Through winning local and regional tournaments, eight children from years five and six earned the right to represent West Ham at the Primary Stars Premier League national finals at the Molineux stadium, home to Wolves F.C. The boys set off on the team coach accompanied by their parents, Miss Brown and Mr Kitchener for the long journey to Wolverhampton to stay in a hotel that overlooked Wolverhampton racecourse.
There was a buzz of excitement in the air as the boys woke up and headed for the Molineux stadium. They knew the opposition would be tough as twenty schools representing each of the twenty Premier League clubs would be in attendance playing for the right to be called the best school team in the country.
The team, consisting of Henry, Mario, Ben, Arthur, Marli, Tristan, Isaiah and Yahhya began by running out through the tunnel for the opening ceremony with the West Ham flag held high. After a short wait, the first match would begin.
West Ham 2 – 0 Arsenal
The boys began their first game nervously with a few stray passes being intercepted by the opposition but some expert defending by Mario ensured that these early issues were dealt with. West Ham then became more confident and got a foothold in the game. Ben and Marli were needed to help with the defensive duties but it wasn’t long before a counter attack was sprung and the ball was fed to Arthur who created space in the Arsenal area and put the ball in the back of the net. West Ham were now in control of the game and soon added to their tally, this time Tristan getting a sight of goal and making no mistake. Isaiah and Yahhya were then brought on to the pitch to shore up the defence and saw out a 2-0 victory for West Ham.
During a lengthy wait due to other games being played, the boys went to see the Wolverhampton Wanderers dressing room where they were able to see the Premier League trophy.
West Ham 3 -0 Chelsea
The second game was a physical battle where the boys needed to dig deep. However, once again they were able to show their style of football, exploiting the wider areas of the pitch and causing issues for Chelsea. The West Ham players were piling on the pressure, with Ben making some excellent ground on the left side of the pitch. Within a few minutes, the deadlock was broken. Arthur once again creating enough space in the area with some excellent footwork and firing low into the bottom corner of the goal. A stunning strike from Tristan, who fired into the top corner on the half volley gave West Ham some breathing space. The boys wrapped up a convincing 3-0 win with a late counter attack as Tristan scored again. The boys were improving with each game and were playing with style and confidence.
West Ham 3 – 0 Tottenham
West Ham would now play their final London derby against Tottenham. Tottenham pressed early and struck the post. They put West Ham under pressure but these issues were dealt with by Mario who was commanding his area and the defence. Henry was also brought into action early on where he made an excellent save to push the ball out for a corner. Soon enough, West Ham struck back. Arthur played a low corner across the box, which was dummied by Yahhya and found by Tristan who put West Ham 1-0 up. Not long after, West Ham scored their best team goal of the game; some excellent teamwork on the right allowed for a low cross into the box that Yahhya bravely slid in for to make it 2-0. Mario then cleared from a Tottenham corner and found Yahhya who played an excellent pass to Tristan who made it 3-0.
West Ham 0 – 2 Brighton
Despite having played three and won three, the tough tournament format mean that only the winner of each group would progress to the semi-final stage. Elsewhere in the group, Brighton had won two games and drawn one meaning that the final group game would decide who progressed. West Ham started well, playing with their usual style that had worked so effectively. However, a series of long balls from the Brighton goalkeeper proved tough to deal with and eventually the ball fell kindly for the Brighton attacker who made it 1-0. West Ham tried to get back into the game and created opportunities to equalise but couldn’t find the back of the net. As they pushed forward during the closing minutes, desperate for an equaliser, Brighton broke once and doubled their lead. As the final whistle sounded, West Ham had been knocked out by Brighton who would go on to win the whole competition.
Overall it was an excellent couple of days for the children who thoroughly enjoyed an amazing experience. They performed incredibly well and everyone at Churchfields is proud of what they achieved. I am sure it won’t be long until we hear further success stories.