From The Chair
So the end of another season of football is upon us and I would like to start by saying how honoured I was to be asked last summer to be Chairman of Old Owens FC by the committee. Having been a member of the club for over 20 years it was particularly special to be taking on this role in our 125th year.
We marked this occasion with our annual ‘club day’ which culminated with the 1st XI taking on local rivals Winchmore Hill and coming away with a great 4-0 victory in the league. The attention then turned to the evening celebrations when we held a superb 125th Anniversary Dinner at the Royal Chase Hotel in Enfield. It was great to see so many faces, both past and present, at the dinner to celebrate this occasion and I would like to thank all the members of the organising committee for helping to put on such a fantastic event.
I have to admit it has been a very challenging season for the club both on and off the pitch, we happen to be one of a number of clubs within the SAL that are suffering from dwindling playing numbers and unfortunately this ended up in the decision to remove the 2nd XI from the league at the end of November. Over the last few years’ clubs have noticed a drop off in players that don’t appear to be committed to playing every week and unfortunately some only seem to want to play home games and are unwilling to travel to away fixtures. It wasn’t any easy decision to make but by reducing the club to 4 teams for the remainder of the season it has meant that we can focus on rebuilding the club for the future. We have managed to build up a strong enough squad in our 3rd XI who are now preparing for life as the 2nd XI next season and we have been boosted by the recruitment of some players in the lower XI’s that can only bode well for the future.
It is certainly worth remembering that we are one of a handful of clubs that own our ground, we have our own groundsman and a fully staffed bar and kitchen to provide drinks/food. A lot of clubs still have to put up/take down the nets after games and some clubs also rely on players taking turns to help out run the bar each week. All we ask as volunteers is that players pay their subs as these are needed to cover the costs to the club. The fact that we are owed a significant amount of annual/match subs and fines means that some players still take everything for granted and don’t appreciate what it takes to run an amateur football club.
Despite these issues we have had some success on the pitch with the 1st XI winning the Senior Old Boys Cup with a 4-2 victory against Old Parkonians, they have now won this cup a record 12 times, the 4th XI also reached the Old Boys Final but unfortunately came up just short against Old Wilsonians eventually losing 3-1.
The 5th XI have had a great end to the season not only winning the SAL Cup with a last minute winner vs. Carshalton FC (2-1) but they also managed to complete the double by securing the league with a nervy 2-2 draw away at Old Lyonians. This is a great achievement for a side that was originally going to be dropped from the club due to lack of players.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the School 1st XI on winning the County Cup the other month with a great victory of Knights Templar school. I know that some of the lads have already played senior football at the club this season and we look forward to them being involved in many more years to come.
As a club we were also asked to host both the Senior AFA Cup final and Senior Old Boys Cup final, both were great occasions for the club as part of our 125th anniversary at it was an honour for me to be the host representative for the day and welcome members of the SAL and AFA committees to the club. It was extra special as the 1st XI won the Old Boys cup as well on the same day that the 5th XI won the League cup and the celebrations certainly went late into the night.
One final highlight to the season is the commencement of the refurbishment works to the changing rooms. After 18 months of meetings, paperwork, forms and more meetings we were able to secure an FA grant that has been match funded by the Association so that all changing rooms can be redecorated and we can now convert changing rooms 8 and 9 into just one room for referees (and cricket umpires) to use. A massive thanks must go to Ian Breeze for all his hard work in securing the grant and also the Association for giving their continued backing to the project. I look forward to seeing the work finished in time for the start of the 2017/18 football season.
Chairman Old Owens FC
1st XI Review
With the squad looking strong, hopes were high for a good season in the 1st XI camp. Improved availability from the likes of Josh Thomson, Sam Dawe, Josh Smith, Iain Salt and Sam Sullivan were always going to allow us to make a better challenge for honours this time around and the lads got off to a flying start.
It always helps when availability is strong, so when we were able to pick 14 quality players for each of the first 5 league games it was no real surprise that we managed to pick up 5 wins from 5 games. Including cup games we went on an 8 game winning run and there were serious thoughts of winning the league title. Josh Thomson was assisting and banging goals in for fun, Sam Wilson and Sam Dawe were building an impressive partnership at the heart of the defence and the likes of Dempsey, Eguae, Folan, Salt and Smith were putting in some impressive performances.
However, pre-Christmas injuries to key men such as Andy Folan, Sam Sullivan, Charles Douse, Sam Wilson and Peter Eguae led to poorer availability and our results took a turn for the worse. Consecutive league defeats to NUFC Oilers, Old Wilsonians, Polytechnic and West Wickham effectively ended our chances of winning the league and a heavy defeat to an impressive Polytechnic side in the AFA cup meant that the only thing left to play for was the Old Boys Cup.
