Students and staff at St Mary’s College in Crosby are celebrating after football teams in two age groups reached the final of a prestigious national competition.
The college had never previously made it through to the last two of a national tournament, but this season both the under-12 and under-15 sides beat off the challenge of hundreds of rival schools to reach finals day of the English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) Small Schools’ Cup.
More than 6,000 teams entered the national cup competition which began in September last year, but the latter stages of the event – which should have been played in the spring – were delayed because of the national lockdown.
The finals were eventually played last term at Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire. Spectators were not permitted because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the matches were broadcast live with professional commentary on YouTube.
Two first-half goals from Scott Johnson and ‘Player of the Match’ winner Hayden Allmark – gave St Mary’s a 2-0 lead at the interval and despite their opponents scoring a goal in the second half, the Crosby school defended their lead to complete a famous victory.
Hopes were high for a dream double but sadly it was not to be. Despite putting in a spirited performance, the under-15s skippered by Anthony Parker lost 3-1 in their final to Buckswood School from East Sussex.
The St Mary’s goal was scored in the second half by Ben Jones and the ‘Player of the Match’ award went to his fellow St Mary’s forward Daniel Molloy.
St Mary’s College principal, Mike Kennedy, said: “The school has never reached a national football final before so it’s remarkable that we had two teams in the finals of this year’s prestigious ESFA event.
“It’s an incredible achievement and I’d like to pay tribute to the skills and hard work of all the players and staff members involved.
“Obviously for the under-12s to win their final was the icing on the cake, but what’s really important is that the two teams have helped St Mary’s to make its mark on football at national level for the first time,” said Mr Kennedy.
ESFA Chairman, Phil Harding, added: “Schools football is where young people develop knowledge alongside skills and values, and where players can be competitive, considerate and truly enjoy their football.
“Our national finals showcase these characteristics, but they are only possible with the hard work and dedication of a huge number of people who give freely of their time and expertise.”