On Friday 7th December sixteen schools from across Merton competed in the Year 5/6 Best Team Football Competition held at Tooting and Mitcham FC. The schools had all qualified from their cluster round by finishing in the top four. Therefore, it was already a fantastic achievement for all those involved to reach this stage.
After a short briefing regarding rules, format of the day and most importantly our REFSPECT campaign all teams were ready and eager to go.
Bishop Gilpin, Liberty, William Morris and Poplar were all drawn in this pool. The first game saw Bishop Gilpin play Liberty. This game highlighted how close the tournament was going to be as both sides attacked and defended well but it was Bishop Gilpin who managed to come away with the points winning 1-0. The second game between William Morris and Poplar was even closer with both teams cancelling each other out to record a 0-0 draw. This opened the group up for the remaining games. Bishop Gilpin and Poplar could only draw against each other, which meant a win for Liberty against William Morris would secure a place in the top half of the draw. This match was end to end once again with Liberty going 2-0 up in the match. A spirited fightback from Bond could not break down a resolute Hillcross defence and they claimed top spot in the group.
- Bishop Gilpin
- William Morris
This group consisted of St John Fisher, Dundonald, Abbotsbury and Stanford. This was the tightest group of the morning session. St John Fisher started the group strongly by winning 1-0 against a solid Dundonald team. Cranmer showed they would be no pushovers by then winning convincingly against Stanford to make sure there was everything still to play for. St John Fisher were equally resolute and were hard to break down, conceding only one goal in the 3 games played, winning two and drawing one. The game of the Pool was between Cranmer and St John Fisher. There were plenty of chances, with both teams breaking through on several occasions, only to come up against some excellent goalkeeping and the woodwork. The teams could not be separated and an incredibly entertaining 1-1 draw was played out between the top two teams in the group.
- St John Fisher
The group consisted of Bond, Hillcross, Wimbledon Park and SS Peter and Paul. Bond and Hillcross played the opening game of the group, with Hillcross finishing off a wonderful move to scorer early before finally completing their win with the last kick of the game to take the points 2-0. SS Peter and Paul were looking good in the group after their opening 1-0 win against a talented Wimbledon Park squad. This was all before coming up against a strong Hillcross team who were showing theor attacking flair. This game was already looking like the group decider after impressive opening fixtures and there was nothing between the teams until Hillcross got two late goals to secure top spot. Wimbledon Park showed their class in their game against the group winners, Hillcross by storming to a 4-1 victory. Despite an early set back, Bond did not let their first game defeat phase them as they recorded a creditable draw with Wimbledon Park to finish the group stage.
- SS Peter and Paul
- Wimbledon Park
The group consisted of Abbotsbury, Lonesome, St Matthew’s and Wimbledon Chase. Unlike the other groups there was a clear winner here with St Matthew’s proving too strong for nearly all their opponents, winning two matches while Wimbledon Chase earned a deserved draw. Abbotsbury and Wimbledon Chase were both strong in defence and both goalkeeper made some excellent saves to keep the game goalless. Abbotsbury found their shooting boots and went on to win their remaining game 3-0 to keep the battle for second place alive. Lonesome played well as a team and continued to improve each game which gave them confidence going into the afternoon fixtures.
- St Matthew’s
- Wimbledon Chase
After a recap on REFSPECT and how well all the children had played during the morning sessions it was time for the afternoon event where teams either played for 9th-16th place of 1st to 8th depending on where they finished in their group.
All four pitches started quickly with teams eager to get the opening games to push for the higher seeding. All schools put everything into these games to get a result in normal time in order to avoid the dreaded penalty shootout. Fortunately, all pitches had a result with all the games being won by a single goal.
The next stage of fixtures saw even closer games. Abbotsbury played well as a team to overcome a strong Poplar side and take 14th seed into their final game. Dundonald and Wimbledon Park was decided on a penalty shootout, which saw nearly every player take a penalty each! Both teams kept finding the net before one heroic save meant Dundonald took 9th seed into the final game.
Bond and Lonesome recorded victories in their final games to take the higher of the two seeds. After a close and nail biting game Dundonald and Bond went to penalties. Again, Bond were victorious to take 9th seed.
1st – 8th
Convincing wins for St John Fisher and Cranmer put them both in strong contention for the favourites crown, although Hillcross and SS Peter and Paul were still pushing them as they managed to edge through in tight games, winning their games 1-0. The semi-finals saw two close victories for Cranmer and St John Fisher who won on penalties against SS Peter and Paul and Hillcross respectively. Meanwhile, Bishop Gilpin and Liberty won their fixtures to ensure they would meet in the 5th/6th playoff.
Wimbledon Chase came back after some disappointing results to finish on a high, winning 3-2 to claim 7th spot from St Matthew’s. Liberty, who played well throughout, took 5th spot after an enthralling game with a fine finish securing them a win on penalties. SS Peter and Paul and Hillcross battled for 3rd spot, with another game that could not produce a winner so we went to penalties. After both teams has scored all their penalties, SS Peter and Paul eventually emerged victorious during sudden death. The final was played in a magnificent spirit, both teams attacking with skill and flair while great team play and defending keeping the opposition out. Again, the game had to go with penalties and after a nail biting shootout, Cranmer held their nerve to claim the victory and crown of Merton Best Team Football Champions
- St John Fisher
- SS Peter and Paul
6 Bishop Gilpin
7 Wimbledon Chase
8 St Matthew’s
11 Wimbledon Park
16 William Morris
Huge congratulations to Cranmer for becoming Merton Champions for 2018. Also well done to our REFSPECT winners, jointly awarded to Wimbledon Chase and Cranmer, a fine example of positive sporting behaviours and spirit. The games were all played in a great spirit and everyone was onboard with the REFSPECT campaign which made it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Thank you to Tooting and Mitcham for hosting the event. Finally, a massive thank you to the exceptional sport leaders from Rutlish High School.