DISAPPOINTMENTS suffered five years ago provided the springboard for Oakmoor School’s Year 11 footballers to enjoy their final season together.
David Oliver, the Bordon school’s head of PE, remembers well when the players – then in Year 7 – were top of the league and in the semi-final of the cup with just the last round of fixtures to play.
“Coincidentally, that was very close to the situation we found ourselves in this time as Year 11s,” he said.
“Unfortunately, back then, we found ourselves on the back to of two difficult losses, first to Bohunt in the league and then Salesian a week later in the cup.
“What could have been a wonderful first season fizzled into disappointment.
“After losing the semi-final, I remember having a conversation with the boys asking them to remember that feeling, and use it as motivation to come back stronger and to put themselves in a position to put that right.
“It took longer than expected. There was a disappointing Year 8, the same again in Year 9, and then no football in Year 10 because of the pandemic. So this was their last chance – their ‘last dance’.
“Just before the first game of the Year 11 season, we set ourselves targets – win the league, don’t concede, create memories and enjoy this last year playing together.
“We had three wins from three games in the league before the winter break, scoring 18 goals and conceding none.
“At the halfway stage we were very happy.
“At the start of Spring 2, the cup started and we had to play Ash Manor and Tomlinscote in consecutive weeks, both tough oppositions, and both above us in the league.
“But two excellent team performances saw us through.
“Next up was the semi-final, five years on from the last. It had gone full circle – another semi-final, and the chance we’d been waiting for to put right the disappointment from five years ago, against the team who beat us.
“Winning that game was a special moment and one we’ll all remember for a long time to come.
“Two days later it was back to the league and a match against Eggar’s to decide the league title.
“You could forgive the boys for lacking the intensity in the first half, especially after their exploits two days before. But a rousing half-time team talk from captain Noah Ayres was the lift the boys needed.
“The moment the first goal went in shortly into the second half saw real emotion and genuine relief from everyone – me included.
“The final whistle went and the boys had done it – league winners, five years in the making.
“In the celebrations after the boys certainly had their ‘champagne moment’ – with sparkling water. I know, as I was covered in the stuff walking into the changing rooms after the game to congratulate them.
“School football is all about creating memories – and the boys certainly did that!
“I can’t put into words how proud I am of the boys for their outstanding achievements.”
The players who took part were Noah Ayres (captain), Jake Hooper, Michael Krupiencyk, Louis Davies, Jesse Fox, Jay Adams, Joel May, Aaron Barnes, Evan Anderson, Zac Haskett, Shayne Warren, Ryley Campbell, Mason Fishwick, Reece Day, Freddie Oliver and Jaden Farrar.