AHEAD of tonight’s eagerly awaited clash with Italy, a large contingent from Leeds have already helped an England football side to one World Cup win.
And the likes of John Deacey and Mick Carter have also laid a major ghost to rest – by winning the Veteran’s World Cup on PENALTIES.
Bradford Park Avenue boss Deacey and Wakefield Wildcats chairman Carter are part of a 24-strong Harrogate Veterans side representing England that have just returned from Thailand as champions.
The team were also crowned World Champions back in 2009 and have now repeated the dose five years on by beating the old enemy Scotland in the final and on penalties to boot. And manager Paul Bell hopes his men’s triumph can act as inspiration or omen ahead of Roy Hodgson’s senior side’s curtain raiser against Italy in Brazil tonight. Hodgson’s men have been given little chance of conquering in Brazil with Paddy Power even offering odds of 100-1 that the Three Lions bring the Jules Rimet back home to blighty.
But Bell hopes that his men’s success will provide comfort that an England side CAN win on penalties should the Three Lions be presented with such a predicament in South America.
“They always say that England can’t win on penalties but we have shown you can,” laughed Bell. “Let’s hope it’s an omen or a sign. Winning this tournament back in 2009 with just local lads was unexpected and magical – however the bar has been raised several times since then in terms of the quality of teams participating and we have often fallen short.”
Harrogate Vets had several aces up their sleeves this time, not least Wycombe Wanderers player manager Gareth Ainsworth. Other well-known Leeds faces included Ian Simpson, Mark Brady, Jason Warren, Ian Myers and assistant manager Andy Newell. Simeon Bambrook had to pull out of he competition just days before the side’s departure with an injury. Without him, in Saturday’s final, England looked to have the cup won with goals from Jamie Clarke and Ainsworth only for Scotland to score a dramatic equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time. But England prevailed to win the ensuing penalty shoot out 5-3, one day after beating holders Iran in Friday’s semi-final. Scotland had caused an upset by beating hosts Thailand. Now Bell is hoping the England that really matters can follow suit this evening.
“To win this World Cup just days before our younger counterparts try to do the same in Brazil is fantastic,” said Bell.
“Of course nothing can compare with what those players will experience and we couldn’t be talking more extremes – but the same things apply – pride, attitude, desire and quality amongst your competitive set, the right tactics in the heat, and with a bit of luck, who knows? It could yet be a unique double!”
Winning Harrogate Vets team: Barry Richardson Graham Bootland Kevin Mooney Danny O’Shea, Mick Carter, Steve Charles, Gareth Ainsworth, Roy Hunter, Simon Baldry, Colin Hunter, Ian Simpson, David Nolan, Ian Myers, John Deacey, Mark Clifton, Mark Brady, Simeon Bambrook, Blair Nixon, Jamie Clarke, Dean Barrick, Simon Deakin, Steve King, Jason Warren, Steve Carling. Coaching team: Paul Bell, Andy Newall, Steve Bradbury, Paul Brown, Richard Douglas.