with Steve Bloomer, Derby County’s all-time leading goalscorer, even playing his part on the day as referee at the age of 58.
Last weekend’s festival was a less competitive affair, providing an opportunity for the Derby County Community Trust to celebrate the growth of walking football in the area over the past 12 months.
Launched in May 2016, the Community Trust’s opportunities to play the slower version of the beautiful game have snowballed with over 1,000 people attending sessions since then.
Local teams including Risley, Ripley, Friesland Old Boys, Riverside, Alfretonians and two teams from the Community Trust took part in the festival at Springwood Leisure Centre.
Every team had the chance to play against each other and it gave the chance to network and test the standard against competition from across Derbyshire.
Lee Fearnley from the Derby County Community Trust said: “The festival was fantastic; we had over 80 guys turn up to take part in the games which provided a good opportunity to showcase what we do.
“It’s great to see walking football continue to grow. We’re now nationally recognised by the EFL having hosted their regional finals in April which shows just how far we’ve come in a short space of time.”
On the anniversary of the first-ever match in Derby he added: “We didn’t actually know when organising the festival, it was purely coincidental. It does however show that walking football has always had a place in Derby and we are happy to continue delivering on that tradition.”
Derby County Community Trust run weekly walking football sessions for both males and females over 50.
If you are interested in taking part, or want to find out more, please email [email protected].
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