Sunday 28th April saw three (yes, that’s right, three) teams from Birmingham in the finals of the FA People’s Cup at St Georges Park. The Blues and Whites who both qualified from the Peterborough Midland Region semi-finals and the Reds who qualified from the Southern semi-finals at Wimbledon. They joined Preston and Sheffield who came through the Northern semi-finals and Palace for Life who qualified as winners from Wimbledon to make up the final 6 teams in this, the very first time women’s walking football has appeared in the FA Peoples Cup.
The first round consisted of a round-robin with all teams playing each other to establish who would progress to the final four play-off games held on the internal Sir Alf Ramsey pitch and with the final broadcast live on the BBC Red button.
Blues first round games saw them finish undefeated with four wins and a draw, scoring a total of 9 goals and conceding only one. Whites fortunes were more mixed with two wins, two defeats and a draw scoring five and conceding three whilst Reds conceded six goals on the way to four defeats and a draw. This meant that Blues and Whites progressed to the semi-final play-offs along with Preston, who were also undefeated, and Sheffield.
The first game of the semi-finals saw Blues against Sheffield and it finished 1-0 to Blues, Alli scoring early with the Blues on top, Sheffield tried to get back on level terms late on but the game was managed out by the Blues to secure the first finalist spot. The second semi was a hard-fought encounter between Whites and Preston which finished 1-1 (Whites goalscorer: Skez). The game therefore went to penalties and even though Tracy saved the first Preston penalty and all of Whites’ efforts found the back of the net, two of their penalties were disallowed (for player taking more than one step on approach) so Preston advanced, winning the shoot-out 2-1.
The final brought Blues together with Preston and it was a very cagey affair with few clear-cut chances for either team. Half way through the game, Alli collected a pass from Kelly just inside the Preston half, beat one player and placed a right-foot shot just inside the Preston keeper’s left-hand post for the only goal of the game. Preston pressed for an equaliser but stout defending from the Birmingham team was enough to secure victory and become the club’s first ever Peoples Cup winners.
Blues: Caroline R, Lorraine R, Kelly O’D, Truly G, Alli W, Clare F, Zoe M
Whites: Dee R, Sue M, Sally B, Tracy D, Jayne K, Julie G, Karen Sh, (Alex M, Denny M)
Reds: Sue T, Karen Sm, Karen D, Kathy B, Jan T, Sonya C