Congratulations to the Cray Wanderers U11s Lions who have won the ESF UK Championship at St Georges Park against four of the top youth sides at their age group in the UK. Here a proud coach Steve Redman picks up the story on what was a great day for the boys and of course for England at the Three Lions Headquarters.
Cray Wanderers u11’s have just returned UK Champions following their tournament win at St Georges Park. the home of England’s football team. In scorching heat, the u11’s were 4 games away from becoming champions of the UK. They were up against tournament winners across the Country. Sides from Essex, Peterborough, Liverpool and Manchester so it was always going to be tough. Last years UK Champions were also present.
Cray Wanderers 3-0 Bispham
The 1st game kicked off in beautiful sunshine on the David Beckham pitch, cheered on by their parents and Cray were soon into their stride. Kaya and Rashaard drawing saves from the keeper. Cray were then awarded a free kick outside the box and Oliver Perkins stepped up to find the top of the net with a curling free-kick. Oliver was at it again shortly after half time when he waltzed down the wing before cutting inside to drill a shot into the bottom corner. Cray were in control and the win was capped off when Callum Redman crashed a volley against the bar before Kaya tapped home. A good start against the team from Manchester.
Cray Wanderers 2-0 Gidea Park FC
No let up in the heat, this sun was with us for the day. Plenty of water onboard. The game was tight, keeper George Poole had to be alert on a couple occasions before the break to clear his lines. The game was all square at half time. Manager Steve Owen made some changes and soon enough Ben Cook got brought down for a penalty, up stepped Rashaard Drysdale to find the bottom corner. Andy Dzontoh, Zuriel Elueme and Heath Cole-Goodwin were resolute at the back before the team from Essex gifted Cray a 2nd with an unfortunate own goal.
Cray Wanderers 1-1 Kirby
This was always going to be the most difficult game – both teams had won their previous games and were dead level in the league table format. The team from Liverpool were previously called Lydiate FC and were the 2017 UK Champions and haven’t lost a game for 2 years. Cray were on the front foot, dominating and Rashaard and Joseph McCullum both went close. Kirby resorted to a long ball game and the defence and goalkeeper George had to be on their guard. Kirby won a corner just before half time and took the lead with a header. Cray begun the 2nd half on top and had great chances with Jack, Rashaard and Joseph going close. The equaliser came when Joseph’s cross was turned in by a Kirby defender. Cray pushed for the winner but to no avail.
Cray 7-0 Peterborough
With the league table even on goal difference between Kirby and Cray Wanderers, Cray needed to win by 1 more goal than Kirby to be crowned champions. Both games kicking off at the same time. Manager Steve Owen rang the changes, played 2 at the back, pushed wing backs forward and played 2 up front – a bold move but goals were vital. Cray started on fire, Ben Cook scoring twice in the first few minutes. Oliver added 2 more before Ben Cook completed his hat trick before half time. Unbelievable stuff considering this Peterborough team were Champions of their region – the attacking formation was working. Kirby were winning 1-0 at half time so Cray were back in the driving seat. The 2nd half began, Oliver completed his hat trick before Kaya added the 7th. The game was over and it was confirmed that Kirby won 2-0 so Cray were crowned u11 Champions for the UK!!!!
The presentations were concluded on the David Beckham pitch, the kids and parents celebrated with more photo’s and a thoroughly enjoyable tournament was concluded. “The trophy is coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming……”
England then topped off a day that these u11’s will remember for the rest of their lives. What better place to be than England’s training ground. on the day when England reached a World Cup Semi Final for only their 3rd time in their history.
Squad; George Poole, Zuriel Elueme, Callum Redman, Andy Dzontoh, Oliver Perkins, Kaya Mahmut Jack Butcher, Ben Cook, Kieran Fowler, Joseph McCullum, Rashaard Drysdale and Heath Cole-Goodwin