Bluebirds overcome Tekkerslovakia and Oldmen Pathetic in an eventful 5 a side competition
Saturday 12th July saw the 4th (and probably final) Huw Thatcher 5 a side football tournament, with 140 players taking part and raising over £800. These events have been a great tribute to Huw and also to the endeavours of his friends, and lots of other young people in Holmfirth. Read on to find out how the day unfolded and exactly who were ‘Oldmen Pathetic’?
The day started with 11 teams of 10- and 11-year olds taking part in a keenly contested morning session, which was so well attended that we needed to set up a pitch outside as well as using the sports hall. Thank you to the parents, teachers and of course pupils from Scholes, Hade Edge, Upperthong, Wooldale and Holmfirth (Nab) Junior schools. Congratulations to the top 3 sides which included teams from Upperthong, Scholes and Wooldale – and to Upperthong (Huw’s old school) who won the final.
Other highlights of the day included Max Harris and his team winning the years 10 and 11 competition – pictured in their specially purchased kit. Max was one of a group of young people who worked really hard to get the event on and to referee and organise things on the day. Others who I am very grateful to include Sam Hobson, Henry Greenwood, Joel Ezro, Will Bowers, Ed Clowes, Will Clowes, Joel Birkhead, Ben Bentley, Kieran Parker, Toby White, Cal McLaughlin and from the veterans section – Chris Churm. These guys all put in a great shift to make sure the day was a success and it was also great to see so many other familiar faces watching or taking part on the day. I apologise if I have forgotten anyone but I think that’s it.
The evening session included the 17- and 18-year olds with the addition of a guest vets team. The teams included the colourfully named: Tekkerslovakia, the Crucifiers, New Doss, and of course the Bluebirds. The veterans were represented by Oldmen Pathetic who actually performed very respectably in their group games. But not even the might of Tekkerslovakia and the guile of Oldmen Pathetic could stop the Bluebirds winning the competition for the third year out of four and for the second year in succession on penalties.
There were lots of evocative moments in the day – seeing Huw’s friends now all 18 years of age – having fun and playing hard (and in most cases fare)! I remember a lot of them as 6 year olds turning up to training with Huw 12 years ago and it even seems a long time ago we ran the first Huw Thatcher football tournament – with Sam Briggs coming up with the original idea. Huw’s friends have grown up in the last 3 and a bit years and that passage of time is also a signal of regret that Huw hasn’t been here to grow up with them like he should have been. Had Huw been there on Saturday however, just the same as when he was with us as a 15 year old – he would not have looked or seemed at all out of place. Apart from being a big and powerful lad, he had the ability to transcend age groups; he was comfortable with adults, and young children alike and would have fitted in perfectly at the event on Saturday. He was there in spirit as his friends turned up, some of them in Bluebirds strips to pay tribute to Huw – who had himself just started a Bluebirds Samba team as part of the year 10 competition back in 2011.
It was good to see the lads from Carys’s year there too along with a team from the year above Huw as well – it was a great turn out in the evening with 10 teams overall.
Other nice moments included these cakes arriving with HT icing and for me also seeing an 18 year old from Huw’s year who used to go to Upperthong Junior School with him during the evening session – I hadn’t seen her for 10 years but it was lovely to think back to those old times when they were 7 or 8.
There were moments of amusement during the day as well – none more so then when I was surprised to see that Ben had drawn a list of the scores on the sports hall white board with my bright blue permanent marker! I was equally surprised when Peter turned up an hour later with a pot of some kind of fluid solvent and successfully remedied the situation. Doing Chemistry A level has its advantages!
I think this is likely to be the last year we’ve run this tournament – not because it has become less of an event over the years – far from it in fact – but because many of Huw’s friends will be away at Uni next year and doing different things as they start to leave home. I’d rather the event go out on a high like this year, than do it again but with only a few of Huw’s friends able to make it.
So I’ll leave this blog about the final Huw Thatcher 5 a side tournament with these thoughts. I gave the winners of each age group a medal with ‘Remembering Huw Thatcher’ on them after the event. And a few other teams got medals too – about 40 medals were given out. As the young people look at those medals (and any other memory of these fantastic football tournaments) in future years, I’m sure they will take a moment to reflect. To reflect on the fun we had in these events – and then to reflect on the fine young centre back Huw Thatcher who couldn’t be here with us, but who graced the sports hall with class on so many occasions, who captained his school team for 4 years, and who was a stalwart of a successful Hepworth United first team for 10 years. Most importantly he graced us with his class, personality, friendship and company; those are the things I remember most from Huw and which I will remember most from these 4 fantastic football days since 2011 in Huw’s name.