Old local Lions retain World Title

By Leah Smith in Football

While England’s Under-20s football team were becoming World Champions for the first time in South Korea, England’s Golden Oldies were retaining their World title in Thailand, with a little help from Midsomer Norton’s own Steve Phillips.

The England Seniors’ team triumphed over Iran, 2–0, in the final of this year’s competition, having beaten Thailand in last year’s event. Steve Phillips, who has enjoyed a successful playing career at both Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, amongst other clubs, retained his place in this year’s senior side that also featured well-known former professionals, including; Jamie Cureton, Lee Trundell and Barry Hayles. As well as Steve Phillips, there was local interest in the team, with Louis Carey and Alex Russell, both of whom have played for Bath City.

The Seniors began the defence of their title with an 8–1 thrashing of a Thailand representative side, before being drawn in a Group that included the USA, Scotland and New Zealand. The Vets didn’t fair any better than the Pros against the Old Enemy, only managing a 2–2 draw against the Scots. However, a thumping 7–0 victory against the USA and a narrow 2–1 win against New Zealand, a game in which Steve Phillips took the Captain’s armband, saw the Old Lions top the Group.

England crushed Australia, 6–1, in the Semi-Final, booking a place in Saturday’s Final against Iran. The game, played in monsoon conditions in Phitsanulok, was a tight affair, which England controlled and ultimately triumphed 2–0.

This is the fourth time England have lifted the Seniors’ World Cup, since the competition started in 2006, following the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand. It was hoped the competition, featuring teams from around the world, would help rebuild tourism after the disaster, as well as providing additional football coaching for underprivileged children.

The England Seniors’ team is organised by the Harrogate Veterans and their Manager, Paul Bell, with the support of sponsors who make it possible for the team to travel to the Far East every year. If readers are interested in finding out how they can support the team with sponsorship, they can email Steve Phillips at: justkeepers@hotmail.co.uk

Ian Nockolds