Congratulations to Wickwar Wanderers U11’s for becoming champions of the Mid Gloucestershire Mini Soccer League 2014-15. The team are Joe Stott, Colby Barker, Sam Luton, Corey Gillard, Matthew Bird, Jacob Hucker, Joe Pennington, Finn Lingham, Ollie Bath and Chris Sluman.
With hard fought but fairly played performances, Paul Bath’s team ended their season with an impressive 14 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat, scoring 71 and conceding only 13 goals. And I think it’s fair to say that it was a real step up this season for the boys, as at times they had to handle teams with a far greater physical and verbal presence than they have been used to playing against. Their conduct at all times was exemplary. For this alone they had some very proud parents on the touchline.
Massive credit to Paul Bath for his training sessions with the boys, This year’s move from weekend to weekday, evening sessions allowed even more training time than previous seasons, and Paul’s hard work and patience was repaid by everyone one of the boys having career best performances this season. And amid Paul’s familiar and relentless encouragement for the boys to ‘Pass!’ and ‘Don’t wait for the ball’, all that improvement was done in a great atmosphere of fun.
Hard to pick a few highlights out of such a successful season, but for me top of the list, and the one that for me says what this team is really about, was the wonderful team celebration that followed the scoring of Joe Pennington’s cracking first goal for the team. That goal could have come against any team, ahead or behind in the match, in pouring rain or glorious sunshine and that pleasure that all the boys shared would have been exactly the same. Also, this is a team that instinctively does the right thing. Credit to Ollie Bath who, in the absence of a whistle, stopped chasing the goal bound attacker to go to the aid of Jacob who’d taken a nasty tumble; credit to Finn who caught the ball and stopped play when Chris took a head injury, after the referee had failed to stop play. This is a team that just naturally plays for each other. Credit to everyone in the team who shared their own goal scoring opportunities to give others a chance to make the score-sheet, in particular the fantastic efforts of everyone to try and get Sam Luton on the score-sheet against Chalford, after Paul had pushed him up field for a rare excursion out of defence.
A few other highlights from many: Joe Stott’s command of his penalty box and his being 100% involved in every match, as his booming voice marshalled his defence: Colby’s marauding runs out of defence, down the wing, all the way to the opposition by-line; Sam’s sheer doggedness and determination on every tackle, once he was upon you, he just couldn’t be shaken off; Corey’s perfectly timed sliding tackles and his ‘take it off me if you dare’ composure as he walked the ball out of defence; Matthew Bird bringing all the confidence and skill that so deservedly won him Most Improved Player last season, which was on full display with his solo run and screaming finish when netting from distance against Chalford; watching Joe Pennington grow in confidence with every match, always playing with a smile on his face, and of course that special first goal; Jacob’s explosive pace between both penalty boxes and must also mention his match winning, pin-point header direct from a corner in the final game of the season, rounded off by yet another of Jacob’s ‘blink and you missed it’ understated goal celebrations; Finn, an invaluable mid-season addition to the team, who used his ability to strike the ball really sweetly to deliver many telling passes and corners, and who also memorably went through an entire training session with the addition of what can only be described as home-made breast enhancements; Ollie, playing in possibly the toughest position of all (son of the Manager!), worked tirelessly in midfield and attack, always ready with the killer through ball, and is possibly this year’s unlucky recipient of ‘I Hit The Woodwork Most Times’ award; Chris netting his 50th goal of the season in the title securing match against Rodborough Lions, and his cool as a cucumber, match winning penalty against Broadwell Youth, which with only 2 matches remaining got the points that vitally kept the outcome of the title race in Wickwar’s own hands.
Well done lads.
(Is that winning streak going to come to an end when the boys take on a team of parents at the Football Frolics? See you all there to find out.)