Cambrian United Hot Steppers
The Hotsteppers Welsh Womens Open

June 28, 2022

Women’s Walking Football Welsh Open: 8 Most Memorable Moments

On Sunday 31 July 2022, The Hot Steppers took part in the very first Women’s Walking Football Welsh Open. Here are the stand-out moments from a day that will live long in the memory of all those dressed in pink…

8 – Pre-tournament Maccy D’s in the car park

“Well, if it’s good enough for George Best*!” declared defender Jo Davies when she turned up 20 minutes after everyone else. 

*Fact Check! 

There is no record of George Best eating a McDonald’s before a football match, although he did like a chocolate bar. We assume Jo was thinking of Elvis and his fondness for cheeseburgers!

7 – The ‘forever’ goal that changed everything

The day got off to a shaky start for The Hot Steppers when a mix-up in defence saw them concede an early goal against Melksham Yellow. Although they grew in confidence as the game went on, with Tracey ‘Turbo’ Poole and Pam Denbury causing havoc on the left, an equaliser failed to materialise and it looked as if the team was heading for defeat. But a chance shot from out wide by winger Cerys Rees changed the game… and likely the day. Bouncing off one post and then the other, time seemed to stop as the ball slowly, slowly, slowly trickled over the line. One all! When Leanne Rees-Smith then hit a cracking winner on the hooter, The Hot Steppers were well and truly up and running.

6 – Jo’s mid-game walk-off

In their second game against the Tydfils, Jo misunderstood a direction from the sidelines and briefly wandered off the pitch, leaving her teammates a woman down against the group favourites, while they were on the attack. Much frantic yelling from Emma James and Kate Lloyd, in particular, meant Jo’s secondment was brief, with the game ending in a hard-fought 0-0 draw. This particular game also included former netballer Cerys randomly catching the ball, giving everyone – including the opposition and the referee – a good chuckle. 

5 – Managing like a boss

Lee Rogers, The Hot Steppers’ Coach-For-The-Day, proved a revelation – despite not having met most of the team before. His decision to play a diamond formation, effective use of all 10 players – especially in their 2-0 victory against Caldicot when they weren’t able to execute their usual game-plan of “getting the ball to Leanne” because Leanne was having a well-earned rest for the first half  – and incisive instructions from the sidelines saw The Hot Steppers, who were rank outsiders going into the tournament, play far more effectively than they had in the past. Thank you, Lee!

4 – This girl is on fire!

Having scored a cracking goal in the first game and two in the third, The Hot Steppers’ star striker, Leanne Rees-Smith, hit a fantastic hat-trick in the team’s final group game against Exeter Walkers, with the overall 5-0 scoreline meaning they pipped group opponents the Tydfils (also on three wins and a draw) for a place in the final. Leanne was also the only Hot Stepper to score her penalty, taking her tally for the day to a phenomenal and tournament-topping seven. Cue Alicia Keys!

3You shall not pass!

Twice Andrea Griffiths has played in pink, and twice the Port Talbot Prowler (ed’s note: nickname might need work) has been absolutely superb. At the Welsh Open, she formed a defensive wall of steel with fellow defender Bethan Amos and The Hot Steppers’ makeshift goalkeeper Amy Lloyd that would have made Gandalf himself proud. There will always be a pink shirt waiting for you at The Miners, Andrea!

2 – “I’m too nervous to watch, I’m gonna go in the changing rooms!”

Brought in to cover for The Hot Steppers’ regular goalkeeper Gar-Yee – who was on her hols – usual defender Amy Lloyd had an absolute stormer in goals, with her reaction saves keeping The Hot Steppers in the game on several occasions. Perhaps Amy’s most memorable moment of the day, though, was when she declared that she couldn’t watch the penalty shoot-out between The Hot Steppers and the Merthyr Tydfil Martyrs (which would decide the tournament) as she was too nervous. The penny eventually clicked and she made two outstanding saves…

1 Teamwork makes the dream work

It ultimately wasn’t to be for the team in pink when they lost 2-1 on penalties to deserving victors the Martyrs, but in getting to the final they had surprised everyone, especially themselves. It’s a cliche but, from The Hot Steppers on the pitch (and those who couldn’t be there) to manager Lee, their mini Pink Wall and the many family and friends who had turned up to cheer them on, team work really does make the dream work – and the girls were still bouncing the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. Football, it’s a funny old game…

Honourable Mention

– The Buffet

Special mention must go to the post-tournament celebrations which saw all the lovely teams come together for a frankly magnificent buffet and to watch the Lionesses triumph over Germany. Friendships forever forged! 

Thank you Cardiff City House Of Sport LWFC for hosting an incredible day. We’ll see you next year.

The Hotsteppers Welsh Open
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