Mr Butler and Mr Judge accompanied, two teams to play in the ISA North London 5-A-Side Football Competition. The boys battled heavy congestion on the motorway but finally made it to Enfield, Powerleague, playing outside on ‘walled’ 3G ‘astroturf’ courts.
This year there were a record number of entries, with the competition expanding from 28 to 32 teams. These teams were split in 4 leagues of 8, with each team playing 7 league fixtures. The top two teams in each league progressed to the quarter-finals. A band of Gateway parents braved the brisk conditions to urge on the teams.
The B team started well, winning their first match but in a league including 6 ’A’ teams they found subsequent matches very challenging. To their credit they battled hard and made it difficult for other teams to get the better of them. They won two matches, drew one and lost four matches, but were often in contention, losing by just the odd goal in several games. It was a great experience, helping them to develop as individuals and as a squad.
The A team found the going slightly easier and managed to win 5 matches without any real problems. Will SC_B and George C slotted and slammed home numerous goals with Harrison J in support. James B, Fred W and Henry G took turns to marshal the defence and were strong and energetic when keeping the opposition at bay.
It was local rivals, Griffin House, who presented the biggest challenge, in the league stages, punishing Gateway’s lapses in concentration by twice taking the lead, only for Gateway to claw their way back into the game. In the final seconds, of this match, Will SC-B scrambled the ball past the GH keeper to secure their 6th win and another hat-trick. This match was a timely wake up call, for Gateway, not to become complacent.
The team went on to top their league with a maximum 21pts, after a more convincing win in their final match.
In the quarter-finals they were very clinical with both their play and shooting, dispatching Portland Place 4-1 to earn a place in the semi-finals, against old adversaries Gatehouse.
At this point in the competition, having played well over an hour’s intensive football, the children’s fitness often becomes an increasingly important factor. The boys were impressive and they pinned Gatehouse back with their relentless pressure, finally winning the match 5-3 and a place in the final.
Nerves can often undermine a team’s performance in the final, but Gateway played with growing confidence. In a tense end to end match, Gateway created chance after chance bombarding the Maple Walk keeper. At the other end, Fred H had to pull off a string of important saves to keep Gateway from faltering. Eventually, after some slick passing and pinpoint shooting, the boys stormed to a convincing 5-1 victory.
During the day, this team had managed to score 50 goals and remained unbeaten in 10 matches, a tremendous achievement. The boys were thrilled to pick up their medals and the cup to the delight of watching parents, squad members and coaches! Gateway had retained the cup and progress to the National finals, in March, with the other semi-finalists.
Congratulations to all the boys for their effort, ability and sporting conduct; they were a credit to the school. Thanks also to King Alfred School for organising the day and allowing these teams the opportunity to play in such a fun competition.
A Squad: Fred H, James B, Fred W, Henry G, George C, Will St C-B, Harrison J
B Squad: Oscar V-B, Fraser J, Ollie B, Sam B, Hugh P, Alex C