GU14 Sparrows: Life's not Hollywood; it's Cricklewood!
By John Woods
Girls U14 Sparrows 1 - 0 Hampstead & Westminster GU14 (A)
Before the game, players were dropping like flies. It felt like this was going the way of an Agatha Christie play. Would it be 'And Then There Were None'? The call went out, and a few Falcons flew in, along with two fledgling players. The Sparrows now had a team but still no GK.
The trek to Cricklewood crackled with tension. It was going to be a big ask. On a bright sunny day, as the players lined up, you could see the look of determination on their faces. Probably the look that Sir Roger Bannister gave as a schoolboy when running around these same fields. If Hampstead & Westminster were going to win, it would have to be hard fought.
Hampstead & Westminster went looking to put a cricket score on Surbiton from the start. In all areas of the pitch, Surbiton met Hampstead & Westminster with fierce resistance. After no breakthrough, Surbiton sensed Hampstead & Westminster were having doubts, and Surbiton attacked. Hampstead & Westminster stayed strong. India L started to get the better of their LB and put some crosses into the D for Imogen W. But Hampstead & Westminster's half-backs snuffed out any faint flicker of hope. The first half was heading for a stalemate. Then Emma S broke clear on the left. She put a delightful ball into space in the D. Imogen W found herself alone - she had finally lost her shadow. With back to goal, she swept the ball a glancing blow and into the net it went, right on the stroke of half time. Half time reached and still not breached. And against all the odds, 1-0 to the good.
Coach Quinny reminded his players that there was a long way to go. They still had to be on their mettle, and off they went out for another 30 mins. Could the Sparrows pull off a shock?
The second half started like the first. A few heart-in-the-mouth moments saw Hampstead & Westminster in space. But Charlotte P and Grace T made sure they came to nothing. Catriona and her younger sister, Keira, were always on standby to help. By now, Hampstead & Westminster players were getting tired. Surbiton Sparrows had a couple of opportunities with some short corners. But this game wasn't giving much away. Chances were few and far apart. It was a battle of attrition.
Emma S ran so hard that she finished the game with blisters on her feet. It was an unforgiving pitch. It was an unforgiving match! The 30 minutes were up. But still, no whistle! 5 'extra' mins ticked by slowly. The players stayed strong. The ref finally blew, and the Surbiton Sparrows knew they had a famous win. Hard work does pay off. Life's not Hollywood; it's Cricklewood.
FT Hampstead & Westminster 0 Surbiton Sparrows 1