A routine 6-1 win vs Old Tenesonians in the semi-final set up a winnable final vs Old Parkonians in March. The final was to be held at our home ground as part of the club’s 125th anniversary celebrations and with this in the forefront of players’ minds availability and results once again started to pick up.
Good league wins against Alleyns and Parkonians even made us think about a title challenge again but an unfortunate 3-1 defeat to Polytechnic in what was a must win game meant that all eyes were back on the Old Boys Cup final.
Leading up to the final we were rocked by a serious ankle injury, sustained in a good 2-0 league win vs Old Garchonians, to star striker Josh Thomson and although he tried his best to play through the pain he was forced off at half time in what was a pretty dire 1st half in front of a healthy crowd on a sunny spring day at Coopers Lane.
Manager Ian Breeze rang the changes at half time and the rewards came almost immediately when a quick fire brace from Mike Timotheou and a Parkonians own goal put us into a comfortable 3-0 lead. Parkonians pulled a goal back to give them hope but a sublime volley from Dave Breeze (runner up in goal of the season to JT’s screamer vs Nottsborough) sealed the win and we ended up running out 4-2 winners to give us our first piece of silverware since our league title victory back in 2014.
Celebrations went on long into the night and the hangover from the night before somehow dragged into the final few games of the season. More disappointing availability meant we only managed to pick up 1 point from our final 3 league games against lower table opposition and that was that for another year.
Looking back at the season I would say that it has been a very enjoyable one but you can’t help but wonder…… what if we didn’t pick up as many injuries to key players and what if more people did a little bit more to play week in week out. We have some quality players in our squad but it’s hard for that quality to show when there’s inconsistent availability from too many of our squad members. Without dwelling on the negatives there have certainly been plenty of positives this season. Josh Thomson’s 22 goals and 9 assists in 21 games was exceptional; the return of the classy Liam Roche in defence was a major plus; the signing of Adam Bullock in goal towards the end of the season was invaluable and the impressive form of Andy Nolan and James Meehan towards the end of the season leaves me with reason for optimism. As always, pre-season will be tough and, with rumours circulating that JT could be moving to Australia in October and Andy Folan already away on a year of travelling, it is important that we look to recruit players in the summer. I for one am looking forward to the challenge and I hope the rest of the lads are too.
David Breeze (1st Team Manager)
3rd XI Review
In Early November 2016 the decision was taken by the club to merge the 2nd XI into the 3rd XI for the remainder of the season, a bunch of misfits were thrown together and a new team was born. The first game would be one of the longest away trips down to Carshalton and with only a couple of days to get a team sorted 12 men were scraped together. What made things worse was the bad decisions on the Friday night before the game, with some of the team waking up lost in Ilford and others waking up in a high rise in Southfields with a ropey old flame from uni. Both his football boots and dignity clearly left at home in Potters Bar. After a scrappy game, we came off the park on the wrong end of a 2-1 result, with both a heavy pitch and some extraordinary refereeing decisions against us, spirits were low. However it was only ever going to get better from there and this was proved the very next week with a great 2-1 victory over eventual league winners Alexandra Park in their own backyard.
From here the season ebbed and flowed but the team experienced success in the main. Memorable wins were recorded against Wilsonians at home, Merton away and Nottsborough at home, and the boys claimed a last gasp winner, after coming from behind with 10 left on the clock in the return fixture against Carshalton, to avenge the loss in the 1st game the team had played together earlier on in the year. With most of our games completed by March we entered the spring cup. This didn’t end up quite as we had hoped after injuries held us back in the group stage. However we finished the season strongly, ending up a remarkable joint 4th in the league after starting rock bottom on minus 3 points (deducted for not being able to fulfil a cup fixture before the teams merged.
Performances throughout the season were strong from all of our regulars. We managed to play good football on the deck on the great pitches prepared at home and also managed to grind out results in scrappy away fixtures on some heavy pitches. Notable good performances came from Ben Taylor up top, who nailed the role of a striker that rarely scores, but links the play and holds the ball up well (many may compare him to a young Emile Heskey or Dave Kitson). A bullet header from Ben from outside the box in the spring cup will stick in our minds for a long time, and I’m sure we’ll hear Ben talk about it in the bar for even longer. An exceptional first season from Jesse Waites really helped the team this year, though even he himself admits he got away with a few naughty tackles, he was a standout player in the centre of the park, taking games by the scruff of the neck with great work rate, speed and technical ability on the ball. He also had his moments off the field, just ask the Alexandra Park travelling firm. Alex Hughes had a great eye for goal scoring at a rate of almost a goal a game by the end of the season. Tom Flint from right back of all places, was our next biggest goal threat scoring a variety of goals, including some powerful headers and worldies from outside the box. Niall Gurhey and Finlay Everington were the surprise packages of the season, both turning in solid all-round performances whether part of a back three or a back four. Surprising because Niall was also a dead ball specialist, delivering some great assists throughout the season. And Finn just as much so as this was his first real, full season in men’s football and he took to it brilliantly, by the end of the season was clearly the stand out defender this year for his solid and aggressive performances throughout the season.
