Friday 14th April 2017 @ FB Playing Fields, St. Helier
Erdington and Saltley 4 – 2 Barking and Dagenham
Team: Gerard, Taylor, Tiarno, Danny, Ilani, Cian, Cameron, Blessing, Che, William and Kian
Goals: Cameron x 3 and Ilani
Man of the Match: Ilani
9:00pm on Thursday evening brought with it the news we’d all been hoping for: Erdington and Saltley vs. Barking and Dagenham. For the first time ever, these two great districts had been drawn to meet. The #rudeboyderby was born.
The best way to describe the Barking and Dagenham lads is that they’re Erdington and Saltley but with a cockney twang. The two sets of kids are so alike and as such, they struck up a close bond this week. Both sets of lads were desperate to play each other. The perfect way to end the perfect week.
The game started with The Ton in the ascendancy. However as we know only too well, if you don’t take your chances at this level you’ll get punished. This is exactly what happened when Favour capitalised on a Ton mistake to slot the ball home. At the start of the week this would have been the moment when the lads had collapsed. However by this point they’d overcome a number of challenges earlier in the week to become a proper tight group. Friends back each other up and this is exactly what the lads did as they overturned the Barking and Dagenham lead to take charge of the game before half time.
Our first goal came from a Cian through ball, which relaeased Cameron, who slotted away only moments after having a goal disallowed for being offside. Then a minute later they took the lead, although it could have been different had we not got away with some poor marking. From a Barking and Dagenham free kick, we switched off and failed to mark three of their players, only to narrowly clear our lines. Then with Cameron the only Ton player upfield, Ilani released him with a sumptuous ball and the Marsh Hill baller did the rest.
If the first half had been a fairly equal affair, the second half was all about The Ton. The boys peppered the Londeners’ goal, only to find their keeper in imperious form. Our persistence paid off when Ilani hit a low drive into the bottom corner to give The Ton a 3-1 lead. Shots continued to rain down on the Dagenham goal but none were converted, leaving the lads in danger of a sucker punch from the London lads. With five minutes to go, Favour once again raced onto a poor Ton ball before smashing the ball home. At 3-2 we looked a little nervous, until Cameron completed his hat trick to relieve the pressure and give the boys a well deserved victory.
The end of the game brought with it my favourite moment of the game. Both sets of players rushed to embrace each other and congratulate each other on their respective efforts. No player cared one bit about the result. The rivals were now well and truly friends. This is the beauty of Jersey!
It was then over to us coaches to show the boys how it should (not) be done! I don’t think I will ever be allowed to live down the foul throw, especially as I had moaned at one or two of the lads during the week for their inability to keep their feet on the floor.
Then it was on to Pizza Hut for the end of week celebration with the parents who’d travelled to the island to support the boys. One or two of the lads got sidetracked by the presence of some girls on the next table. You’ve got to admire their persistence!
There was still time on the clock after Pizza Hut for one final game of football. A mammoth game of beach football entertained the boys for a couple of hours and capped off a brilliant second half to the week on the pitch. Before heading back to the hotel, the boys left their mark on the sands of Jersey by writing their name on the beach. I’m certain their name will be remembered long after the sea has washed away the sands in which they wrote a The Ton!
Last year at the presentation evening, we knew nothing of the smart dress code and arrived dressed in our vests and shorts. This year we were better prepared and the lads looked the business in their best shirts and dancing shoes. If only the Pizza Hut girls could see them now!
The evening was capped off with a few games of pool and a blast of the Erdington and Saltley jukebox.
Up The Ton!