Silverware for England's Men's 40s
This year was the culmination of 4 years of effort by the Men’s 40s squad.
Four years ago the first 40s squad started on the road, but lost heavily to all the teams at the 2009 Home Nations. The next two years, the England Men’s 40s team showed more promise but still didn't deliver. Nevertheless, the fruits of all that effort came this year. The lesson learnt was that - success is not built in a day. Hard grind, teamwork, practising and persistence got them there.
The pool of seven was toughly contested, with Wales, the highest placed European team at the 2011 Touch World Cup, coming second from bottom after the pool rounds. Many of the teams faced had recent recruits from the "young-uns" (the over 35 squads) but not England, in true 40s style, virtually every game they played was an audience pleasing cliff hanger.
After a difficult start in the pool round, drawing their 1st game to Italy and losing their 2nd to Ireland, the lads had lots of work to do to make it to the top spot. Day 2 wasn’t much better, drawing against the Welsh team 5 each. By day 3, they started turning it around, with 2 good wins against France and Luxembourg, securing them a top 4 place going in the knockout rounds.
Meeting the Irish team in the semi finals, the team they lost against in the TWC playoff and that they drew with in the earlier rounds and who topped the group stages, the M40s team had to dig deep to make sure of silverware.
They had made it to the final
Being drawn against a strong Spanish side, a team they drew 4-4 against the previous day. The valiant Men’s 40s team won a silver medal, losing 7-4, but savouring the sweet taste of recovering from a poor start and beating the top two teams in the pool stages (Ireland and France) on their way to the final.
All in all, it was a fantastic effort, ably led by player/coach and captain Jeff Bimson, a huge thanks goes also to the teams manager Kirsty, assistant coach Steve and physio’s Dave and Peter. The team is also very grateful to those who helped get them to the finals, all the previous squad members and last year's coach Stan Barkhuysen. Most of all, they dedicate their success this year to the memory of their first coach and leading player, Simon Yarrow, who died last year. It was a tough, moving and important moment for all as a minute's silence was held for Simon before one of the games. Simon’s commitment and joy gained from playing this wonderful game of touch, will be a precious memory to all, and the crew were sorry that not to be able to share it with him this year.
The squad had a great tournament and are confident that they can go one better in future years and come away with gold!
Congratulations to top scorer for England, Piers Mitchell with 6 and MVP’s Jeff Bimson and Ian Moody.