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The Masters Experience

This was something I had been looking forward to greatly since winning The Yorkshire Masters regional heat. When you are retired this is the closest thing we get to a decent competitive standard of football.

The organisers of the event are fantastic. The players families are well looked after and the free kit and boots is always nice!!

My good mate and man Utd goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington travelled over to Manchester with me from Lincoln. Somehow we knew we would play against Man Utd during the course of the evening.

As those who watched will probably agree, Rangers proved to be one hurdle too far for us. Although they were the best team we did have a slight disadvantage given the amount of recovery time we were given before the semi-final against Manchester Utd and Rangers in the final. Having said that there is no real other way of doing it seeing as it is being screened live on Sky TV.

Having watched Watford be well beaten in their only match we mentioned that we didn’t just want to turn up and play the one match. Luckily enough we got off to a great start against Liverpool. Although we showed signs of throwing it away against them towards the end we had a big enough goal advantage to see it through. Clyde and Hucks had a great understanding with each other and were too powerful for the fancied Liverpool.   

The first game is always the easiest. Adrenalin and fairly fresh legs get you through the first game although we all knew that the legs would tire as the games continued. Paul Butler had a slight hamstring issue so we ended up being a man down for the whole evening which also took its toll.

So on to Manchester United in the semis. The profile of the evening had been raised significantly with the inclusion of Roy Keane. Although I played against him when he was at Notts Forrest during my debut for Leeds Utd it was still special to be on the same pitch as him.

The Leeds Utd following made themselves heard during this game enormously and we gladly paid them back with a victory. Although Man Utd had the lion’s share of possession we turned our chances into goals to claim our place in the final.

Now although as ex-players we play down the winning feeling we get there was no denying that we were all buzzing after this game.

We were told that we had only 4 minutes before we had be back on for the final. Rangers kept the ball very well and Michael Mols was different class up front for them.  In the end it was too much for us although it was great to be a part of it.

This has been my third year playing in The Masters and I look forward to playing each year. There is always somebody who you catch up with who you haven’t seen for a few years and the football banter is something that you miss when you no longer play full-time.

Hopefully I will be asked to play again next year when we can go one better and win the trophy.

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