Gala FR stride into last eight of Walking Football Scottish Cup

Gala FR's strolling players.
Gala FR's strolling players.

Gala Fairydean Rovers reached the quarter-finals of the Walking Football Scottish Cup last Saturday at Glasgow Green.

Four of the team which won the recent Kelso Walking Football tournament were unavailable but Gala were able to send a squad of nine players to the competition.

An incredible 73 teams took part in this year’s festival, 32 in the Over 50s cup, eight in the Over 65s cup and the remainder in a non-competitive series of matches.

Prostate Cancer UK had a stall providing advice to players, while the Salvation Army handed out free water, fruit and biscuits.

It also entered a team in the festival, which included former Scotland international Jim McCalliog, who is best remembered for scoring the winning goal against England at Wembley in 1967.

The prestigious event, hailed as the largest walking football tournament in the world, was opened by Walking Football Scotland chairman Gary McLaughlin and SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatrick, who missed the Queen’s visit to the Scottish Parliament at attend.

Gala were drawn in a strong group comprising East Region League leaders Kirkcaldy, Stenhousemuir and newcomers Tranent Colts.

After losing the opening fixture 1-0 to Kirkcaldy, Gala discovered their form and won the next four games, beating Tranent 2-0, Stenhousemuir 1-0, Kirkcaldy 2-1 and Tranent 1-0 to secure qualification as group winners, before losing the final match 1-0 to Stenhousemuir.

Gala then met Group F runners-up Fort William in the last 16 and emerged victorious with a 1-0 victory to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Kilmarnock were the next opponents and, although both teams had chances to score, the hard-fought game ended goalless, with the Ayrshire side winning after a penalty shoot-out.

Raith Rovers won the Over 50s tournament and Kirkcaldy won the Over 65s trophy. Midlothian won the Fair Play award.

Former Scotland manager and WFS Ambassador Craig Brown was on hand to present the trophies.

Gala’s coach John Dickson said: “Considering the number of regular players who were missing, it was a tremendous performance from the team, and I am proud of every member of the squad. Every player gave their all and to win our group, which contained three particularly strong teams, was an achievement in itself, particularly when we had a stand-in goalkeeper for the day.

John added walking football had really taken off throughout the country and he thanked Lynne Marshall from Scottish Borders Council for her support in helping promote the sport in the region.

Chairman John Hislop added: “It was a fantastic day and it was great to meet many old friends and old rivals from other teams throughout the country. There were over 700 players at the tournament, including many women, but walking football is not just about competing in competitions. It’s about keeping fit, making friends and having fun. I would encourage everyone to give it a try. Just turn up at Netherdale between 2.30pm-4pm every Monday and Thursday and you will be welcomed.”