When I wrote my note on the 2nd January reflecting on the first half of the season and wishing you all a happy new year I could not have envisaged that we would be unable to complete the season and not be able to celebrate it at our dinner and presentation evening.
Football apart my first consideration is that all members have managed to keep well, avoided infection and that members and their families are coping during these most difficult of times.
As most of you will be aware as a consequence of the pandemic the FA (our football governing body) announced at the end of March that all leagues below national level would end with immediate effect. The Southern Amateur League had no choice but to follow this directive and member clubs voted to completely null and void this seasons (19/20) competition. The decision with regard the Southern Amateur League and Amateur Football Alliance Cups has still to be made but as we have an interest in the AFA Senior Cup for the first time in 29 years one sincerely hopes that we will have the opportunity to play this match. Unfortunately both the 5th and 6th teams were probably denied the honour of winning their respective divisions as a result of the abandonment of the league competition, This leads me on to a brief resume of the season. The situation of the Club's teams at the closure was as follows:
Team P W D L GF GA GD Position.
1st 11 2 2 7 15 20 -5 10th of 11
Res 12 6 1 5 36 35 1 3rd of 8
4th 10 7 1 2 39 19 20 3rd of 10
5th 13 10 0 3 58 31 27 1st of 8
6th 15 10 1 4 47 27 20 1st of 8
7th 13 6 1 6 32 31 1 4th of 8
The 1st XI who returned to the top division of the SAL following their magnificent 18/19 season in the second division found things somewhat more difficult at the higher level and as is borne out by their goal difference unfortunately lost games by the odd goal. However they did have games in hand and were confident of consolidating their senior division status. They were to a certain extent victims of their own success in getting behind with their league fixtures having reached the final of the AFA Senior Cup beating Old Meadonians 3-1 in the semi final on the last day of play on March 14th. This has been a terrific performance to secure our first appearance in this prestigious competition since we were the winners in 1990/1. Our opponents will be either Polytechnic or Nottsborough. To compliment this they have also reached the final of the Middlesex FA Intermediate Cup where they are due to play Hilltop FC. It is hoped that both these finals will be played, conditions allowing, at the beginning of next season. In the AFA Middx/Essex Cup they lost to Old Garchonians and in the SAL Senior Cup were beaten in the third round by Bank of England, Club Captain, Jack Robery, our very consistent keeper is making a speciality of making vital saves in penalty shoot outs. Jake Lawrence led the side by example and great energy and the boys played well.
Also many thanks and congratulations to our coaches Gary Hallowell and Gary Casey for their time and dedication.
The Reserves coached by Charlie Casey, part of the Casey dynasty, including brother George and captained by Jake Grant were always a good watch. Although they were not as successful in the second half of the season they may well have attained promotion which they seemed eager to push for. After starting the season as the 3's and taking on the challenge of becoming our reserves, an accomplishment to step up, should be admired. Charlie was keen to get the side promoted and wanted his side in the top intermediate division.
In the cups they were beaten by Old Parks in the second round of the SAL Intermediate Cup, NUFC Oilers in the third round of the AFA Intermediate Cup and Old Manorians in the Middx/Essex Intermediate Cup.
The 4th XI skippered by the versatile and long standing member Dan Cutting had a good competitive season and with eight league games remaining were also in with a shout of promotion having only been beaten twice in the league. They also did very well in their cups being knocked out of the SAL Minor Cup 3-1 by Old Parks in the quarter final and are to be congratulated on reaching the final of the AFA Minor Cup where in a very close game they were beaten 3-2 by Shene Old Grammarians 3's in extra time.
The 5th X1 captained by Bobby Lopez were riding high and with one game to play in their division were likely champions having scored 74 goals in their league and cup matches. In their SAL Cup they lost in the quarter final to Old Lyonians 6-4 and in their AFA Cup lost to Old Meadonians. A special mention and congratulations should go to young Marco Koaba who netted a phenomenal 49 goals during the season, which may be a Club record.
The 6th XI led by seasoned campaigner Paul Michael were also enjoying an excellent season and with 6 games remaining were top of their division. In their cups they did not meet with the same success being eliminated in the first rounds by HSBC ((SAL) 4-2 and Old Meadonians (AFA) 3-2.
The 7th XI skippered by the ever enthusiastic Darren Roberts enjoyed another competitive and sociable season in what is quite a strong division. Although a number of the squad are not as fast as they once were they show great spirit and would have finished mid table. In their SAL Cup they failed to reach the knock out stage by one point.
