ESFA Super League 2019/2020 season review- 20/21 Draws are live!

With the ESFA Super League Draws for the 2021/22 season going live last week, we are looking back at the 2019/20 campaign in anticipation for the competitions return!

The ESFA U18 Super League is the newest Schools’ Cup competition offered by the ESFA. Introduced for the 2019/20 season, it is designed for those schools, colleges and sixth forms which offer a football academy or development programme. The creation of this competition was based on a decision to widen the U18 offering and ensure that students who benefit from regular football training, strength and conditioning and analytics sessions could be included in the competition portfolio.

The Inaugural Super League Season was a huge success, despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic. The group stages kicked off in September with regional groups battling it out for the top two spots and a place in the knockout rounds. On the men’s side, some favourites were quickly established with Park View School dominating the North east region scoring 29 goals along the way and conceding just 9. Wilson’s School were the highest scoring team in the group stage, with 31 goals, however still coming second in their group to a strong Harris City Academy Crystal Palace side. In the women’s competition the ESFA saw some teams shining through early, including Gateshead College, Thomas Telford School and Hartpury College, who kept their sheets sparkling clean going into the knockout stage.

The knockout rounds started after the Christmas break and the competition was heating up, with a spot in the final the goal for the remaining teams. A tight battle in the north saw Park View School scrape through on penalties against a strong Ashton-On-Mersey side, whilst down south, JMA fought off a strong Worthing College team to secure their spot in the semi final. Unfortunately the women’s competition was cut short due to the pandemic and the suspension of schools’ football in March 2020. Thomas Telford School had battled their way to a semi-final clash with Gateshead College whilst three teams remained in the bottom half of the draw, Barking Abbey Academy, St Joseph’s College and John Madejski Academy. It will be interesting to seeing how these teams progress in this season’s competition, to see who will be crowned as the first ESFA Women’s Super League Champions.

On the men’s side, John Madejski Academy booked their place in the final with a win over SEEVIC College and Park View triumphed over a strong Millfield School team in the first featured ESFA Super League match. You can watch the highlights of this semi final here.

The inaugural Men’s U18 Super League Final took place at St Andrews Stadium, home of Birmingham City FC, and saw Park View School take on John Madejski Acadmey. JMA came away winners on the day being crowned the first ever Men’s U18 Super League Champions. The full match report can be viewed here and the match replay is available to watch here.

The ESFA has been delighted with the feedback received from participants in the first year of the competition.

Mr Gamble from Park View School said “We were very impressed with the organisation and professionalism of the tournament. Although COVID had a big impact on spectators, the final itself was a brilliant occasion for our School / Sports Academy. We had over 1000 pupils watching the live stream which was brilliant for our players who were like superstars in the school.”

We cannot wait for the ESFA Super League to get back underway next season and see the best schools’ football teams from around the country battling it out! Check out this year’s groups and fixtures here.

featured, Match Reports

Throwback Thursday- October Floodgates Open!

With the national cup draws for next season now live we take another look back to the 2019-2020 season when October provided an absolute goal feast on our travels.

What would end with a crazy 4 game multi train journey around England started relatively close to home with a Friday double header at Perton school in Wolverhampton with games against Priory School in both the U12 and U13 Small Schools Cup.

It was one win each at the final whistles with goals galore, Perton’s U12 side winning 7-1 while the attack minded Priory U13 team hit a dozen to win through to round two.

The goals showed no signs of drying up early the following week as Wolverhampton Grammar School and Wrekin College shared SIXTEEN goals in a crazy game with the Shropshire school winning 9-7 to progress in the U13 Small Schools Cup!

Then followed our first cup upset as Thomas Telford fell to St Peter’s Catholic School in Solihull, despite battling back from 4-1 down to get back in the tie at 4-3 it was the home side who held their nerve to edge into round two of the U16 Elite Cup.

That week ended with a drive to Rugby as Moulton School were the visitors to Harris CofE Academy and they returned to Northampton with a 2-0 win in a wet U12 round two matchup.

The weather had not improved much by Monday as a train ride to Hereford saw St Mary’s RC High School host crosstown rivals Whitecross in the U14 Boys competition with a penalty shoot-out needed to decide the winner after a tense 1-1 draw, the visitors taking the spoils 2-0 on spot-kicks.

The following day saw me walk to a cup tie just 3 miles or so away, Ormiston Forge and Kenilworth School going toe to toe in the U12 Boys Cup but the visitors put on a blistering display of attacking football in the opening half to take a 4-0 lead which they held for the remainder of the game.

A double header in Shrewsbury followed with Shrewsbury School winning 8-2 at home to Staffordshire’s Blessed William Howard School in the U14 Boys Cup and then a walk across the River Severn took us to Belvidere School as they held on for a 3-2 win at home to Smestow School in the U16 Boys.

Up next was a trip to Sandwell Academy in the U18 Boys Cup as they won 3-1 at home to Kingsmead School and move into round three and the following day we saw Madeley Academy overcome Whitecross Hereford in the Girls U14 Cup with a 5-1 win in the afternoon sunshine.

That Friday feeling came in the way of a soaking wet U13 Boys tie in Liverpool with the game in doubt due to heavy rain all afternoon but credit to both sides for putting on a show as Maricourt Catholic High School hit 9 on the road to defeat St Hilda’s CofE High School.

Monday morning saw us set off on the biggest trip so far as we headed for a 4 day, 4 game trip here, there and everywhere!

We kicked off with a train to London and in the shadow of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament it was St John’s from Enfield who progressed in the U13 Small Schools Cup with a 6-0 win over a valiant Oasis Academy South Bank side who battled throughout against a tough opponent.

Then we had a long overnight train ride to Cornwall on the sleeper train although the carriage became a drying station for my clothes and camera gear as we trundled through the darkness!

Rain greeted our arrival into Penzance but the howling wind and rain could not prevent the Cape Cornwall and Plymouth School of Creative Arts tie taking place and it was the home side who progressed into the U15 Small Schools Cup on the back of a 4-0 win.

Back on the sleeper train to London we went and then onto Norwich next morning for a trip to Wymondham College and their U18 Boys Cup tie with Thurston Community College which ended in a 5-2 win for the home side and a place in round three.

Our final train ride of the month saw us venture into Lincolnshire with Carre’s Grammar School our destination as they hosted Healing Science Academy in round two of the U13 Boys Cup with the home side 7-0 winners courtesy of some excellent long range strikes that put them firmly in control in the opening half.

What a month, a staggering 16 games and 110 goals in total – this would be the biggest goals per game ratio of the whole season and only in the second month of matches and without doubt the most miles I have travelled in one month for schools football.

I can’t wait to get started again in September…!

A huge thank you to our official photographer Garry Griffiths for writing this report and travelling around the country to provide amazing coverage of schools football. If you would like to view or purchase any of the pictures in this report please contact ThreeFiveThree photography.