Uxbridge Amblers have continued to be one of the best walking football clubs in the country during 2018, both on and off the pitch. A very busy year which included successful tournaments, regular matches, monthly social events, community projects and thousands of pounds raised for local charities. Thanks to all members for their support and hard work throughout this year.
January, and the year started with the normal Friday club nights being joined by a new Wednesday morning session which was well attended and continues to be so for those Foxes able to attend. Thanks to Mick Harvey and the other volunteers for their help running these sessions. Towards the end of January we hosted Hemel Hempstead at the Ambledome for a series of friendly matches in snowy conditions. We were proud to announce a new shirt sponsorship deal with Play Football who supplied us with two new sets of shirts.
February saw Ambler founder member Ray Crook hang up his boots as he moved down to the south coast, although he would still return for the occasional tournament and guest appearances in the Thames Valley League. We wish him well for the future. The first Quiz Night of 2018 took place at the end of February with Teama Aguillera coming out top of 14 teams, the evening raising £500 for Harlington Hospice.
Into March and Leyton Orient paid a visit to the Ambledome to play two Amblers teams of over 60s. Our Social event for the month was the very popular Swing & Soul Night in which we raised £500 for the Hillingdon Brain Tumour Group. The following day was the first round of matches in the Thames Valley Spring League at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, where we had entered two teams.
April, and the two Amblers teams contest the second round of matches at Bisham Abbey. On St George’s Day, over 30 Amblers and guests visited the Battle of Britain Bunker and new Visitor Centre in Uxbridge. The return of Walking Futsal at Uxbridge College was enjoyed by those that attended.
May was a busy footballing month. It started with the Amblers retaining the Woking Cup (a fourth successive win in that competition) and Semi Finalists in the London Cup at Shepherd’s Bush, and continued with the third round of matches in the Thames Valley League at Bisham Abbey. Off the field, we were entertained by the ‘Beatles’ at Hayes Working Men’s Club.
In June, at the final round of matches at Bisham Abbey, the Amblers secure the title in the Thames Valley Walking Football Spring League. A great achievement as it was played over four months and 20 matches.
July and two teams entered the Thames Valley League Cup at Bisham Abbey. The annual Boules Roll Up at the Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Centre, attended by 14 Amblers and their guests, was won by Mick Harvey, John Handell and Jim Prior.
The August social event was a 60s & 70s disco, hosted brilliantly by Malcolm Smith in aid of Dreamflight (£650 raised to help send less fortunate children to Orlando), with Robbo winning ‘Shirt of the Night’. The Autumn League at Bisham Abbey gets underway. At the end of August, after a month in the Athletics Stadium, we returned to the newly laid pitch at the Ambledome.
September was the second round of games at Bisham Abbey followed by the Middlesex Festival for over 60s at Rectory Park. On the 22nd we celebrated our 4th Birthday with a buffet and cake at the Cricket Club after the Friday club session. At the end of September, 40 Amblers and their guests had a great day down in Portsmouth at the annual Amblers’ Beano.
October was another busy month for the Amblers. Unfortunately, one of our saddest months to date with the loss of two Gentlemen Amblers: Tony Rispoli and Amblers founder member Chris Tiretis both passed on after long battles with Cancer. Tony was a true club friend who would always be seen at club matches and events, despite recent ill health. Chris was an original Ambler who supported the club in every way possible. Both will be sorely missed. On a lighter note in October, twelve Amblers had a fun evening at the Beck Theatre listening to the endless stories of Danny Baker. We organised a Dribblethon, a 26-mile walking football marathon, completed in 5 hours 48 minutes (well done Dave Gentry for his efforts throughout) supported by the Mayor and Mayoress of Hillingdon. We had hoped to get an entry into the Guinness Book of Records. This event raised over £1,000 in aid of sending 50+ dementia sufferers and their carers to a Christmas Memories show at the Beck Theatre. We were proud to be awarded a National Award for Grassroots Football by KitLocker and a voucher for £400 worth of equipment, awarded to the club for getting the over 50s back into the beautiful game and for our community and charity achievements. We continued our Thames Valley League matches at Bisham Abbey.
November was the final round of the Autumn league at Bisham Abbey and both teams secured runners up position in their respective leagues, a great achievement by all players and especially our two Players’ of the Year, Colin Dennison and Jim Rankin.
The November Quiz Night was the monthly social event, and this time raised money for ourselves, rather than one of our partner charities.At the start of December, we played in the newly re-named Uxbridge Amblers Memorial Trophy. In memory of the five Amblers we have lost in our first four years. This was a series of games at different age levels against our friends from Cove, who took the trophy home with them. The Amblers also organised a Dementia Friends Christmas Lunch for over 50 sufferers and their carers.
Another visit by the Mayor to accept a large donation to the Peter Pan and Wendy Children’s Ward at Hillingdon Hospital on behalf of Tony Rispoli’s family and to present certificates to our qualified First Aiders. So to tonight and our annual Christmas Disco Party, we look back on another successful year in 2018 on the pitch winning the Woking Cup (for the fourth time) and regular successful football in the Thames Valley League, off the pitch with numerous social events and raising almost £3,000 for charity.
Sadly, we must remember absent friends Tony and Chris, both of whom would have loved to be here tonight along with their families.
Looking forward to 2019, we aim to continue with our footballing success and develop further community relations and charitable events.
We will be hosting the Western Group of the Middlesex Walking Football League throughout 2019.
The Amblers will be at the forefront of advising the FA on the rules of walking football and promoting the 3-touch rule (now a big part of our training sessions, which we take into competitive matches successfully).
A big thank you to club chairman and quiz master Mick Harvey, to Mick Geraghty for all football, training and community matters, John Handell for looking after the club funds and club shop and to Peter Dean for fitness advice. Another big thank you to Dave Ball for the keeping the web site up to date and to Malcolm Smith for the music and sounds. Also, thank you to Ann and her team and Uxbridge Sports Club for the use of their facilities. Last, but not least, thank you to all the Silver Foxes for your support at matches, tournaments, Wednesday and Friday club sessions and the many social and charity events and for making Uxbridge Amblers the great club that it has become.
You are all a credit to the club and have represented us with distinction.
Well done all, I wish you a Happy Christmas, and remember….. NO RUNNING!!!