21/12/2015: Margate Tournament

Date: Monday 21st December 2015

Venue: Margate Football Ground, aka “The Cages”


The Great Escape


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“When the going gets tough the tough walk faster.” Lawrence Hall-Daniels





·        Steve McQueen as Captain Peter Cadogan, the “Cooler King”

·        James Garner as Flight Lieutenant James Dobson, the “Scrounger”

·        Richard Attenborough as Squadron Leader Chris Le Corney, “Big X”

·        James Donald as Group Capt. Kevin Joyce, the Senior British Officer (SBO)

·        Charles Bronson as Flight Lieutenant Robert Lynn, “Tunnel King”

·        Donald Pleasence as Flight Lieutenant Mark Bunyard, the “Forger”

·        James Coburn as Flight Officer Will Jarman, the “Manufacturer”

·        Hannes Messemer as John McKellar, the Kommandant

·        Robert Graf as Lawrence Hall-Daniels, the “Ferret”



BayCity Strollers performed their own unique version of that perennial Christmas Film “The Great Escape”.

Astonishingly, BayCity started with two losses to Canterbury (0-1) and hosts Margate (1-3). Four goals had somehow been conceded in just two games.

This from a team that had not tasted any form of defeat since losing narrowly to Bexley In the South East Regional Final – and that was their only defeat in 25 games!!

What was going on? Conspiracy theories abounded. Was this a trick? Was this some kind of attempt to fool the other teams into a false sense of security? Had aliens taken over the bodies of the normally reliable walking footballers from Sandwich and switched their play mode from “not too bad” to “slightly shit”?

On the side-line heads were shaken in disbelief, foreheads were rubbed in wonder and obituaries were busily being written. Greedy eyes viewed were turned towards the pitch as reputations tumbled faster than Man Utd down the Premier League.

And then…..the great escape…

Like a phoenix from the ashes, like Seth Blatter being given a knighthood, like waking up on Boxing day without a hangover, like Jose Mourinho becoming something slightly less of a knob head, the unexpected happened.

First up was Ramsgate. Victory would lead to a place in the semi-final against the second place team. The game was close but BayCity finally achieved victory by 4 – 0.

Next up was Canterbury. A tight game with few chances ended 0 – 0 which meant a penalty shootout…Two scored and two saves meant it was still tied at 2 – 2 with both the Canterbury and BayCity keepers to have their turn. Up stood the Ferret…

A complete mishit which somehow found its way into the net and a well-timed fall to the ground just as the ball arrived meant victory. 

Last up was Margate. It was the final. The Margatonians or Margatites? must have been confident. They had won all their group games by some way.

The game itself was close but BayCity finally won 3-1. Their third walking football trophy was on its way to that special place behind the bar where future generations will stand in awe whilst listening to stories of the exploits of their heroes.

I like to think that there may be an old, no doubt slightly drunk, slightly smelly man in the corner who will pipe up and say …..”I was there”……

Lawrence Hall-Daniels


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