From Abbeymead Rovers to England Head Coach: Stuart Langworthy talks to Severn Sport

This past weekend must have felt like the perfect weekend for Abbeymead Rovers Chairman Stuart Langworthy. Rovers were beating high flying Bredon 3-2 in Division Two of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, but for Langworthy his attentions were firmly on St George’s Park and the home of English football. 

That is because Langworthy is the England Over 60’s Walking Football side’s Head Coach. On Saturday his side faced a double header against their Welsh counterparts. Two fixtures against their rivals ended with two wins for England, as Langworthy’s men took the bragging rights once again.

In the first game, between the two Shadow Squads, goals from Tony Jones and a Ryan Gladwell double, including an absolute stunner, were enough to see England come from behind to win 3-1.

Then, in the main game, both sides went goal crazy in an 8 goal thriller. Alan Davies opening goal was added to by Graham Curry’s first goal for England and Peter Stacey to give England a commanding 3-0 goal lead.

After having their lead cut just before the break, England scored twice more as Davies scored his second and third to complete a memorable hattrick. Two late goals from Wales made Langworthy’s men sweat in the end, but they held on to take the spoils.

Earlier this week we spoke to Langworthy about similarities between England and Abbeymead Rovers’ Walking Football sides and how exciting Walking Football can be.

“Well at Abbeymead we have pay and play sessions, which sees us have anything from 12-30 players per session and we get our facility for an hour or so. 

Like most clubs, we use our time to get match practice in – which can limit the amount of coaching. In the matches I tend to be playing so having to try and manage the team at the same time is not always easy. Obviously we also have a much smaller player base to choose from.”

“But it is the same with England. The players just enjoy playing Walking Football – the team spirit and banter at both levels is fantastic and the players are just as enthusiastic and proud to be able to play the game ad represent club or country at their age.” Langworthy added.

“At international level we try to ensure that the players feel like they are international players – which isn’t always easy with a limited budget. I believe that every player involved in the England set up is a role model and they should conduct themselves as such.”

Langworthy with his coaching staff overseeing training

So why should you play Walking Football? All you need to do is ask Langworthy and he is more than delighted to tell you all you need to know.

“The majority of people play the game for fun and many don’t actually want to play competitive matches. But we have established a regional set-up to help more players play at a higher standard if they want to and are able to do so. 

Players should get their club to nominate them for a regional trial – if they are good enough they will be selected for their region, which is naturally a stepping stone to the national stage. 

It is important to say though, Walking Football is all about opinion as they are players that have attended trials that believes they should have been selected and have been honest enough to tell me so. 

But we had a duty to run open and honest trials for England and we have made decisions based on the opinions of all those trusted to select the best team and we, of course, will be judged based on these decisions. Thankfully it is so far so good.”

We couldn’t speak to Langworthy without talking Abbeymead Rovers, especially when they are on a winning run that has seen them move into the top half of Division Two of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League.

“It’s great to see all three senior teams at Abbeymead doing well – we are now in a healthy position this year which makes a change. One of my greatest achievements was keeping the first team in the GNSL a couple of years ago. Somehow, we won our last 4 games and stay up against all odds. 

This year we are looking pretty safe in mid table. It is important for the club to have a team at the highest level possible in order for our huge youth set-up to have teams at the right level to progress – especially if we want to keep our better players that we need to ensure our senior team is at a high level.”

“It is also great to see our ladies side who are having a great season. They are unbeaten in 11 with 10 wins and a draw, so they are likely to finish 2nd or 3rd in a top County League. It’s a great time right now.” Langworthy added.

 

If you are interested in getting involved with Walking Football, go to the WFA’s website or your local FA’s. Or visit WalkingFootball.Com and go to the ‘Find A Club’ page. Any player over the age of 50 can take part in tournaments but players under 50 can join in on designated club nights.