Minterne Community Junior School narrowly miss out on Wembley gloryMinterne Community Junior School narrowly missed out on claiming the npower Kids Cup Trophy after a 2-1 defeat at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Bradford City were not the only team preparing for their second visit to the venue with Gillingham FC’s Community Trust returning for their second appearance too, this time with an U11's team.
The National Final of the competition between Minterne and Slyne-with-Hest St Luke’s CE Primary School took place on the pitch prior to the League Two play-off final, with both teams hoping to cap off a memorable competition by claiming victory.
For full information regarding the build-up to the Final, please click here.
The teams made their way to Wembley on the Friday afternoon before the game with the opportunity to take in the surroundings and enjoy the bubbling atmosphere.
After a team briefing they spent the evening tenpin bowling and enjoying a team meal, while also making sure they were quietly tucked up in bed for an early night.
The next morning the boys were up bright and early for a team breakfast at the hotel before meeting with Football League representatives Andy and Amanda.
Both sides then made the short walk to the stadium, with stops along the way for photos. The teams walked up Wembley Way, past the statue of Bobby Moore and entered the stadium through the players entrance as the realisation of what lay ahead started to set in.
The teams were shown to their dressing room before making their way on to the pitch via the tunnel.
A tour of the playing surface was followed up by a trip to the dugouts and a long walk up the 107 steps to the royal box where the boys couldn’t resist pretending to lift a trophy.
It was then back to their dressing room to get changed and prepare for the task ahead.
The boys changed into their new npower playing kit, warmed up and went through tactics and formations for the game before being briefed by the referee.
As the nerves and butterflies set in the teams stepped out of the dressing room and made their way to the tunnel.
As the music started Captain Jimmy Witt lead the way as the boys walked out on to the pitch to the cheers and screams of their family and friends before each player was announced to the crowd.
The teams then shook hands and had one last quick warm-up prior to the referee beginning the game.
Morecambe showed early composure on the ball and were more of an attacking threat, but it took some confusion in the Gillingham defence to produce the opening goal. Morecambe took advantage and netted past Harry Hubbard, despite his best efforts to keep it out.
They doubled their lead just moments later, leaving Gillingham 2-0 down after only four minutes. This may have been the wakeup call they needed for the remainder of the first half.
Gillingham began to show more confidence in passing the ball well and began to attack more frequently.
A brief half-time talk helped to settle the boys further, and the second half saw a much sharper start. Both teams relaxed on the ball and the quality of the game improved. Some consistent pressure on the Morecambe defence lead to a fantastic goal from Josh Willis, pulling the score back to 2-1.
The last few minutes of the game could have seen the result go either way, with Hubbard pulling off a fantastic save and the Morecambe defence showing great resilience. Time just ran out however and the full time whistle blew, with Morecambe emerging victorious.
As Morecambe celebrated the Gillingham team, although hugely disappointed with the result, showed great sportsmanship and shook hands with their opponents and congratulated them.
Both teams then walked up to the Royal Box to collect their medals and respective trophies, before heading back to the dressing rooms.
They didn’t have much time to reflect on the result, as they were changing again, this time in to a new kit, to act as flag bearers for the main event.
Both teams carried flags on to the pitch parading the team’s crests, in doing so making an appearance on Sky Sports. After a very exciting and busy morning the teams then relaxed to watch the game whilst talking through their experience with friends and family who had made the journey to support them.
Thank you to npower and the Football League for a fantastic competition and weekend and to the team from Slyne-with-Hest St Luke’s School, their teachers and the staff from Morecambe who were gracious in their win.
The biggest thank you of course goes to the team - Jimmy Witt, Harry Hubbard, Bradley Allen, Dylan Tubb, Ben Adams, Hayden Barden, Hayden Wood and Josh Willis, their teachers Stuart Mitchell and Rhys Wintle and Minterne School for representing Gillingham FC at Wembley.
They played brilliantly from the start of the tournament and even though they didn’t lift the winner’s trophy this time, the prize was making it all the way to Wembley for an opportunity of a life time to play on the pitch, and we hope those memories will be something that stays with them.
To find out more about the Community projects at the club click here.