The day had finally arrived. We had all been eagerly awaitingthe morning of 8th November for some time. The U9A boys’ football team had been nothing short of awesome in the ACSIS League Division 2 this season, finishing unbeaten in their nine matches. In fact, so impressive were they in these matches, that ACSIS promoted them into the Division 1 end of season tournament. The boys knew they were still good enough to win, but they were now up against much tougher opposition. Mr Cole had moulded this bunch of fine footballers into a formidable unit but was unfortunately away at the Phuket tournament, and so I was lucky enough to be drafted in as coach for the ACSIS tournament.
After a night of thunder storms and torrential rain, the first match kicked off under leaden skies at 8.15am at UWC Dover. It turned out to be a nervous 0-0 draw against OFS, with diminutive goalkeeper Edward Myles keeping us in the game with a couple of great stops. The boys picked up the tempo in their second match against SAS, and took a 1-0 lead late on when a great angled shot by Alfie Tomlinson was helped over the line by Josh Vaughan. Their jubilant fathers on the touchline agreed to share the goal! However, disaster struck as SAS scrambled home an equalizer with the last kick of the game. The boys were gutted at throwing away their hard fought lead, but had to concentrate on the next match against CNIS. They bounced back magnificently in a splendid 4-1 victory, which featured a brilliant hat-trick from Sammy Patten and an amazing free-kick from inside his own half by Alfie Tomlinson which thundered against the cross-bar. This was more like it! With one win and two draws, Coach Tomlinson told the boys that they had to go out and win their last game against UWC East if they were to reach the semi-finals. Another tight game saw the boys go into a 1-0 lead through the predatory Josh Vaughan only for history to repeat itself when UWC East scored a last minute equalizer.
Could one win and three draws really be enough to squeeze the boys through to the semi-finals? After an agonizing wait, the results were announced: ‘The first semi-final on pitch 1 is between UWC Dover and MCM’. Incredibly they had reached the semi-finals and were now in with a shout of the trophy. Despite scraping through by the skin of their teeth, the boys, their coach and all their watching parents knew that we could go all the way. So, to the semi-final…
Straight from the kick-off, Sammy Patten knocked it back to Alfie Tomlinson who spectacularly hit it first time from inside his own half into the top of the UWC Dover net! 1-0 to MCM in the first minute. The UWC Dover striker placed the ball on the centre circle to re-start the game and smashed it first time into the top of the MCM net! The watching parents could not believe what they were seeing as the referee allowed the goal and pointed to the centre spot. The score was 1-1 and it was still the first minute! Controversy ensued as discussions were had as to the validity of the equalizer between the opposing coaches, the referee and the tournament coordinator. Now, to clarify here, rule 8 of the ‘FIFA Laws of the Game’ states that ‘A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off’. However, in matches played on such small pitches, it was confirmed by the coordinator that such a goal should not be counted. However, Law 5 states that‘The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored, are final’ and therefore the goal had to stand. Not to be thwarted, the boys rolled up their sleeves and, after some great work by Oliver Medcraft on the right, Josh Vaughan was there to make it 2-1 and fire the team into the final!
Awaiting our heroes in the final were the same SAS side who had equalized with the last kick of the earlier group game. The boys knew they were the better team, and were determined to prove it. Compared to the drama of the semi-final, this was a tense game of few chances. Josh Vaughan was in the right place at the right time again as he raced through to score and give the boys one hand on the trophy. However, they had learnt their lessons from the defensive lapses earlier in the tournament and were determined not to let it happen again. The boys parked the proverbial bus at the back, with Paddy McGlinchey and Zak Halsall forming an impregnable barrier. The last few minutes were agonizing, but the whistle finally blew and the boys were ecstatic! Against all the odds the boys from Malaysia, who had played in Division 2 all season, were now the Singapore International Schools Division 1 Champions! The proud champions collected their medals and the trophy, which the College will keep until next year. Those nine boys, and weparents who were privileged enough to be there to witness it,will never forget the day when we went to Singapore and came home with the trophy.
Many congratulations to the following boys:
Edward Myles, Zak Halsall, Oliver Medcraft, Sammy Patten, Alfie Sanosi, Alfie Tomlinson, Paddy McGlinchey, Josh Vaughan, Otto Kottegoda-Breden.
Acting Coach, U9A Boys football ACSIS Champions 2014