Friday 6th May 2016 @ Bodymoor Heath, Aston Villa
Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA Cup Final
Erdington and Saltley 8 – 0 Aston
Team: Robbo, Sam, Kye, Tion, Kane, Ilani, Rio, Cameron P, Troy, Harvey, Samim, Cian T, Taylor, Diago and Pharrelle
Goals: Troy x3, Kane x3, Cameron and Ilani
Man of the Match: Really?!
The year was 2014. After finishing second in the Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA League, The Ton suffered further heartbreak in the final of the Second City Cup, after being pulled apart by a young man from South Birmingham called Tim.
The year was 2015. After finishing second in the Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA League, The Ton suffered further heartbreak in the final of the Second City Cup, after conceding two goals in the final three minutes to lose 2-1 to Kings Norton.
The year was 2016. After finishing second in the Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA League, The Ton suffered…er…actually we won! We only went and won the cup! We only went and did it in style! There were around 150 spectators stretched out pitch-side last night. There will be around 150 people who will remember that performance for many years to come! It was that good.
I never make a secret of the affinity that I have for Aston. I have been a teacher for nine years and six of those have been spent in Handsworth, which falls in the Aston district. This is why this final meant so much for me personally.
Many of our boys have grown up playing football alongside the Aston boys, such is the close proximity of the two districts. This is why this final meant so much for them personally.
Cameron P, Sam, Troy and Kane were part of the crushing blow that was the 2015 final. For 55 minutes of that game we bossed Kings Norton, hitting the bar and having one cleared off the line after taking a 1-0 lead. Then in the blink of an eye we found ourselves behind. It hurt. It hurt more than words can explain.
A year in football is a very long time. The past twelve months have been breathtaking. One piece of history after another. One record after another. With five trophies already in the bag, the boys were determined to lift the one piece of silverware that has eluded this fine district for years. In fact, forever!
Starting the game like a steam-train, the boys raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of Kane and Troy finishes. The intensity and pace at which they started the final was exactly what we demanded before the game. They couldn’t have started any better.
The lead was doubled before the break when Ilani and Kane added further goals. Yenton midfielder Ilani had already tested the keeper from distance on three occasions before striking rich with his fourth attempt. Flying past the outstretched arm of Lawrence, Ilani’s left-footed rocket nestled into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
As crazy as it sounds, we knew the lads had another gear to find and we asked them to find it! The second half saw Rio and Cameron creating mayhem down the wings, whilst Ilani grew into the game, commanding the midfield, often single-handedly as Troy and Kane were effectively playing as a front two. At the back, Sam nullified the aerial threat of Aston whilst Kye and Tion contributed hugely to a commanding defensive performance. St. Barnabas fullback Kye was breathing down the neck of every Aston player as soon as they dared enter his domain, whilst Tion was the epitome of composure. As for Robbo…he kept a clean sheet in a final. Enough said!
Four more goals were scored, with both Kane and Troy bagging a hat trick each and Cameron grabbing a deserved goal.
Kane’s third goal saw him equal Shilo’s all-time Ton goal scoring record. St. Matthew’s finisher Shilo scored 30 goals during the 2013/14 season and a further 44 goals during the 2014/15 campaign. I was fairly confident that his total of 74 goals would never be beaten. Yet again, my lack of footballing knowledge has been exposed for all to see! Step forward Mr Taylor. With 24 goals in the bag during the 2014/15 season, the Hodge Hill midfielder has added a further 50 goals this season and there’s still a few more games to go!
It is worth noting that Aston put in a huge shift. They gave everything that they had for their manager Adam. They ran through brick walls for him on that pitch last night. They deserve a huge amount of credit for refusing to let their heads drop. They did Aston proud. As a teacher from Aston – they did me proud. Well done boys!
Speaking of feeling proud…At the start of the week I made it clear to all of the lads that I couldn’t guarantee anyone that they would play. Just like last year when Cameron and Sam put that to the back of their mind for the team, our six subs did the same again this year. Diago, Harvey, Pharrelle, Samim, Cian and Taylor were not concerned that they might not play; the six of them just wanted to be part of the evening. This is a sign of how special this bunch of lads are. It shows how strong their team spirit is.
As it turned out, all six of them got on the field and all of them had an impact on the game. From Diago popping up on the right wing when he was meant to be playing left back, to Cian almost scoring a screamer from distance. All six lads contributed to the win and left their mark on the game.
The final whistle didn’t initially bring wild celebrations. Instead it brought warm embraces between the two sets of lads and countless acknowledgements of respect. The sight of the Aston boys congratulating the Erdington boys, and vice versa, was a beautiful thing!
So our third visit to Bodymoor Heath turned out to be our night.Our special night.
You’ll notice that I haven’t named a man-of-the-match. How could I?!
Well done boys! You are one very special group!
Up The Ton!