The Youth section once again thrived with the U 11's reaching their League Cup Final and the U 16's, U13's and U 12 Blues all had very competitive seasons and all stood a great chance of winning their relevant leagues. A very big thank you goes to Chairman Ben Collier, to all of the Coaches and Parents who work hard to provide this wonderful facility. Also a special thank you to George Fletcher who stepped in to take on the U 8's when their coach left in October. George recruited and guided the team to being extremely competitive. Also worth mentioning is that former Norsemen Youth player Malachi Fagan-Walcott made his first team debut for Spurs as a late substitute in the Champions League away match at RB Leipzig. Malachi played for Norsemen for four seasons until U 14's when his coach Nick Cornish took him over to Spurs. He is a regular player in the U 23 side and has also represented England at Youth level.
Last and by no means least my thanks go to our Committee Members, Chairmen Ronnie Robinson and Danny Green, Barry Ayers, Treasurer Chris Beveridge, Match Secretary Errol Ibrahim and Referee Secretary Matt Rogers for their time and commitment in making things work. Thanks to Steph for supplying the beer and to our kind Sponsors for their continued support.
Until we all are able to meet again my best wishes.
As we enter the second half of the 2019/20 season I feel it is an appropriate time to reflect on the first half.
The 1st team celebrated their return to the first division with a keenly fought draw against the old enemy, Winchmore Hill but then suffered four consecutive defeats, three by the odd goal and the fourth at the hands of high flying West Wickham where they managed to recover from 4 down to 4-3 only to lose 6-3. The losing streak ended on President's day where they had a comprehensive 5-0 win against EBOGS before a very appreciative audience. Since then they have won a further league game but the main success has been in the Cups. In the AFA Senior Cup they have reached the last 16 with wins over Latymer Old Boys and a fine performance against Actonians. They are also still engaged in the AFA Middx/Essex, Southern Amateur League and Middlesex County FA Intermediate Cups. With eleven league games to play it will be a very busy second half of the season so we wish Jack Robery (Club captain), Jake Lawrence (Team Captain) and the team Good Luck!
Unfortunately most of the Reserve team who gained promotion last season decided to leave the Club after a couple of matches into the new season but thankfully our 3rd XI, with many new members who we warmly welcome, stepped up to replace the Reserves and have won four of their five league games including winning a tremendous match against Bank of England 4-3, which may be the best match to be seen at home this season. They are still in the AFA and SAL Cups and thanks go to coach Charlie Casey and skipper Jake Grant.
As a result of the 3rd XI moving up we withdrew from the 3rd XI competition and our next side the 4th XI captained by Dan Cutting have won five and drawn one of their eight league games and are currently 3rd in their league. They are waiting to play the next round of their AFA Cup competition which has been delayed by the inclement weather. The 5th XI captained by Bobby Lopez have won five of their seven league matches, already scored 31 goals and are top of their division. Likewise the 6th XI skippered by Paul Michaels have won six, drawn one of their ten league matches, scoring 32 goals and also sit at the top of their division. The 7th XI captained by the evergreen Darren Roberts have won five of their seven league matches and despite having several 40th birthday parties during the season have kept focused. They are a blend of experience with a little bit of youth.
The Youth section continue to flourish and thanks go to Ben Collier, Danny Green, the coaches and parents who give their time up to make the Club a shining example of grass roots football.
Many thanks to our Committees, Chairmen Ronnie Robinson and Danny Green, our first team coaches Gary Hallowell and Gary Casey for their work on behalf of the well being of the Club.
May I wish all members a very happy and successful New Year and whether you win, lose or draw remember to enjoy yourselves.
A return to Hydeside this week on a beautiful Spring Day.We were playing the already relegated HSBC formerly Midland Bank who older readers will remember as a powerful club.Sadly all our business house clubs have problems some have left the league and others struggle due to lack of support from their owners.
The anticipated easy game did not turn out that way the Bank team looked motivated fit and determined whereas we quite naturally looked off the pace having already clinched the league title.After several missed chances we took the lead with an excellent header from a set piece just before halftime .In the second half the Bank had more of the play and scored an excellent equaliser with 5 minutes to go.
We have three games left two of which are against teams competing for the second promotion spot so it will be tough to finish the season unbeaten.
The reserves continued their bid for promotion with a good 5-2 win against Poly and the sevens split their doubleheader with Old Parks 2-1 being the score in both games
The first team travelled to the palatial Bank of England ground this week to take on a Bank side eager to dent our 100% record.They quickly built a 2-0 lead which we reduced by scoring just before half time. We equalised and took the lead within 20 minutes of the second half starting .We then conceded an equaliser from a powerful shot with 10 minutes to go. So no 100% record we have 4 games left it would be nice to go through a league season unbeaten. The first division has some very good teams so next season will be tough and a couple of good quality reinforcements wii be needed
In the other results the reserves lost 2-0 to West Wickham the fours lost 2-0 to Old Finchleians the sixes lost 4-1 to Old Lyonians and the sevens beat AP 4-2.We used to be very strong in the lower sides need for reinforcements urgent
The first team game was switched from AP to our ground due to weather conditions something that should happen more often to prevent fixture back logs.
