After a thrilling end-to-end final, the sportswomen of Melcombe primary pipped a feisty, combative team from St Stephen’s to raise the 2019 girls’ Mayor’s Cup aloft.
The primary school from Fulham Palace Road in Hammersmith – currently rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – were victorious in Hammersmith & Fulham’s primary schools football tournament, the longest-running competition of its kind in the capital.
The win also represented a personal triumph for Melcombe’s exciting number nine, Patience Ferguson, a 10-year-old whose instinct in front of goal will surely mark her out as one for the scouts and talent-spotters to monitor.
“Yes, I want to be a footballer when I grow up,” said the diminutive striker from Year 5, who not only scored both goals in the girls’ final (the boys’ event will be staged on March 15), but netted a staggering 27 of the 29 goals that Melcombe scored throughout this season’s competition!
Patience, who is an avid Chelsea fan, made the match safe seven seconds into stoppage time at the end of the 20-minute game, played under overcast skies on the all-weather pitches at Ravenscourt Park, with a magnificent lob that sailed over the St Stephen’s keeper to nestle in the back of the net.
“I just looked up and thought I’d go for it… and it went in,” she said, after receiving her winner’s medal from Calum Fairley, borough school sports and games organiser.
Calum was delighted about the sporting spirit in which the tournament, and the finals, were played, overcoming earlier backlog problems caused by bad-weather disruption. “It was a wonderful competition, played in a good atmosphere, with the standard of football getting better and better every year,” he said, adding special thanks to the referees, supplied by the QPR in the Community Trust.
Now Melcombe will represent Hammersmith & Fulham at the London Youth Games, to be staged at the end of March at the National Sports Centre in Crystal Place.
Road to finals
The afternoon began with the quarter-finals. Addison beat Good Shepherd 3-0, despite some excellent saves from the Good Shepherd goalie, cheered on by the most vocal supporters at pitchside.
In the battle of the Johns, St John’s were pipped 3-0 on penalties by Sir John Lillie after their quarter-final had ended goalless… although St John’s could consider themselves unlucky having hit both post and crossbar in the second half of normal time.
The quarter-final between Old Oak and St Stephen’s also ended in gridlock, 1-1, and was settled by spot kicks. St Stephen’s eased through to the semis 2-1 after a tightly fought contest.
The fourth quarter-final pitched Holy Cross against Melcombe. Melcombe were 1-0 up at half-time, with goal-line technology (the ref’s eyesight) ruling out a Holy Cross equaliser. A second goal from Melcombe, wearing red and blue stripes reminiscent of Barcelona, clinched the tie.
In the semis, Addison were beaten 2-1 by St Stephen’s Church of England primary, from Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, after Temi, a netball star and long-throw specialist, hurled the ball into the opposition area where it brushed the keeper’s glove and flew in with 10 seconds of the game remaining. On the second pitch, Melcombe eased past Sir John Lillie 2-1.
So to the final, the culmination of 150 Mayor’s Cup matches, with Melcombe, losing semi-finalists in last year’s tournament, facing one of last year’s losing quarter-finalists, St Stephen’s.
The St Stephen’s squad, made up of four girls from Year 6, three from Year 5, one from Year 4 and one from Year 3, were hitting top form in footballing terms, and in sporting spirit.
Applauded by their coach Alastair Park, the girls had taken time out to walk across to their tearful defeated semi-final opponents from Addison, to put consoling arms round their rivals.
A long-range free kick from Melcombe number 9 Patience, broke the first-half deadlock, teeing up a ferocious fightback from St Stephen’s in the second half. But the frantic, end-to-end battle was won in stoppage time, as Patience lobbed the St Stephen’s keeper to make it 2-0.
“You should all be proud of yourselves,” said ref Eddie Grace to both teams at the final whistle.
Delighted Melcombe coach Dan Grech, wearing a fetching set of animal ears on the touchline, admitted: “I was trying hard not to scream at the end.”
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