Gathering together a team of u9 Chester Town players representing all 3 of our teams, we entered this tournament with mixed hopes of achieving success on the field. Not familiar with playing together, up against older players and playing to u10 rules of not retreating to the halfway line which was unfamiliar to us, some would say we had nothing to gain being here. When it became clear that we would be the only u9 team, up against 3 u10 teams, playing 5 a-side instead of our now usual 7 a-side….. So what does the coach do, he plays nearly everyone in the first game out of familiar position too (and forgets to tell them about the no retreat rule). It’s testement to this bunch of kids character that they were disappointed to end the first match with a 2-2 draw when they felt it could have been won. Louie and Toby represented the Blues, MacKenzie and James the Lions and a core of White’s consisting of Joel, Nick, Will, Olly and Ben filled up the squad. The day was about the experience so players got shuffled around and before the next match. The opposition were of a very high standard but were held comfortably for the opening 5 minutes. However, the no retreat rule was a huge pressure and new experience and I didn’t make things easier by insisting MacKensie, who had a great tournament, play the ball out from goal. Eventually an avalanche of goals was conceded and the coach takes responsibility for much of this. Undaunted, we approached the third game in high spirits and led right till virtually the last kick of the game. Though initially awarded the win, hats off to the honesty of our team for arguing against this and declaring it a draw. So after a short break we played this same opposition to decide tournament placings and despite their determined efforts we came away from the final match with a 3-2 win, fairly contested and in no small part to Will’s battling performance up front to sneak in a couple goals for himself and but it was a combined effort and a well deserved finish to the day. Toby was solid in goal the first half but Joel’s second half in goal was maybe the best display I’ve seen in 3 years of coaching. Hope fully players like MacKenzie and James, who worked very hard without having the space he usually gets, will line up next season and recall how only a top u10 side could beat them on the day. Toby and Louie can remember that even though they worked hard, and Louie scored a brilliant solo goal, that this was a team effort and with a few more familiar faces around them they can really push teams hard, as their recent promotion shows. As for my Whites, huge progress has been made over the last few month and score lines don’t always tell the whole story. You train hard, listen and this allows you to stand toe-to-toe with older boys from higher leagues and still enjoy it. Well done all, thoroughly worthwhile experience.

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