We needed three points to clinch promotion and won 3-2 a great achievement with 5 games left and we only need another 1 to clinch the league title.
We have some tough games left but it would be fantastic to keep our 100% record for the whole season a feat which I am sure has never been achieved at first team level.
The reserves travelled to South London to play Alleyn OB and drew 2-2,the fours lost 4-0 to the Hill and the sevens beat EBOG 2-1
Trip to Actonians on Saturday for the first team on Saturday always a difficult game against a first division side who won the AFA Senior cup last season.We were joined on the line by a 1960’s Norsemen George Shipley over from his home in Boston USA where he follows our progress keenly,living up to my mantra of ‘’ Once a Norsemen always a Norsemen”.
We started slowly and conceded an unlucky goal after ten minutes when a huge deflection gave Jack no chance.We matched the Actonians for the rest of the half and were unlucky when we hit the bar and had another header cleared from the line.
We made bad start to the second half conceding after a couple of minutes then missed a penalty after which we held our own but did not really look like scoring so that’s the end of our cup ventures this season.
Back to the league this week away to Ally Pally depending on other results a win there could clinch the league with 5 games left to play.
I think the 4 tough cup games played recently have shown us that we can compete at a higher level but if we are to challenge at the top of the table we will need reinforcements and at least 2 good Subs on the bench for every game.
The reserves strengthened their promotion hopes with a good win 5-3 against Merton they look a good team for the future let’s hope we can sort out their administrative problems.
The fours who have some good players and should be higher in the league had a good win 3-2 away to Old Owens threes.
The sixes had a close game against Kings Park but lost 4-3, the sevens lost 4-1 to The all conquering Vamps sixes
Generally a good week the first team returned to league action after several weeks of postponements and cup games with a home game against Merton who are struggling in the league.
We ran out easy winners by 3-0.
As the season progresses our squad is getting thin and once again we had no substitutes this is going to cost us if it continues.
The reserves had an easy 6-1 win against Old Blues, the fourths staged a great fight back against EBOG thirds 3-0 down at half time we ran out 4-3 winners.
The fifths lost 5-0 to table topping Old Owens.
The sixth team did the same as the fours and came back from a 5-0 deficit to win 10-5 against 9 men and the sevens scored a good away win 4-0 against the Hill.
It is disappointing to hear that despite us providing excellent facilities we have members who are reluctant to pay their way who do they think provides the money to run the club
After a two week break due to weather we took on Division 1 leaders Polytechnic in the semi-final of the Middx/Essex AFA cup.
This was always going to be a tough game and the absence of our two main strikers did not make it any easier.
The pace of the game found us adrift in the first half and having survived most of the first half conceded a goal just before the interval.
In the second half we came more into the game and had several near misses but were unable to get the equaliser not helped by only having one half fit sub.
A couple of comments to make our behaviour on the pitch is now good they had one man sent off we did not this would not have happened last season so progress there.
To go to a match like this with virtually no subs is ridiculous whatever fixture the reserves had at least two players should have been promoted for this important fixture that’s how football works we are a Club after all not 6 different teams.
The rest of the results were poor with the reserves losing there unbeaten record to West Wickham third team regrettably we did not take our defeat well making the mistake of blaming the ref which never helps
The fours and sevens drew and the fifths lost.
Back to the league for the ones this week this is an important game we need to not suffer an anti climax after our cup ventures.
At the first sign of bad weather we immediately get a mass of postponements which included our first team away to Ally Pally.
We made a big effort and had two pitches available the reserves inflicted a good 4-1 victory against Previously unbeaten Broomfield ‘A’ who I think are there first team.
The fourths lost in the last minute in the cup but the sixes had a good win against the Hill.
Lets hope the weather improves so the first team can get back to league games as the next two Saturdays after that are both cup games
The first team returned to Hydeside on Saturday for their third cup game in succession this time facing a very strong Old Hamptonians side who had only lost once this season.
We had a couple of changes from last week and started the game cautiously but from one of our first attacks we took the lead but Hampton soon equalised.
There then followed the second half which was the best game seen at our ground for many years both sides were fully committed and the game played in good spirit after being 3-1 up we were pegged back to 3-3 and we scored the winner in the last minute.
We are now in the semi final of the AFA cup where we have drawn Polytechnic away on 16th Feb and the quarter final of the SAL cup away to Old Actonians on 23rd Feb
The rest of the games did not go as well with the reserves drawing 2-2 at Merton and the 5/6 and 7th all losing