Our year 11 football team are a group of boys who have been a delight to teach and interact with throughout their time at Tabor. I joined Tabor in the same year as this cohort, I watched them lose in a Year 7 final on penalties, as well as missing out on the knockout rounds in Year 8, 9 and 10. However, the boys have just epitomised a really strong message throughout their time at school “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up”. They have never felt sorry for themselves, they have come together as a brilliant team-orientated group, and their success yesterday has given them their deserved reward.
Tabor vs Notley Match Report
First Half: The game was played at AFC Barnston, and Tabor brought along 30 extra pupils from Year 11 to cheer on the team. The place was packed with supporting parents from both teams, the Tabor Director of football, Mr Salmon, was joined by Assistant Director, Chris Jakens, and Marketing Director Dave Wiles. We had a special guest appearance from Richard Thomas, who used to work at Tabor in the PE department, as the current Year 11s were his last memorable year group before retirement. A really strong start from Tabor in blustery conditions saw the whole team pressuring the Notley team at every opportunity. Tabor forced a succession of corners, as Randy Chuttur sent an excellent cross into the box. Nick Betteridge got his head to the ball, which was narrowly diverted over the bar from Jonny Styles. A positive start to the match certainly enabled the boys to settle into the game. The outstanding defensive unit of Aidan Cayley, Rafal Czechowski, Nick Betteridge and Charlie Foskett were winning tackles and headers consistently, while further forward, Ricco Luccardi, Isaac Falk, Randy Chuttur, Warren Chuttur and Jonny Styles were doing a great job of moving the ball effectively in midfield. Up front on his own, Gavin Hannah was making intelligent runs to unsettle the Notley defence, and it was causing them to make errors. Tabor were indebted to Lewis Cherry in goal midway through the first half, as the ball was swung over to the left winger, who hit a low strike towards the Tabor goal, but the man mountain Cherry superbly parried the ball away for a corner.
The game was being fiercely contested, with so many brilliantly timed tackles from the Tabor team, and it was keeping the Tabor fan-base thoroughly entertained. Unfortunately for Tabor, the Notley team had not read my pre-planned script and took the lead through an excellent driven shot from their striker that left the goalkeeper with no chance. Tabor needed a positive reaction, to remain calm and composed, and to draw on their team spirit to get back into the game. From the restart, Tabor almost seemed to click into a higher gear. Ricco Luccardi battled his way past three players with superb determination, the ball found it’s way into the Notley area at which point two shots were fired at the Notley goal which the goalkeeper kept out. The ball bounced around the box, Isaac Falk sent another shot towards the gaping goal, and it was kept out by a Notley defenders arm. PENALTY to Tabor! The reliable centre back, Nick Betteridge, strode forward in a confident manner and dispatched the penalty into the bottom left corner of the goal to restore parity in the final. The rest of the half saw Tabor dominate possession and territory, and from a well-flighted Warren Chuttur corner, Isaac Falk was unlucky to see his header go narrowly past the post. The referee brought the game to a stop and the half-time score was Tabor 1-1 Notley.
Second Half: Tabor had to contend with the tough breeze blowing in their faces for the second half. However, they kept the ball on the ground from the start of the half and moved the ball around the pitch effectively. Adam Curtis-Gilkes slotted into the midfield seamlessly, and the boys were looking the more likely to score the next goal. The ball was sent towards Gavin Hannah and the Notley defender, who showed slight hesitation with his clearance. Gavin capitalised on the mistake and found himself 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper as well as a number of rapid Notley defenders chasing him down. The Tabor fans held their breath, the Notley goalkeeper sprinted out to shut down the angle, yet Gavin remained the calmest man on the pitch to clip the ball over the goalkeeper, Lionel Messi esque, which sent Tabor into a 2-1 lead.
