We took seven boys to a cold and overcast Stonehouse for the end of season tournament with high hopes of doing well.
Our opening match was against Golden Valley. Everyone was a bit nervy (not to mention tired after our awards night), and there wasn’t too much nice football going on. Thankfully Ellis Cox came on for the second half and saved our blushes scoring the only goal of the game. A well struck effort we hoped it would be the catalyst for belter performances from then on. Next up were Wotton Lions. Another tense affair, the final result was nil-nil and at the time we considered this to be pretty disappointing. (When put in context later, however, it was a decent result.)
The teamed gelled better in game three and Jack Knowler found his shooting boots as we eased past Rodborough B (3-0). Knowler scored again as we then went on to beat Wotton Tigers (1-0).
Our final group match didn’t go to plan. We conceded out first goal of the day and although Knowler banged in another cracker the boys seemed to be struggling as a unit and we scrapped a draw. Worst of all, the impressive Declan McGettigan picked up a nasty foot injury and was unable to continue.
Wotton Lions good form meant we needed to beat Frampton if we were to go through as group winners. Lions secured top spot themselves by beating Wotton Tigers.
It was no surprise that King’s Stanley won Group A so we found ourselves in the semi-final against the league champions.
It’s fair to say the boys had played in fits and starts up to this point and although we remained undefeated the omens weren’t good when we lined up against free scoring Stanley. The Wanderers boys love to continually confound us though, and to the delight of everyone the six fit boys, cheered on by McGettigan, proceeded to play out of their skins.
Joe Sands was immense in goal, we thought we were done for near the end, but his last minute clearance again kept KS at bay.
Josh Werreitt and Jake Templeton were fantastic at the back. Stanley are so used to racking up high scores they couldn’t quite believe how both boys, especially Werreitt, continually thwarted their efforts. While Werreitt was busy doing his terrier impression Templeton did exceptionally well carrying the ball forward whenever possible and feeding Ellis Cox, Jake Hawkins and Knowler.
Cox ran himself ragged helping out the defence and supporting Knowler up top and Hawkins was a powerhouse in the middle. There was an audible wince when he performed the best of his many bone-crunching tackles. His surges forward in support of the tireless Knowler took the game to Stanley who appeared slightly shell-shocked come the end of a goalless match.
That meant three minutes each way of extra time. Nerves were frayed pitch side, but the boys just got better. Stanley broke the deadlock early on. We didn’t clear our lines and Sands had no chance with the shot. Instead of crumbling the boys immediately fought back. Templeton fed Hawkins who rounded a defender and crossed to Knowler. With his back to goal and much still to do Knowler spun round in an instant and hit an unstoppable shot into the Stanley net. It was the first goal they’d conceded in the whole tournament and they were definitely rocking.
Much as we tried we couldn’t quite finish them off their goalie making a great save late on from Knowler.
Inevitably matters had to be resolved by penalties. After the mandatory three each the score was two all (Sands pulling off a great save along the way) which meant sudden death. Stanley scored theirs and unfortunately we didn’t.
It was heart-breaking for the boys to miss out on the final, but great how they rallied round each other at the end. Having missed out on the match himself how great to see McGettigan putting an encouraging arm around his team mates shoulders. Nice one Dec!
The Wanderers supporters were so proud of all the boys (for a brief moment Ben Hawkins even stopped eating!!) and regardless of the result we considered them all to be winners. And let’s not forget, we didn’t lose a single game in open play and only conceded two goals in the whole tournament.
Understandably the boys were down, but they quickly realized their school friends in Wotton Lions had come through the other semi-final defeating Rodborough A. We all then made a collective decision to hang around and cheer them on in the final, although if we’re honest we suspected Stanley would come out on top.
How wrong we were! Lions were fantastic and beat KS fair and square 2-0. I’m sure Wanderers played our part having battered Stanley in the semi, but the day belonged to Colin Weston and the Lions.
All in all a great day out and well done to our seven unbeaten heroes Ellis Cox, Jake Hawkins, Jack Knowler, Declan McGettigan, Joe Sands, Jake Templeton & Josh Werreitt.