ARGYLE Community Trust’s walking football team secured a superb Devon double on Thursday night, winning the Devon County Cup with a 1-0 win over rivals Exminster St Martins.
It is the second time they have beaten Exminster to silverware this season, having already won the Devon County Helpline Division title by 16 points earlier in the campaign.
“It’s a great achievement by a great group of lads who have been together for four of five seasons,” said Trevor Richards, who, as well as being known to members of the Green Army in his role as Head of Stadium and Facilities at Home Park, is a key player in the title-winning team.
“It’s been a very successful season after some disappointment of the last few years. We won the A League, with a weekend to spare.”
Argyle’s walking football team has only existed for a few years, but they have already gone on to achieve success at national level. In 2015, having only been formed for a couple of months, they became national champions at the FA’s national football centre in Burton. Trevor is one of three remaining squad members to have also played that day.
“In 2015, I had an email on the first of April, asking if I’d be interested in playing walking football. Of course, on that date, I thought it was a classic April Fool,” recalls Trevor.
“We started off in the May, with a competition where all 72 league teams took part. We qualified as runners-up from the South West region and went to St George’s Park, where we became national champions.”
As well as winning that national tournament, Trevor and his team-mates have also gone toe-to-toe with members of the first-team set-up at Home Park, including former coaching trio of Derek Adams, Paul Wotton and Craig Brewster. According to Trevor, they were surprised by the unique challenge of playing the game at walking pace.
“Anyone that’s played it will tell you it’s harder than it looks,” said Trevor. “We played it against Derek Adams, Craig Brewster and Paul Wotton – and they said, for the first ten minutes, and for a couple of days afterwards, how hard it was, because you’re using different muscles.
“It changes a lot, because you can’t knock the ball into space – you can’t chase it. You have to knock it into feet. That becomes difficult, because you have to be precise.”
The double Devon champions are now setting their sights further afield, entering into a regional competition that takes place on Sunday, June 2. While further silverware would be a welcome bonus, Trevor insists it is mainly about enjoyment.
“I’m still playing football, I’m 59 this year, and still loving it. We’ve got players who are 60, 70, playing regularly at the new Manadon Sports Hub on a Monday night.
“It’s great camaraderie, everyone loves each other and there’s a great spirit.”
For more information on Argyle Community Trust’s walking football programme, click here.