The Harrogate Veterans side flying the flag for their country at the 2019 Seniors World Cup in Thailand have reached the quarter-finals of the competition.
Paul Bell’s team have been chosen by the Football Association to represent England at the annual tournament for the past 12 years and have won it on no fewer than five occasions.
Harrogate’s coaching staff and several of their key players form the core of the group, but their enhancement by several other ex-professionals from around the country has enabled them to compete with other nations who have similar squad profiles.
And the club’s unique position of representing England has been strengthened by their success of their enhanced squad during recent tournaments.
Bell’s troops look a good bet to go on and make it four consecutive titles after sealing their place in the competition’s last eight on Tuesday when they drew 1-1 with Hong Kong.
In a match dominated by the searing Bangkok heat, Hong Kong provided a stern test to the reigning champions, who were captained by Harrogate regular Jon Haigh.
The Three Lions fell behind just before half-time and despite spending most of the second period camped in their opponents’ penalty area, theycouldn’t find a way through.
That was until ex-Fulham striker Barry Hayles was brought down in the box and Deon Burton, once of Derby County and Portsmouth converted the resulting spot-kick to level matters.
In their opening fixture, England defeated Taiwan by a 4-2 scoreline.
Hayles was the star of the show, scoring a hat-trick in 50 minutes, with Chris Freestone also getting on to the score-sheet.
That side also featured a number of Harrogate players, including goalkeeper Steve Dickinson, defender Haigh and influential winger Lee Elam.
England were cruising with a three-goal lead at the interval, but there was late drama as Taiwan threatened a comeback in the final quarter of the game, scoring twice in the closing stages.