Last Saturday saw the East Sussex Over-60s side play their first competitive fixture, taking on Southend Over-60s Representative side.
Whilst the team had prepared well for the fixture, unfortunately it was Southend who came away with the win, beating East Sussex 5-2.
Prior to kick-off though we sat down for a chat with the brains behind the operation, David Tasker, and started by asking him what exactly is Over-60s football?
“It’s easy to remember,” said Tasker, “Over-60s football is football, with the key difference being walk-on-walk-off substitutes.
“It’s not walking football or five-a-side, it’s just football as you know it.”
“Personally, I’d tried walking football, and whilst I’d been sceptical at first, it's great fun, but I also still wanted to play traditional 11-a-side.
“I'd tried to get game time with Over-35 veterans teams locally, but unsurprisingly I couldn't get into the squad. Why would you pick me over a 38-year-old?”
It was this search to find a format for men of a certain age to play full competitive football, that led Tasker to get in touch with an ex-teammate at the Amateur Football Alliance, based in North London.
“I called Jason Kilby from the Alliance, who is now their CEO, to see if anyone might be interested in forming an Over-60s team, which is how I got my first Over-60s side. I gave them the name of Southern Counties Over 60s.
“Having recently moved to the Hastings area, I also wanted to get an East Sussex side together. With the support of the Sussex County FA, I contacted men who were also playing walking football, but were keen to get back into a different form of the game.”
For Tasker, the reasons for getting involved in over 60s football are a no-brainer.
“On the mental health side of things, it’s such a beneficial thing to be doing,” he said, "the joy of standing there before the game, with your team, it’s just a great feeling, even if you don’t win!
“The social aspect of it is also such a massive positive; I’ve met countless mates and made new connections with people all over the country thanks to it.
“Of course, it’s also just a great way to keep fit, and for men of our age to be part of a team once again.”
In terms of the age of the players, whilst most are in their early 60s, there are some exceptions.
“Whilst one of our goalkeepers, Tony Harris, is in his early 60s, our other option, John Macrae, is 71, and he’s still solid between the sticks,” said Tasker.
East Sussex side are now one of a growing number of Over-60s team across England, with Taskers side competing in the National Over 60s Cup, with four leagues seeing the top two teams going through to a Quarter-Final, and so on.
And beyond that, there’s also the England Over-60s team, which Tasker himself is preparing for a trial with.
“The fact that, at the age of 61, I could be representing my country, is mad,” said Tasker.
“And these aren’t teams of ex-players, these are just blokes who have been fortunate enough over the years to have avoided picking up any injuries!”
The message from Tasker is simple; thinking of giving Over-60s football a go? Don’t wait!
“If you’d have told me at 15, when I was playing football every five minutes, that I’d still be lacing up my boots to play on grass, over 40 years later, I’d have laughed my head off,” said Tasker.
“If you’re looking to get involved in a team sport, get active, and meet new people, there really is nothing better!”
If you’re interested in joining the team, David can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
For more information on Over-60s football in Sussex please contact:
T: 01903 766855