Uxbridge Amblers have had another very successful year in 2017, both on and off the pitch, winning four tournaments during the year including our own, a number of successful social events, community projects and raising thousands of pounds for local charities. Thanks to Dave Ball for boosting the charitable donations this year.
The year started with a trip to Royal Wootton Bassett with two teams for some friendly matches against two Wiltshire teams, with Colin Dennison grabbing a hat-trick. Also in January, we once again welcomed the Mayor and Mayoress of Hillingdon to the Amblerdome to celebrate our fundraising achievements for the Hillingdon Brain Tumour Group, DASH and Harlington Hospice. We were also fortunate to have Andy Sinton, formerly of QPR and England, attending the evening. At the end of January three Amblers’ teams took on Aylesbury, Barnet and Cove in a monthly 4-counties series of friendly 6-a-side matches.
At the start of February a visit to the Hive to play Barnet in what turned into a bad tempered encounter and then a home game for the over 60s against Wealdstone which was much friendlier. At the end of February Mick Harvey put on the first Quiz Night of the year in aid of our nominated charities. February was the launch of the Walking Football Association, a rival to the FA and something that Uxbridge Amblers is not recognising as we continue to work with the Middlesex FA to develop and promote the game.
Early March and two Amblers teams visited Cove for the next instalment of the 4-counties 6-a-side friendlies. Mid-March we played host to Leyton Orient in a number of 7-a-side matches. At the end of March entertainment was provided at the Swing and Soul Night.
April was a busy month, starting with a charity Race Night and a trip to the Hub at the Emirates to play Arsenal and finishing with another 4-counties friendly against Staines, Feltham, Barnet and Old Salvatorians and the start of walking Futsal sessions at Uxbridge College.
Into May and the Amblers enter the first two tournaments of the year. The Woking 6-a-side where we played Woking Wanderers, Walton 1, Eastleigh, Worthing Strikers and Caterham to progress to the semi-final against AFC Wimbledon and victory in the final against Winston Old Boys (4-3 on penalties) to retain to Woking Trophy. That was followed by entry in the David Bambridge Memorial Cup at Margate where we played Chelmsford, Margate A, Bay City Strollers A, Eastbourne, Kent Fire & Rescue (under 50s) and then beat Kings Hill in the semi-final and beat Leyton Orient in a penalty shootout (4-3) to win the Cup. The season long Predictor League came to a close, with Louis Ferraggi winning the league and Tommy Ball the cup winner.
June was a quiet month competitively on the pitch, although Friday club nights continued. The curry night took place at the Darjeeling in Ickenham and was well attended, as always.
In July we hosted a Friendly Football Festival 7s with Hereford Scrumpy Boys, Old Salvatorians and Old Meadonians in attendance. The second Quiz Night of the year raised more funds for our charities before we spent a weekend in Bideford at the Dartington Crystal Cup 6s. Two teams entered playing Woolacombe, Illfracombe Town, Exminster, Retro Rangers and two Bideford teams. Although we were not successful on the pitch, everyone had a great weekend with our friends from the West Country.
The August social event was Middlesex v Gloucestershire in a 20/20 cricket match at Uxbridge. We then entered and won the Leyton Orient 6s Tournament, playing Stevenson’s Rockets, Fulham B, Leyton Orient Reds, Trust and Blues and Fulham A, winning all of our matches.
The start of September saw Dave Ball complete a fantastic bike ride from London to Paris raising £2,600 for the Hillingdon Brain Tumour Group. An excellent effort, well done Bally! Mid-September and it was the annual Beano time again, this year we went back to Brighton where Dave Gentry and Chris Tiretis participated in some exercise with the ladies from ((BOUNCE)), a visit to the pier and some long uphill hikes to Fullers’ Prestonville pub, before heading back to the coach home.
We had some desperately sad news in September with the death of Amblers founder member Frank Nicholson. Frank was a true Ambler at heart and supported the club in many ways. His funeral in October at Breakspear Crematorium and Uxbridge Cricket Club was a very colourful send off for Frank. He will be greatly missed by us all.
October, and the Amblers hosted our tournament with three teams up against Watford Yellows and Whites, Leyton Orient, Wiltshire, Old Salvatorians, Staines, Feltham, Hereford, Barnet RIP. A minute’s silence for Frank was greatly respected by all who were there. Amblers Blue beat Wiltshire in the semi-final and Watford Whites in the final, on an innovative corner rule, to win the Graham Barnes Trophy. Towards the end of October, several of the Foxes attended the PlayFootball Walking Football Press Release which appeared on the BBC and ITV with Mick Geraghty, Jim Rankin and Dave Richardson being interviewed.
In November, we held another Curry Night at the Darjeeling and another successful Quiz Night. There was victory in an over 60s friendly against Old Salvatorians. On the community front, Uxbridge Amblers launched the Silver Foxes Memories which aims to help local residents suffering with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
As we pass through December we can look back on a successful year in 2017, but sadly remembering our dear friend Frank, and look forward to 2018 and the continued growth of our club with more over 60s matches and tournaments. The Amblers will be introducing a new Wednesday morning session at the Amblerdome for those no longer in full time employment. Let’s hope it is as well attended as the Friday night sessions.
Into 2018, and the Amblers will continue to be a leading stakeholder in promoting Walking Football with the FA and the Middlesex FA, including the training of referees and increase of over 60s football. We will also be looking to join a regular monthly Sunday league, perhaps at Bisham Abbey.
Drawing to a close, a huge thank you should go to club chairman and quiz master Mick Harvey, to Mick Geraghty for all football and training matters, John Handell for looking after the admin, finance and merchandise and Peter Dean for keeping (most of) us fit. Also, thank you to Ann and Uxbridge Sports Club for their facilities and most of all, thank you to all the Silver Foxes for your attendance and efforts at matches, tournaments and Friday club nights and social events and for making our club the BEST walking football club in the country.
Well done all, I wish you a Happy Christmas, and remember…..NO RUNNING!