The victorious Walsall Recyclers and their match trophy (Pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 16 May 2011
Walsall football fans had an exciting alternative to the Stoke vs Man. City battle, on home ground, Saturday last at 2pm, when the borough's Binmen challenged their colleagues the Recyclers to a charity football match in Bloxwich aimed at raising funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The hard-fought 'local derby' between the friendly rivals from Walsall Council’s waste management department took place at Bloxwich United AFC's 'Old Red Lion Ground' in Somerfield Road, the scene of many a dust-up between top amateur teams from across the country in recent years.
Get in there! A Walsall Binman (in blue) skilfully out-manouevers his opponent
Both sides showed energy and passion in a good-natured but highly competitive game that saw much charging up and down the field together with a lot of smart footwork, agility and strong tackling which resulted in considerable excitement and tension right from the kick-off, with the Binmen playing from the downslope end of the pitch (south) and the Recyclers from the top of the pitch.
Players on both sides gave it their all, but it has to be admitted that the Binmen struggled with the slope at times, and by half-time the Recyclers, who just kept on coming back for more, were on top with a score of 3-0 in their favour. Keepers on both sides fought hard to bolster the defence, with mixed results offering the crowd both heroism and tragedy in equal measure.
Saved! The Binmen's keeper takes to the air
It was a game of two halves, however, and when the sides changed ends the tables were partially turned, with the Binmen stroking in two fine goals, but the Recyclers poured it on again before long and there was just not enough time for the gallant Binmen to put them on the tip, giving a result of 4-2 at the final whistle.
There were one or two minor injuries and the occasional penalty awarded, but no cards or sendings-off from match officials Brian Heath (referee), Alan Dillon and G. Edwards (linesmen).
Head-to-head in the Recyclers' goalmouth
The two teams showed their good-natured but competitive spirit right to the end, when they joined together for a mixed team photo with the victorious Walsall Recyclers nonetheless hanging tightly on to their well-earned trophy!
Friendly rivals to the end: Binmen and Recyclers together
Mick Edwards, assistant area manager for recycling at Walsall Council, had said in advance of the match: “A number of our family and friends have received treatment at the hospital, so this charity game is a way of saying thank you for the care they’ve received.
Mick played for the 'binmen', despite working for the recycling team in his day job. He said: "I'll be playing against my new team at work so that should be interesting!"
A great game, well-fought between two great teams, for a good cause and in our own backyard. What could be better?