In scorching sunshine, the Mayor’s Cup reached a thrilling climax this week with a new name engraved on the trophy awarded to Hammersmith & Fulham’s top primary school football team.
West London Free School of Cambridge Grove, Hammersmith, thumped All Saints of Fulham 4-0 in the boys’ final at White City’s Linford Christie stadium to lift the coveted silverware for the first time.
Meanwhile, Queen’s Manor primary from Lysia Street, Fulham, won the girls’ trophy after a tight 1-0 final victory over Flora Gardens primary from Brackenbury Village.
Presenting the trophies and individual medals, Cllr Trey Campbell-Simon, H&F Lead Member for Youth Advancement, revealed he’d not only attended Queen’s Manor as a youngster, but had been a goalie for the school team in the Mayor’s Cup!
Cllr Campbell-Simon added: “Well done to all participants. Big congratulations to my former primary school Queen’s Manor, as well as West London Free School for winning this year’s trophy. It was great to be invited – thank you for having me.”
Organiser Calum Fairley chose the artificial pitches by the running track at the Linford Christie stadium as a change of venue for a tournament played each year since the 1980s, making it the longest-running primary school football competition in the capital. “It’s a neutral ground, and it’s open and spacious,” he said.
Nearly 300 matches had taken place between borough primary schools in the months leading up to finals day on Tuesday, with coaches and staff from the QPR in the Community Trust refereeing the 20-minute, eight-a-side games.
Emma Whiteford, 18, was one of the officials. “We go into schools and run after-school clubs as well as covering all sports in PE as part of our community work,” she explained.
With one pitch being used by the boys teams and another the girls, a mix of school staff, parents and youngsters sweltered in the heat – using bottled water, sunhats and suncream to combat the temperature, following extra instructions dished out by Calum.
Boys in action
In the boys’ semis, West London Free surprised pre-tournament favourites Brackenbury primary with a display of grit and skill; the fluorescent yellows building a 3-0 halftime lead against the familiar red shirts of a team with a long, illustrious dominance of the competition. With no second-half goals, it was West London through to the final.
In the other semi, Holy Cross (in red) squared up to All Saints (in green), with All Saints keeper Jago Hamilton Green the hero, pulling off a magnificent point-blank second-half save to give the greens the edge after they had taken an early lead. The 1-0 result saw All Saints through to the final.
“I’ve always been a goalie,” said modest 10-year-old Jago after the game. “I just sort-of enjoy goalkeeping.”
Holy Cross won the third place play-off match, with Brackenbury pushed back into fourth place.
In the final, West London Free opened the scoring with an impressive volley, and led 2-0 at the interval, cheered on by a small army of girls from the school who chorused:
Two, four, six, eight,
Who do we appreciate?
Not the king, not the queen,
But West London’s football team!”
All Saints came close to replying, but luck wasn’t with them. Their best attack saw the ball ricochet off the post. West London Free turned the screw in the second half, with exciting No9 Raif Ceric, 11, scoring the pick of the goals with a rocket shot after weaving past defenders. It finished 4-0 to West London Free.
Girls in action
On the girls’ pitch, St Stephen’s lost to Flora Gardens (who had a big height advantage in defence) in the ‘north of the borough’ semi, but there was little to choose between the teams. Goalless at full time, it was settled with penalties... and even then it took five kicks from each side to decide a winner.
In the girls’ south-of-the-borough semi, Queen’s Manor (in orange) played St John’s Walham Green of Fulham (in red). It proved another tight game – goalless at the final whistle and still deadlocked after three minutes extra time.
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Queen’s Manor’s Vittoria Padovani, wearing glasses and measuring the same height as the crossbar, made two saves on the trot, each time tipping the ball over the goal, and was mobbed by her teammates at the end of the penalty shoot-out. “It’s my 10th birthday today,” said the proud keeper afterwards.
So, Queen’s Manor played Flora Gardens in the girls’ final, where an unfortunate own goal just before the final whistle saw Queen’s Manor triumph.
Cllr Campbell-Simon then did the honours with medals and cups.
“I played in this tournament when I was at Queen’s Manor,” he said. “I was the goalie. We didn’t win it, but it was good fun. It teaches you what the world of football is like. So today, it’s really dear to my heart to see Queen’s Manor’s girls win.”
Organiser Calum thanked the trio of QPR referees – Antonio, Bernard and Emma – and made a surprise presentation of an original participant’s medal from the early days of the Mayor’s Cup to Cllr Campbell-Simon. “Well done to all of you,” said Calum, addressing the winners and runners-up. “Getting to the finals is a great achievement – and the boys’ final match was one of the best I can remember.”
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