Mead’s Lose Out As Title Goes To The Wire
Amateur Football Combination Premier Division Old Meadonians 2 Old Aloysians 5
It was appropriate that, as the competition for the Premiership of the Amateur Football Combination went down to the wire, it should be retiring champions Old Meadonians hosting one of the clubs aspiring to take over Meads’ crown, Old Aloysians, with the visitors needing at least to draw to take the accolade and deny the other aspirant and temporary league leaders Albanians, waiting anxiously in the wings.
An eager crowd of over one hundred were treated to a gripping and nail-biting encounter at sun drenched Riverside Lands with Aloysians having the obvious incentive to attack and Meads defending their honour valiantly for all but the last twenty minutes. Then, having shaken the visitors by coming from behind to take a shock lead, their squad which was blooding five youngsters from the fourth team finally ran out of steam and soaked up four goals.
The game started with even exchanges, Aloysians putting in the more sustained pressure and Meads relying on the breaking power of Leon Smith supported by Danny Jacobs up front but it was the aspirants who took the lead on the half hour, Damien O’Donohue firing in from close range. At this point it looked a routine job for the visitors: play tidy possession football and defend their lead which meant the hosts had to get two to deprive them of the championship.
However, what looked a far cry for Meads rapidly became a nightmare for Aloysians. Fifteen minutes into the second half Meads’ midfielder Ed Glover scored from a narrow angle and five minutes later Smith got in behind the defence to head a lobbed pass over the advancing Aloysians’ keeper Jason Suban. Almost immediately Smith forced Suban into making a brilliant full length save to keep his side’s hopes alive. Then came the game’s pivotal moment. Just seconds after he’d hit the bar with a raking shot from twenty yards, Aloysians’ Nick Laird worked his way along the goal line from the right and when his swerve inside caught Len Wapshott on the hop, the penalty was converted by Mick Jones.
The jubilant visitors rapidly became rampant as first Laird helped Terry O’Neil to a tap in and then helped himself to two more on the break to ice Aloysians’ cake. After the final whistle, following their celebratory huddle and chant of ‘Championes’ the new Amateur Football Combination Premiership Champions were applauded from the pitch by the Meads team who were in their turn applauded by Aloysians. Then both teams lined up to applaud Meads’ managers, Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen who are retiring after six glorious and productive years.
Team: Toyne, Pointer, Wapshott, Quinn, (Granville), Trotter, (Green), Gerrish, Rhone, Glover, Eguae, Jacobs, (D. Smith), L. Smith.
Although they missed out on the title, Old Meadonians received the greatest honour in their seventy-nine year history this week when Councillor Paul Lynch presented Chairman Derek Barnett and retiring managers Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen, bearing the Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup, to the newly elected Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow Councillor Dr. Genevieve Hibbs and Councillors at the most important Council meeting of the year, colloquially known as ‘The Mayor Making’.
It was also appropriate that Paul Lynch, member for Chiswick Riverside and Lead Member for Schools and Children should be the prime mover in honouring the club, living as he does in Grove Park, in the heart of the community which has nurtured the club from a little acorn into a giant oak at the summit of amateur football in London.
Had he lived in the same street in 1929 when the club was formed from old boys of Chiswick Grammar School he would have found himself living almost next door to two teachers at the school both of whom were instrumental in fostering school sport.
Councillor Lynch’s warm and succinct speech pointed out to the Mayor and Members that this was the fourth time Old Meadonians had won the A.F.A. Senior Cup in the past seven seasons, the third time during the trophy-encrusted six year management of Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen. His most telling tribute to the club was that, in a time when we are all trying to engage with youth, it provided its three hundred members football facilities from August to May every year, a most valuable community partnership with the Council and one for which the Council was truly thankful.
His speech was heartily applauded by the Mayor, Members, Officials and the public in the gallery and, for the rest of the meeting, while the Council transacted other business in hand, the A.F.A. Senior Cup gleamed alongside the Mayoral Mace on the desk below the Mayor’s dais.