As with any team, protecting a lead is one of the most difficult things to do without giving your supporters a heart attack. Notley certainly upped the pressure on Tabor, and were denied a couple of opportunities due to an unbelievable saving slide tackle from Aidan Cayley, as well as Lewis Cherry coming out bravely to thwart the oncoming Notley striker. Notley were making more use of the wind, which was challenging the steely Tabor defence. However, once again, Betteridge, Foskett and Czechowski just kept bouncing headers back in the other direction. Kieran Whiting carried on from where Warren Chuttur left off on the right wing, providing great cover to his defence and also contributing effectively in an attacking sense. The final 5 minutes of the match felt like an eternity to all Tabor players and fans, the referee awarded the Notley team numerous free-kicks in dangerous positions, but our boys were not going to allow Notley to score at any point. Luccardi was fouling players at every opportunity, Falk and Curtis-Gilkes were breaking up play in midfield, and it was going to take a monumental effort from Notley to equalise against us. I have highlighted at the past four sports awards evenings how this year group are one of the most deserving year groups for winning the District Football Cup competition, and once Lewis Cherry sent his final goal-kick up-field, the final whistle was blown and Tabor had finally seen off all schools in their final ever school game.
FINAL SCORE- TABOR (Goals- Nick Betteridge; Gavin Hannah) 2-1 NOTLEY
1. Lewis (Goalkeeper): Outstanding saves at crucial times. Cut his head open during the second half, yet still performed admirably for the rest of the match. Only conceded 2 goals in 6 games.
2. Aidan Cayley (Right back): Man of the Match performance. Unbelievable tackling, passing, anticipation and general attitude towards helping his team to victory.
3. Rafal Czechowski (Centre back): Superb defender who would probably header a shot put. Brilliant performances in every game this season.
4. Nick Betteridge (Centre back): One of the most intelligent player I’ve watched play. Never out of position and combines his brilliant defending with big goals!! King of the penalty taking!
5. Charlie Foskett (Left back): What a fantastic addition to the team this year, who won so many challenges in the air and showed great progress throughout the season.
6. Isaac Falk (Centre midfield): Brilliant captain of the team. Encourages teammates, dominates the opposition with his height, skill and lethal throw-ins, and is a credit to his teammates.
7. Ricco Luccardi (Centre midfield): Picked out by the Notley manager as Man of the Match, and really has shown a winners attitude in every game this season. Great desire, character and versatility in his play were crucial to our success.
8. Adam Curtis-Gilkes (Centre midfield): A cultured player who fought off injury to play in the final and performed in his usual fluent, accomplished manner.
9. Warren Chuttur (Right midfield): Excellent team player who battled well on the right side, and produced one of his most determined displays for Tabor in the final.
10. Randy Chuttur (Left midfield): Good job the Chutturs play with different feet, otherwise I have no chance of telling them apart. Randy was our set piece specialist from corners, as well as putting in great effort for every match of the season.
11. Kieran Whiting (Right midfield): Has come into the team for the semi-final and final, and completely justified his selection with some excellent play and a true team based attitude.
12. Jonny Styles (Attacking midfield): An unsung hero who goes about every game with 100% effort in each game regardless of the opposition. A real gem to have found this season.
13. Gavin Hannah (Striker): Scored the winning goal in 3 matches this season, particularly the decisive goals in the semi-final and the final. A lethal finisher and a valued member of the team.
Year 11 2014-2015 Season Results:
Tabor (Gavin Hannah) 1-0 Honywood
Tabor (Nick Betteridge x2, Gavin Hannah, Ricco Luccardi) 4-1 Rickstones
Tabor (Ricco Luccardi x4, Gavin Hannah x2, Aidan Cayley x2, Isaac Falk) 9-0 Forest Hall
Tabor (Isaac Falk; Warren Chuttur) 2-0 Hedingham
Tabor (Gavin Hannah) 1-0 Alec Hunter
Tabor (Nick Betteridge, Gavin Hannah) 2-1 Notley
A massive thanks must go to Tabor’s Estates Manager, David Wiles, who sorted out a new football kit for the boys to wear for the final, and you can tell from the photo just how delighted everyone was. Kian Culham in Year 9 was the linesman for the majority of the games this season, and was outstanding in his role. Furthermore, we have had boys from the year group who have helped to build up this journey by playing in the school team in previous years. The likes of Conor Culham, Cameron Chapman, George Hinds, Jarrod Spencer, Sam Deal, Josh Hammond, Keelan Joslin and Alex Eveleigh (all of whom supported the boys at the final) also deserve praise for helping to instil such a brilliant atmosphere amongst the group. Finally, a big thanks to the regular supporters at the matches as well as the PE staff who have given up their time with regards to transport and refereeing.
Well done to Tabor Academy Year 11s for a brilliant end to their time at Tabor. Best of luck to the whole year group for their forthcoming GCSE examinations. Mr Welton, PE Department