With the entries for 2021/22 now open, we’re going on our travels with ESFA photographer, Garry Griffiths (353 Photography), to relive the schools’ cup matches he covered in September 2020
We look back at the opening month of last season’s competitions as we covered almost all the compass points during some early round action – facing all the British weather could throw our way in the process!
Our opening venture was on Thursday 12th September as we headed South West to Bristol with Bradley Stoke winning 7-3 to ease into the second round of the Boys U13 competition at the expense of Priory Community School.
The following week saw a 4 game in 4 day spell, kicking off near Preston with Brownedge St Mary’s and All Hallows RC High School needing a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner of their U14 Small Schools Cup tie after a dramatic 3-3 draw. Brownedge won from the spot to reach round two.
Next day the trip across the North West to Greater Manchester with the Under 15 Small Schools Cup tie at Oldham Hulme Grammar School where the visiting St Bede’s College won 4-1 in a game that was much closer than the scoreline suggested.
After a few days in the North it was a train down to the capital for the first time this season for the Under 18 Boys tie between Glenthorne High School and Westminster School with the latter making their ESFA competition debut. An excellent tie saw the visitors edge through in the Surrey sunshine on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
The Under 16 Girls Cup was the focus the following day as a single goal saw one of the competition favourites, Blenheim High School, edge past Howard of Effingham 1-0 with a solitary second half goal the difference for the previous season’s Under 15 champions.
Then the weather took a turn for the worse as we headed to the Lake District the following week where West Lakes Academy and St Benedict’s RC High School battled torrential rain in the Boys Under 14 Cup with the game being played on the 3G at St Benedict’s.
The ‘hosts’ went through courtesy of a 5-2 win and everyone in attendance headed home for some dry clothes and a warm drink!
I had to head by train down to Preston for an overnight stay with camera gear and clothes spread across every inch of the hotel room in an attempt to dry out before next day making the trip to York, including a late diversion following some train issues, to see Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School edge past hosts Fulford School 2-1 in the Girls U13 Cup.
Next day it was another game in the Under 13 Girls Cup as Clitheroe Royal Grammar School hosted Colne Valley High School with the latter winning a penalty shoot-out to move into round 2 following on from a tense 0-0 draw.
I just had time to head home and sleep in my own bed before an early Friday start to jump on a train to London once more, this time down in the shadow of the Excel Centre as Bishop Thomas Grant travelled to Royal Docks Academy, winning 2-1 to claim a place in round three in the U15 Girls’ cup.
The last game of September had all the weather issues but none of the travel problems as a short bus ride from my house led me to Smestow School who took on Thomas Telford in the Under 18 Boys but despite a bright start it from the underdogs it was the Shropshire school who headed home with a second round berth following a 4-0 win in heavy rain.
A busy start to the season with some sunshine, some rain and plenty of excitement to boot…roll on September to do it all again!