Whalley Juniors U12s capped off an unprecedented season of success by competing in a prestigious U14s tournament in Holland…and winning!
Whalley, in their first season as a group,had already won the Accrington and District Saturday league after winning 19 and losing just one of their 22 league games and added to that success by winning a mini-tournament at Blackburn Rovers Academy last week.
However, the real icing on the cake came when they travelled to continental Europe to test their mettle against stiff opposition.
Firstly, the boys travelled to Aachen, Germany to prepare for the tournament and they duly beat local U12 side Eintracht Verlautenheide before moving on to the ROOD WIT 62 Cup in Eindhoven, Holland on Easter Sunday.
Despite the opposition being up to two years older than them, Whalley battled manfully against teams from both Holland and Belgium to win the tournament overall without conceding a single goal!
Among the sides Whalley defeated were FC Engelen. Brandevoort, Budel and tournament hosts Rood Wit.
Manager Barry Gregson, who formed the team at the start of the season, has praised the attitude of his team, calling them ‘a pleasure to manage’.
“We are so proud of the lad’s effort and commitment but also the way they conducted themselves on this overseas trip,” he said.
“To win the tournament with no substitutes and in an unfamiliar 11aside format is testament to how well the team played, and to not concede a single goal is just extraordinary.
The manager added that, whilst they had swept all before them domestically, European opposition posed an altogether different challenge but always had faith in the team’s quality.
“After beating the hosts and tournament favourites in the first game we started to believe that maybe an upset was on the cards.
“The day was blighted by injuries and at one stage we looked more like a field hospital than a football team, but having no subs meant we had to battle on.....and we did”.
George Ellison and Michael Dale were the top scorers in a side that scored a remarkable 117 goals this season, whilst Michael and Harry Wilkinson earned the most “Man of the Match” awards.
The team will round off their special season by competing against select Academy sides from Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Blackburn Rovers and Accrington Stanley at Ewood Park before switching to the 11-a-side format for next season.
Anyone interested in playing for the side should contact Barry Gregson on 01254 240384, 07874 089691 or firstname.lastname@example.org