WHEN the Welsh over 60s football team recently drew 3-all with their counterparts from England at Penydarren Park in Merthyr there were three Pembrokeshire representatives in the Welsh squad.
Bob Nelson, Micky Algieri and Gerald Hicks travelled up to Merthyr together and have been dubbed ‘The Three Amigos’ by the rest of the squad, the majority of whom hail from Cardiff, Newport and Merthyr.
Bob came on a substitute full back after only 20 minutes and played well for the rest of the match, Gerald was his usual forceful self in the centre of midfield whilst Micky’s pace up front not only set up two of the Welsh goals but also earned him the ‘Man of the Match’ accolade.
Micky’s inch-perfect cross allowed Tony Jones to slam in Wales’ first goal from close range and after Sasha Young had added a second from a good build up it was another piece of Algieri skill that enabled Chris Blake to push Wales into a 3-0 lead after 32 minutes, which they held until the oranges.
Welsh team manager Dave Drew (Merthyr) warned his team of complacency since he knew England had a very strong team and his concerns were proved correct as England gradually adapted to the new 3G pitch at Penydarren Park and put on more and more pressure on Welsh keeper Jeff Jenkins and the home defence, in which skipper Phil Williams battled hard.
England scored three goals to haul themselves level and it was generally agreed that a draw was a fair result on the balance of play over 90 minutes and it was reward for the commitment of a Welsh squad that has to travel for monthly training sessions at the City of Cardiff Indoor Training Centre.
It was Bob’s fifth appearance in a Welsh shirt and both he and Micky (who has played four times) have qualified to receive their coveted Welsh caps at the end of the season, now that they have played for three years. It was Gerald’s third game for Wales at this level, having played for the Welsh amateur team over 40 years ago – and there is no doubt that he will also qualify for an over 60s cap next season.
Bob has also recently enjoyed another wonderful experience as he played at St George’s Park in Burton on Trent (dubbed the ‘Indoor Wembley’ because it is at the heart of the English Football set-up at all levels, right up to the senior side.) He was part of an England versus Wales international match where each squad included five over 60s, five over 55s and five over 50s. Wales were 2-1 adrift at half time but rallied to win 4-3 in a cracking match that was refereed by renowned World Cup official Howard Webb.
There are plans afoot to take on Scotland over 60s later on in the campaign and eventually to hold a Home Countries Championships – and it is a fair bet that in both events our ‘Three Amigos’ will fly the Pembrokeshire Footballing flag with continued distinction!