ANDY Buckingham is just one win away from guiding England Under 18s Schoolboys to glory - and he can do it on ‘home’ soil at Ewood Park.
The Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School teacher’s two-year tenure as national boss comes to end soon after the final Centenary Shield match with Scotland on Friday (ko 7pm).
England currently lead the table with seven points having beaten Wales and Northern Ireland and battling out a 3-3 draw with Republic of Ireland.
And winning the Shield at the home of Blackburn Rovers would be a fitting finale for Londoner Buckingham who swapped the East End for East Lancs 24 years ago. “Sadly, this game will be one of my last as manager and I am pleased that it is being held in my adopted home of Blackburn,” said Buckingham, a geography teacher at the Blackburn school.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time with England, it has been incredible “To represent your country, either as a player or a manager, is a great honour.”
Buckingham has been part of the national set up for more than a decade – serving as assistant for two years before taking up the manager’s role.
He moved to Blackburn in the early 1990s and soon got involved with the Blackburn Town team – an association that lasted until just a few years ago.
So it wil be fitting that Accrington Stanley player James Beattie – former QEGS pupil and town team player Buckingham worked with – will be guest of honour.
“I’ve know James for a long time and worked with him at school and in the town team set up so it is great that he is coming to the game,” added Buckingham.
“Blackburn Rovers have also been very supportive and it is great honour to be able to play at Ewood Park.”
England Under 18s Schoolboys – which include former Ribblesdale High School pupil Charlie Russell is in the 19-man squad – kicked off the campaign with a 2-1 win against Wales then drew 3-3 with Republic of Ireland having led 3-1 at one stage.
But they hit back with an impressive 5-2 win against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
“This leaves us with seven points from three games and a draw against Scotland could be enough to secure the Centenary Shield,” said Buckingham. “But a win will make us uncatchable. It should be a cracking game.”
n Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions and are available now from the Roverstore (Ewood), Oneroverstore (Blackburn town centre), www.onerovers.co.uk website or by calling the Ticket Office on 0871 222 1444.