What started as a joke has turned into the “ageing, arthritic, backbone” of West Hamilton United Football Club.
The Floppy Noodles are the old boys team at West Ham.
Being in the Noodles is like “being in a rock ‘n’ roll band”, club chairman Shane Finlay joked. “Everyone wants to have that Floppy Noodles supporters’ shirt. Especially the girls, they love lime green.”
Club president Stephen Quinn said the Floppy Noodles football side spend a lot of time thinking about how they can improve West Ham.
“The really, really pleasing part is that now and then we actually execute [the ideas],” he said.
Club secretary Stuart Rose added that they “usually think over a beer”.
The Floppy Noodles got their name at a tournament in Tauranga when the over-35 team went out for a drink after a game.
In the taxi on the way back to the motel, one of the players mentioned how he had a “floppy noodle, man”.
Finlay said the next season they played it was as the Floppy Noodles. Then the idea extended to designing the shirts.
A couple of years after the team got their name, they got their logo: Floppy Noodles written
in lime green in the croobie font. The logo now appears on their football strip, ties, and the after-match shirts.
“That’s part of the brand, the lime green,” Quinn said.
Even their playing socks are lime green.
This year the Floppy Noodles are playing in the D division.
Cambridge D1 manager Harry Bomans said “it’s fair to say that they are a team who play the game in the right spirit”.
The two teams are a “similar vintage” and have played against each other for a number of years. While Cambridge are yet to lose to the Floppy Noodles, Bomans thinks it is down to luck. Cambridge beat the Floppy Noodles 3-2 on Saturday.
“Plenty of teams who have played are a lot worse than them and manage to beat us so we’ve snuck away with another lucky victory today,” Bomans said.
Losing does not get the Floppys down though. Quinn said he still enjoys the football.
“You can always take some gems out of [the game], even today,” he said. “We actually did a lot better than some other days in terms of how well we played.
“For 60 minutes we played reasonably well,” Rose added.
The Floppy Noodles are considered the Old Boys team at West Hamilton but the ages of players range from 18 to 54.
Finlay said the younger players “want to be Noodles”.
“If you can’t play firsts or reserves, you’re going to play social, you might as well play for the Floppy Noodles.”
While the team has plenty of players, Quinn is sure there will be a game later on in the season where availability could become a problem “because it’s the Noodles and people have other things in their life”. He understands that football is not “necessarily as important to everyone as family”.
Rose agrees. After the last few years playing for West Hamilton’s first team and then reserves he decided to play social because he feels he has peaked.”Playing at the level we are you can make calls on things like that [family] whereas at the higher levels you’ve got to focus on the team a bit more,” Rose said.
The games where only nine players show up are the ones Finlay is looking forward to. “You might not have any subs, but you know the boys that turn up, they’re Noodles.”
While the Noodles enjoy a laugh off the field, on the field it is all about the football.
“Every time you take the field you take it seriously as you should,” Finlay said. “You play to play and you play to win.”
He might joke about the social aspect of the side, but while that’s a big part of the Floppy Noodles, “it’s more about being a supportive part of the club”.
Finlay said he would just “like to be able to predict I can get through a season but the rest of it is just a bonus”.
Quinn predicts that the team will enjoy the season.
“You celebrate the win and you sing your song,” Quinn said.
And, says Rose, if they lose they have a beer anyway.
“We will remain floppy,” Rose said.
The majority of the Floppy Noodles games will be played at Bremworth Park, which they have dubbed as Noodle Park.