Following the ESFA National Cup live draws, we take a look back at some of the best ESFA schools’ cup fixtures from over the winter period, all captured by the ESFA’s official photographer Garry Griffiths from 353 Photography.
It is safe to say there were plenty of challenges this winter with fog, rain, snow and pigeons causing disruption to schools’ football, although watching the World Cup while on a train heading to matches had my brain thinking it was summer!
Opening days of the World Cup saw a sunny day in the Lakes as West Lakes Academy pushed Montgomery High School all the way, before a trip to Burnley College in the Men’s U18 Super League group stages; as Rossall School travelled across Lancashire for a hard fought and entertaining 2-2 draw.
A dominating win for Dr Challoners Grammar School saw some excellent goals despite the awful weather, while wins for Rainford High and Market Bosworth School saw progress for two girls’ teams that appeared in Monday’s live draws.
The fog encountered at Wickersley earlier in the month reappeared for Ormiston Shelfield’s win at Thomas Telford, while Didcot Girls’ School won at home in the sunshine just 24 hours later as we ended the month with four, excellent girls’ cup ties.
December saw a short month as the Christmas break combined with some awful weather, putting best laid plans on the back burner. The steep hill-climb to Chesham Grammar School was worth the effort though, as Ashlyns School edged past their hosts in extra time to progress in the U12 PlayStation Schools’ Cup for Girls.
Clifton High School also bagged a late winner in a dramatic tie with Akeley Wood. Northampton School for Boys won a cracking tie at home to Wigston Academy, after clearing snow from the artificial surface to allow the game to go ahead.
Thomas Estley’s win over Sandwell Academy concluded the 2022 portion of the season, with a frosty pitch thawed nicely by the afternoon and sunshine prevailing, for an exciting game.
January saw a unique schools’ cup moment, as a pigeon attempted to take part in the Sir Bernard Lovell v Ivybridge U13 Boys Cup tie! Despite its best attempts to get involved in the game, the players on the pitch provided more than ample entertainment, with a dramatic late equaliser leading the visitors towards a penalty shoot out win.
A trip to Dorset was greeted by awful weather, as Bristol Free School knocked out Parkstone Grammar School in heavy rain. A u-turn in the weather a day later saw bright sunshine in the shadow of Twickenham for Cardinal Vaughan v King Edward VII. A dramatic injury time winner put the Norfolk side into the quarter finals.
The theme for the month of January has been penalties, with Wrekin College scoring two in their win over St Bedes. One late to take the tie to extra time and one early in extra time to win through.
Cardinal Heenan edged past Tytherington on spot kicks, as did Brooke House College at Repton School with a late penalty save for Brooke House ensuring the game went to extra time, on a cold afternoon in Derbyshire.
Hymers College won at St Mary’s on spot kicks to make it into the semi final draw of the U13 Small Schools Cup, in their first season entering the ESFA National Schools’ Cup. Another Small Schools’ Cup classic quarter final last week saw Repton Prep claim a last four spot in the U12 competition, after coming from 2-0 down to beat Ludlow CofE School.
Last week ended with Moulton School holding on for a narrow win at Alcester Grammar School for a quarter final place in today’s draws. Meanwhile, Thomas Telford’s U13 B team knocked out Cardinal Heenan in the quarter finals, to end the Liverpool side’s hopes of returning to the Hawthorns.
Some cracking football action seen up and down the country over the winter and we hope the sunshine arrives in time for the final stretch of matches, which will determine our finalists for 2022-2023!
A big thank you to 353 Photography for writing these reports and capturing so much ESFA Schools’ Cup action this month. If you would like 353 Photography to attend your Schools’ Cup fixture, please contact Jacob.Blades@schoolsfa.com
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.