Who would have thought back in September that the football team from Kilham Primary School would be playing in a National Final? However, after a build-up through several different levels of tournaments, from local schools to the Midland championships, that is exactly what happened at the weekend.
Two buses left Kilham at 7am for the journey to the Premiership Champions ground – the King Power Stadium. At 10.30am the team walked through the players tunnel and out onto the Leicester City pitch – what an awesome arena!
There were 2 tournaments being played, so the pitch was divided into 4 for the 7-a-side games. Kilham were on pitches C and D and began by playing the Northern Finalists: Barkston Ash Primary. It was a nervous start and the opposition seemed to be on top, but the Kilham boys worked hard and were more dominant in the second half. However, no goals were scored in a 0-0 draw and not a bad start.
About 60 supporters had made the journey with the team. They moved onto pitch C for the second match, which was closest to the West Stand where the supporters were. They were in great voice and certainly helped the boys to a 3-0 victory against Shernold Primary (South-East Champions) with goals from Jack, Daniel and a goal-mouth scramble from Eddie.
Between matches Tom was interviewed on camera by Danone, the organising sponsors. The boys had to keep taking on plenty of water as the day was very warm. Eddie took a game as goalkeeper due to Alistair feeling sick; struggling a little with heat.
In the final pool match, the boys were against All Cannings who represented the South West – also on pitch C and again they dominated possession. Another win this time 1-0, scored by Daniel. So with a total of 7 points out of 9, a clean sheet and a goal difference of +4, they were runners-up of Pool B on goal difference.
With no break they were straight to the semi-final, which was back on pitch D and required a change of shirts; the opposition were also in red and white. Kilham wore their amber kit with the school name emblazoned on the front. Unfortunately despite holding possession well they were caught out and the opposition – the champions from Pool A – they slipped one past Alistair, the Kilham goalkeeper, spoiling his so far clean sheet. However, the boys did not panic and were rewarded soon after with a goal through Jack. With 1-1 at the end of full time and feeling quite weary by this time they started in earnest with extra time – still 1-1 at the turn around, but always looked like the threat of a goal, it eventually came from Ewan to give a 2-1 win and a place in the National Final.
So down to the last 2 teams – the FA cup final of U11 football! The other finalists were Barkston Ash Primary, who Kilham had played in the first match of the day. Coaches Elaine Atkinson and Wayne Overfield just asked the boys to enjoy the game and this settled the nerves and very quickly they gained possession and had the best of the play. The opposition however were not lying down and kept fighting back, goals eluded both sides, although at one point the ball did go in the back of the Barkston net, but the referee had already blown to speak to boys from both sides who were jostling for position in the box. The free kick was taken again by Kilham but with a different result – no goal. There were some great saves from both goalkeepers, but at the end of full-time and extra-time the teams had to move on to the lottery of penalties. Kilham took the first penalty, which was secured by Jack, then Riley with the second 2-2, however then things started to go a little tense as the goal keeper saved Kilham’s next penalty. The tension continued as Alistair saved the next, still 2-2. It was the best of 5 and the nerves got the best of the takers and finally after 2 more misses the boys had to settle to being the second best team on England to Barkston Ash Primary in the cruellest of deciders 3-2.
Elaine Atkinson the year 6 class teacher and coach said, ‘It has been an unbelievable dream, I have been watching this group of boys since they were in Year 2 – I knew they were something special. I cannot thank Wayne Overfield enough for supporting me with coaching them in the build-up and on the day, his knowledge and footballing experience has been invaluable.’
By the end of the day Mr England, the head teacher, was quite hoarse from all the vocal support, as were many of the parents and friends. He commented, “I would like to thank all the players and their families, and all the extra spectators, for their wonderful support – not just today but through the whole year. There was a real family atmosphere today which really shows what our school is about. Thank you also to Elaine Atkinson for coordinating the team through the year and to Wayne Overfield for his time organising training, practice matches and for his tactical knowledge. The boys have hopefully had an experience they will never forget and we are immensely proud, not only of their success but also of the sportsmanship they displayed. Well done boys!”
Kilham School would also like to publicly thank the sponsors of the coaches; Driffield, Bridlington and North Wolds Lions Clubs, The Horace Taylor Trust, Dave Harrison, Richard Zerny, and Kilham School Parents, Teachers and Friends Association. Without their financial support we would not have been able to travel as we did to the regional and national tournaments. Thank you.