The success of our local adult teams along the Coast has been well documented with season's to remember for Blackpool FC, Fleetwood Town FC, Blackpool Wren Rovers FC, Poulton Town FC, Thornton Cleveleys FC and Lytham Town FC. This has extended to local junior side YMCA FC who initially won the Junior version of the Lancashire Cup before being the first ever local side to become Northern England County Champions. This Sunday (9th) they will be representing Northern England at Derby County FC's Pride Park ground as they attempt to become Champions of England. Best of luck YMCA.
YMCA – Northern England County Champions.
Local junior side YMCA – already Champions of Lancashire, last week represented the County in the Northern England Regional Finals in Manchester. Here, there were the best teams from every County in the North of England and Isle of Man. YMCA did Lancashire and the Fylde Coast proud by becoming the first ever side from the Blackpool and District Youth League to win these Finals and they now carry the title of – Northern England County Champions.
They will now go on to represent the North of England at Pride Park, home to Derby County Football Club on Sunday 9th May, with the chance of becoming English Champions. After winning their Lancashire Cup back in March against Culcheth Athletic from Warrington YMCA went in to this tournament knowing that only the best teams from their Counties would be there and therefore every team would be of a high standard.
The Counties being represented were, Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Durham, East Riding, Isle of Man, Liverpool, Manchester, North Riding, Northumberland, Sheffield & Hallamshire and Westmorland. In the first game YMCA came up against Sheffield United Junior Blades. YM were superb and Jack Crawford gave YM the lead with a superb strike from 30 yards but with just 20 seconds left on the clock they gave a soft free kick away from which Sheffield equalised.
YMCA then came up against Pirelli Juniors from Cumberland. In a close contest Aiden Atchison scored YMs winner after some neat work down the right from Conah Bishop. In the final group game YMCA came up against Teeside Athletic from North Riding. Despite being on top in this game they couldnt capitalise and the game finished 0-0. This left YMCA top of the group with Sheffield Junior Blades and Pirelli Juniors still to play. Sheffield won 1-0 which meant that the YMCA and Sheffield Junior Blades had to have a penalty shoot out to see who progressed in to the semi final. In a nervous shoot out Aiden Atchison, Johnny Airey, James Rowley and Conah Bishop all scored but the hero was keeper James Lawrance, he pulled off two top class saves to ensure a shoot out victory.
The semi finals came upon us and while the sun was beaming down as it had been all day, two excellent footballing sides took to the pitch. YMCA and Hessle Sporting from East Riding produced some excellent football throughout. YM took the lead with when a Conah Bishop corner was headed home by Bradley Garner. Hessle then equalised but with 5 minutes to go Aiden Atchison scored one of his most important goals for the club with a well taken lob which was enough to send YMCA in to the final.
Getting to the final of such a high profile tournament was a massive achievment, but YMCA were not content with just getting to the final, they were there to win it. They put in a superb performance against Netherley Wood Lane Legion, from Liverpool. YMCA played again some of the best football seen on the day and it was no surprise when captain Carl Kennedy was on hand to fire the ball home after the keeper had spilled the ball. With a minute to go and YM cruising a defensive error let the tricky left winger for Liverpool in and he equalised sending the game in to extra time. Aiden Atchison somehow had a perfectly legitimate goal disallowed, this spurred YMCA on to go for victory. Russel Townsend was hauled down giving YMCA a penalty and upstepped Aiden Atchison. He slotted the ball in to the bottom left hand corner sending the YMCA players in to huge celebrations as they held on for victory.
With the YMCA now crowned as Northern England Champions, former footballer Clayton Blackmore and England womens footballer Sue Smith presented the players with their medals.
Keeper James Lawrance was also named goalkeeper of the tournament, after pulling off two superb saves in the penalty shoot out and and also an excellent double save in the semi final. YMCA will now go on to represent the North of England this Sunday 9th May at Pride Park for the chance to become champions of England. We wish them the best of luck
Some names I'm sure we'll see playing Saturday and Sunday football in the future.