March 26, 2022 7.00 am

Lincolnshire over 70s veterans football team beat England 9-2

It was their first ever match

Grimsby tiro Tony Drinkell, John Daly and Roy Gladwell all scored hat-tricks as Lincolnshire’s over 70s veterans football team celebrated their first ever fixture with a 9-2 victory over England.

The veterans’ club, which includes over 50s, 60s and 70s, was set up in 2021 with the first game played by any of the sides being the over 60s against England in October last year, which Lincolnshire won 4-1 at home.

On Thursday, March 24, 2022, the over 70s team took to the field for their first ever match on the 3G pitch at The Meres Leisure Centre, home of Grantham Town Football Club.

Their opponents, England’s over 70s team, had players from as far apart as Kent to the Wirral and play vets football regularly, so it was always going to be a good test for the Lincolnshire side.

The match started very evenly with both teams taking a while to settle. The knowledge and skill of the lads who played at a higher level really showed, with Sleaford Town’s Terry Smith described as a “little dynamo”.

Before kick-off of the match, with officials provided by Grantham Town Football Club’s Academy. | Photo: Stephen Morgon

The Yellowbellies began to grow into the game and didn’t have wait too long for the first goal as Gladwell bagged the first of his three from 25 yards out.

Drinkell netted two, including a left-footed volley, and Daly showed his recent recovery from throat cancer hasn’t stopped him from being a big engine in the midfield.

Daly completed his hat-trick to give the Lincolnshire side a commanding 6-0 lead at half-time. The pick of his goals was his second as he smashed in a volley from a great cross by Gladwell.

Drinkell and Gladwell both completed their hat-tricks in the second half to complete a resounding victory.

Captain John Malloy played a big role in the victory for Lincolnshire Vets over 70s. | Photo: Stephen Morgon

It wasn’t just about the goals as great team work shone through and captain John Molloy played a big role in the win for Lincolnshire, as did their oldest veteran – 79-year-old Brian Keates, who plays walking football for Boston United.

Midfielder Trevor Lee was great at winning the ball for Lincolnshire and distributing it with great precision and accuracy.

The defence also played as a unit, catching the visitors offside time after time. Goalkeeper John Sykes, who also plays as for England’s walking football team, was excellent in the first half as was his team-mate Carl Reeve who replaced him in the second half.

The England over 70s team. | Photo: Stephen Morgon

Stephen Morgon, club secretary for the Lincolnshire team, told The Lincolnite: “First and foremost, it was heartwarming how much interest there was in the game.

“We want to try and have a cradle to grave opportunity within Lincolnshire that children start from under 10 then end up playing vets football.

“We did fantastically well. It wasn’t so much about the goals, we also played good football and retained the ball well, and when we lost it, we quickly got it back.

“The greatest compliment came from the linesman, who plays for Grantham Town’s Under-19s Academy. He said he could not believe the energy, skill and goals from Lincolnshire.

“I hope it will inspire him and his team-mates to keep themselves in shape and enjoy the plus 60 years of football they will have in front of them.

“A big thank you to Grantham Town FC for hosting and for providing the young lads to help, for the medical facilities and staff for the pie and chips after.”

The management team of Paul Beard and Peter McCafferty. | Photo: Stephen Morgon

Since the vets team launched last year (for anyone aged over 35) the over 60s have had two games – their 4-1 win at home against England and a narrow 2-1 away defeat. The over 50s also won at home against England 3-1, but lost 5-2 away.

And five Lincolnshire players have since received call-ups for England – John Daly, Tony Drinkell and Roy Gladwell, John Sykes, and Steve Slater.

The teams relaxed after the match inside Grantham Town Football Club’s facilities. | Photo: Stephen Morgon

The over 60s have a game at home against Cambridgeshire on May 22, while the over 70s are hoping to arrange their second ever fixture later this year.

Grantham Town FC have now offered to host all Lincolnshire vets football.