Saturday 14th May 2016 @ Heartlands Academy
West Midlands County Schools’ FA League Final
Erdington and Saltley 3 – 1 Sutton Coldfield
Team: Rob, Sam, Kye, Tion, Kane, Ilani, Cameron, Samim, Rio, Diago, Harvey, Taylor and Pharrelle
Goals: Rio x 2 and Cameron
Man of the Match: Tion
Four things come to mind as I sit here the morning after the day before and reminisce about another historic day for this special bunch of boys. Four things.
One – The support and unity of all the parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and of course, Grandad Parker. From the very first whistle, the sound of Tracy shrieking and whooping in encouragement of all of the boys and the booming of Esme rattling her crutches against the fence created a wonderful atmosphere. It may have been loud, but it was always positive and always in the spirit that the game demanded. This season we have arguably had the greatest set of supporters that we’ve ever had! Over the past few seasons we have been blessed with some truly wonderful parents. Parents who have gone above and beyond. However never have we had as many as we’ve got this year.
With the season drawing to a close, I’m left wondering how we’ll replace the Ton Army of 2015/16!
Two – The unity of the boys. There were four subs yesterday – Diago, Taylor, Harvey and Pharrelle. Four subs who didn’t manage to get on the pitch. Four subs who were not bothered about their own personal gains, but were only concerned by the team’s needs. When it was explained to them that the frantic, tense nature of the final did not lend itself to wholesale changes, they told me not to worry and continued to support the team from the sidelines. This team spirit can’t be faked. It is real. These boys are friends, not just team mates.
With the season drawing to a close, I’m left wondering how we’ll replace the Ton spirit of 2015/16!
Three – the final whistle brought nothing more than a few cheers and some fist pumping. There was a visible respect for the Sutton boys. As a team, we know what it is like to lose a final. It’s not nice. Just like against Aston last week, the boys embraced the opposition respectfully and acknowledged the part that they had played in making this a brilliant spectacle. Even when they had their hands on the trophy, they had to be encouraged to have a little dance and to belt out a rendition of ‘Chamionies’. Their humble and grounded attitude is one of their biggest strengths as a team.
With the season drawing to a close, I’m left wondering how we’ll replace the Ton integrity of 2015/16!
Four- We refused to lie down and roll over. After falling a goal behind, the boys steadied the ship and composed themselves. With half of the game consigned to the realms of history, the boys would have been forgiven for panicking. After all, we’ve been here before with Sutton! However, they simply saw the goal as a signal to step it up a gear. If they controlled the first 30 minutes without threatening Sutton where it really hurt, the second 30 minutes was a totally different affair!
Five minutes after falling behind, the lads drew level through a sensational half-volley from outside the area courtesy of Rio. After watching the ball rebound it’s way around the Sutton area following a dangerous Ton corner, Rio grabbed the bull by the horns and rifled home the sweetest of shots!
Refusing to rest and noticing that Sutton were understandably wobbling, the boys threw everything forward and attacked in numbers. Two minutes after equalising, they had taken the lead. Linking up superbly down the right hand side of the pitch, the ball was swung in hard and low by Kane and prodded home by Cameron for his 21st goal of the season. A stunning number of goals for a winger!
There was more to come, as the lads almost made it three goals in the space of five minutes. Twice they went close before the end of the second third, only for the ref to blow his whistle and give Sutton a chance to regroup.
The final third saw the Sutton lads throw everything at us, only to be met by the immoveable trio of Sam, Kye and Tion. Shot after shot was blocked. Cross after cross was headed away. Through ball after through ball was intercepted. Player after player was tackled. As a unit they were formidable.
Further up the pitch, the midfield of Rio, Samim, Kane and Ilani were working overtime to ensure that our grip on the title remained firm. Every blade of artificial grass was covered as the midfield sought to close down the Sutton boys instantly and release Cameron as early as possible. As a result of the front five’s endeavour and commitment, a third goal came our way with 9 minutes left on the clock. Once again finding himself on the right, Kane chipped a ball to the far post where it was met by the head of Rio. Just like our other winger Cameron, Rio has had a sensational season, with this goal being his 24th of the campaign.
The last nine minutes saw all nine boys defend as a unit and deflect every direct attack that Sutton threw their way.
It wouldn’t be fair to not mention the Sutton boys, whose herculean effort was once again evident for all to see. It’s been some battle this season! A battle between two teams very evenly matched. A battle between two teams who are a walking advert for the merits of schools’ football. A battle between two teams that will live long in the memory of all involved with district football in 2015/16. Thank you Mike and the lads. It’s been our pleasure. Well done Sutton!
With the season drawing to a close, I’m left wondering how we’ll replace the Ton never-say-die attitude of 2015/16!
Lets take a minute to reflect on the achievements of this special group of friends:
- Bath International Cup Winners
- Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA 7-a-side Winners
- Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA Futsal Championship Winners
- English Schools’ FA/Premier League West Midlands 9-a-side Cup Winners
- Midland Challenge Cup Winners
- Birmingham Primary Schools’ FA Cup Winners
- West Midlands County Schools’ FA League Winners
- Birmingham Primary Schools FA’ League Runners-up
- Birmingham Primary Schools FA’ Winter Cup Runners-up
- Birmingham Primary Schools FA’ Daniel Sturridge Cup Runners-up
- West Midlands County Schools’ 7-a-side Runners-up
- English Schools’ FA Jersey Festival – Played Six, Won Five, Lost One
- They have competed with and beat districts of far greater size
- They have put Erdington and Saltley on the national footballing map
As match report conclusions go, that list is quite the conclusion.
Thank you boys. Thank you mums, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and thank you Grandad Parker.
Up The Ton!