Chase Lane Primary School from Chingford scooped the ultimate prize recently when they won the southern regional final of the Football League’s prestigious Kids Cup competition and they will be our guests at the game tomorrow to receive their trophy onn the pitch at half-time.
Representing Leyton Orient, the Year 6 school team will now play their counterparts from the northern region, Nottingham High Junior School representing Notts County, on the pitch at Wembley Stadium prior to the League One Play-Off final on Sunday May 25th.
To reach this stage, the team had already won the local area competition, beating off opposition from 12 other local schools which meant they had earned the right to represent the O’s for the chance to play at Wembley in the grand final.
“What a superb prize,” commented Howard Gould, Leyton Orient Community Liaison Officer, “and a fantastic incentive for the children. When I told the teams at the start of the area competition, there was an immediate buzz around the place. That seems a long time ago now and I really still can’t believe I’ll be standing on the pitch at Wembley, cheering Chase Lane on in a few week’s time!”
The regional finals were hosted at Swindon Town and so it was an early start for all, leaving at 6.45am for a 10.30am start and things didn’t begin too brightly, the team losing 2-1 to MK Dons, conceding a penalty in the last minute of the game. But things soon started to improve with consecutive wins over Gillingham (2-1), Walsall (1-0) and Swindon (2-0) followed by a 0-0 draw against Coventry City which was enough to take the team to the semi-finals as group runners-up against the other group winners, Peterborough.
In an extremely close fought game, the turning point came when a deflection off the referee fell nicely for Demaray Anyadike to shoot home from 12 yards, a 1-0 win and enough to reach the final.
In the other semi, Stevenage was taking on MK Dons who had won all their games in the group but a ‘golden goal’ secured the win for Stevenage.
The final was a close affair. “This was a great game,” continued Howard, “end to end stuff, and some tremendous goals from both teams. The skill factor was extremely high considering these were just school teams and not academies as such, so really enjoyable. And I couldn’t believe how nervous I was – being so close to winning but having no real control over what was happening!”
At full time and with the score at 2-2, the game went into five minutes of ‘golden goal’ before the dreaded penalties would come into play but half way through the period, a sweeping move from back to front ended up with Jayden Bennett crashing the ball into the top of the Stevenage net from 10 yards.
“Oh, I can’t explain the feeling, “said team coach Tyrone Hercules. “It’s just wonderful. So much emotion and the boys deserve it. We have been training really hard both before and after school and now we will play at Wembley. It’s totally unbelievable. A wonderful story and I’m so pleased for everybody – the players, the school, teachers and parents and of course Howard and Leyton Orient for making it possible.”
As well as the opportunity to play on the hallowed turf of Wembley, the winner’s prize includes an overnight stay at a Wembley hotel with dinner paid for followed by the Wembley Stadium tour on the morning of the match. Howard added, “It’s such a fantastic prize and the Football League should take a lot of credit for offering such an incredible opportunity for the children. The whole school has embraced the day and it’s a little surreal that ultimately they can soon be classed as the best Year 6 school team in the country!”
The team have been invited as guests of the club for the upcoming game tomorrow against Gillingham and will parade their Football league Kids Cup regional trophy during the half time break. We will of course, bring you a report on how they do in the grand final and wish them the best of luck.