Twenty local schools whittled down to just one to represent Orient at Football League Kids Cup regional finalsPrimary schools from across the local boroughs gathered for the Football League Kids Cup tournament at the SCORE Centre, Leyton. The Year Six teams were competing to represent Leyton Orient at the Regional Finals of this prestigious competition to be hosted by Portsmouth FC next month.
The event attracted a record number of teams with a total of 20 battling it out for the privilege to represent their local professional club. Previous national Kids Cup winners, Chase Lane from Chingford, were looking for a second success following their fruitful 2014 campaign, while Loyola from Epping and Chingford CofE were looking to stop the Chase Lane party!
Teams were split into four pools with the winner of each group gaining a semi-final place and a chance to progress to the area final.
The group fixtures saw some closely fought matches along with some great wins too. The first game of the day saw Burnt Mill get off to flying start beating George Mitchell 5-0, a score mirrored when Henry Moore played Curwen. And another high score was recorded with St. Joseph's four goal salvo without reply against Sybourn.
Another Chingford school, Yardley, didn't concede a single goal throughout their group games but drew three matches 0-0 whilst winning their other two 2-0 but unfortunately this was only good enough for them to come third in their mini league; a tough position for such a defensively strong team. Meanwhile, Chingford CofE won all of their group games as did Loyola; the only team other than Yardley to go without conceding a goal.
Once all the pool games were complete and after a short break, the semifinal places were announced with Chingford CofE drawn against Loyola and Burnt Mill facing Thorpe Hall.
Both games were tight affairs with some great football played by all teams, Loyola coming out on top against Chingford CofE with a close-fought 2-1 win while Burnt Mill and Thorpe Hall had to be decided by penalties after ending 0-0, Burnt Mill eventually succeeding 3-2 to clinch their place in the last game of the day.
Playing for the right to represent the O’s in the regional finals, it was Loyola who struck first only for Burnt Mill to equalise shortly after followed by the final whistle and the dreaded penalties with Loyola Prep clinching it 3-2 in what was deemed the best match of the tournament.
After being presented with their certificates and medals by Leyton Orient players Sam Ling and Jack Humphrey, their day didn't finish there! There was an added surprise for the two teams as they were told they were to be the pre-match flag bearers and the guard of honour at the Leyton Orient vs Oxford United match starting in half an hour!
However, no one went home empty handed as every team was awarded a Football League Kids Cup certificate plus 24 tickets per team for players, parents and coaches to watch the O’s play in the Matchroom Stadium, compliments of the football club.
So it will be Loyola Prep who now progress to the regional finals in March next year, hosted by Portsmouth FC and go in the hope of following in Chase Lanes footsteps by reaching, and claiming, the national Football League’s Kids Cup Trophy when the final is played at Wembley Stadium on Sky Bet Football League Two Play-Off weekend in May.
Howard Gould, club Community Liaison Officer said, “The prize offered by the Football League makes this competition incredible and actually being lucky enough to have experienced the whole thing with Chase Lane last year really does make me excited when the competition comes around again each season. The look on the player’s faces when you mention that there is a chance of playing at Wembley is wonderful and I sincerely wish Loyola Prep the best of luck at the regionals as personally, I’d love to do it all again!”
The road to Wembley continues…