Brighton Walking Football Club in action in the FA People's Cup

Brighton Walking Football Club FA Peoples Cup journey

Sussex based club made it to the final at St Georges Park

Sussex based walking football club, The Seals made it to the finals of the walking football category of The FA People’s Cup which was held at St George’s Park.

It was a cold, drizzly day at St. George’s Park, but for the top Walking Football side in the South East - The Brighton Seals, there was a great deal of excitement in the air.

The Seals - part of Brighton Walking Football Club - went through a long and hard qualification campaign in their finals day quest.

Their People’s Cup journey started with local qualifiers, followed by a gruelling nine-team regional knockout round in Wimbledon, where only one side could progress to England’s esteemed training complex to compete at finals day. It was the Seals who triumphed.

But what is The FA People’s Cup? Essentially, it’s a series of small-sided, free to enter series competitions run by The FA, partnered with the BBC’s Get Inspired scheme. Walking Football was one of eighteen categories, which also included disability football, college and veterans.

35,000 people were involved in the People’s Cup last year, and this year promised to be even bigger. For the Walking Football, just six teams remained to compete on finals day in a round-robin tournament, followed by the top four progressing to the semi-finals.

The Seals’ first opponents were Beccles Town FC. The two sides played out an intense 1-1 draw, although the Brighton side will have been aggrieved not to take all three points after taking the lead and hitting the woodwork twice.

Back-to-back defeats followed for the Seals, who narrowly lost 2-1 to Pele’s Pearls before succumbing 2-0 against eventual winners Fleetwood Town Flyers.

Despite the tricky start to proceedings and obvious quality of the opposition, the good-spirited nature of the fixtures never waned, and it was clear that all competitors were having a fantastic day. The matches were all competitive and played with passion, but the underlying levels of respect and sportsmanship were ever-present.

Despite a thrilling 2-2 draw against Wilts FC Yellow in their penultimate game, the Seals’ People’s Cup journey came to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Grangetown Walking Football A.

There were handshakes and smiles all-round, and although the Seals ended the day in sixth place, there was a clear sense of pride at making it to St. George’s Park in the first place, as representatives of Walking Football in the South East. 

Seals manager, Bill Clifford, was positive about his team’s journey: “Whilst I'm disappointed for the guys that we really weren't at our best today, it's been a fantastic run and there won't be many who've had the chance to play football at St George's Park in their 50's and 60's.  What a great experience.”

Fleetwood Town Flyers wound up eventual winners of the competition, beating Beccles Town in the final on penalties. 

Match report by Ryan Elliott