A bout of blisters ended his season early, although rumours have surfaced it may have actually been his girlfriend putting him firmly back under the thumb. Lastly a mention must go to Marcus Sherlock who we are unfortunately losing to university next season. You can tell from once glance of his physique Marcus is a powerhouse in the gym and it must be said he was the same on the field this season, with some great performances in the middle of the park. Although we all would have appreciated more goals from him, just for the chance he would take his top off in celebration.
Overall it’s been a hugely enjoyable and positive experience managing this team this season. We now look forward to becoming the clubs 2nd XI next season and with some summer additions hope to challenge for the league. All thanks must go to my partners in crime Jasper and Jacob who have been brilliant running the team this year. Even though Jacob did turn up half drunk from the night before to most games and I’ve seen the QE2 turn faster than Jasper at times this season.
Bring on the 2017-2018 season!
Mitchell Dennis (3rd Team Manager)
4th XI Review
Another year, another season over! It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons due to a lot of different factors. But there has still be a very good cup run that the lads can be very proud of, we got to Semi-final of the AFA cup, and a final of the Old Boys cup. We had a good group of core lads that helped the complete the season.
The 4’s did not win any trophy’s this year but I know other teams did so I want to say well done those these teams and hopefully next year the 4’s can get back to winning some trophy’s.
I want to start by thanking Graeme Pressney and Luke Cardall for their work helping with the 4’s throughout the season, with Prez the main goal threat this season! Without his free kicks hitting top bins it could have been a different story in our relegation battle. Obviously Luke will say without his save’s we would have been relegated so I think they will agree to disagree on who was our key player this season.
We had some games early in the season where just getting 11 players was difficult! But then after our cup final we also have struggled. But thank you to everyone from the 3’s and 5’s that helped out when needed and travelled.We have had some very good wins this season especially in the cups.
We have seen some great goals and some awful ones as well. But there has been a good group of players that have helped a lot these are players like Gurts, Tk, Gazza, Nelson, Fiddler and Si White. We also had some younger players that I am sure that will continue to play Owens for years to come ones like Tom Pritch, Matt Cagnetta, Harry Small and Matt Eamons.
There was some good performances this year but we are still waiting for Nelson to hit form and to see TK use his wand of a left foot to put in a decent cross, but I am sure next year our wait will be over.
I also want to thank Cheeko, Manny, Hawkey and all the Captains for their help this season and making sure the 4’s finished the season and got enough players out more times than not!
And last of all I just want to say thank you to everyone that played for the 4’s this season there is too many to name! But next season will be better!
Will Dunstan (4th Team Manager)
5th XI Review
The 5XI started the 2016/2017 season without a regular squad of players and the side were in danger of being withdrawn from all competitions.
We were thrown a lifeline on a freezing night in November 2016 when the Committee met in Changing Room 1 and took the brave decision to keep the 5XI going and to withdraw the 2XI instead. Fast forward 6 months and the 5XI finish the season with a league and cup double and have fully justified that decision.
The squad is made up of players who have graced sides at different levels over the past few seasons but have come together to call the 5XI home. The players have a great deal of ability, a sense of humour and enjoy a drink or two after the game (especially when the gaffer is getting the jugs in). All of this has combined to make Saturday afternoons fun again and the results speak for themselves.
Things started solidly in the league and, as everyone played together more regularly, we gradually climbed the table, albeit with a lot of games in hand. Importantly, people were enjoying their football. The arrival of Al, Dan and Sutts from Mayfield mid-way through the season helped give the side a bit of steel and allowed our creative players to play with more freedom.
Knocked out of the Old Boys cup in the early rounds by Old Finchleians our attention quickly turned to the SAL Cup in the hunt for silver. The draw for the 2nd round saw us face a very strong Crouch End Vampires 7XI. They expected to win easily but hadn’t anticipated the collective strength this 5XI had developed and we ran out deserved 2-1 winners.
The Final was played at Old Fincheians and we faced Carshalton 6XI who were unbeaten in their league and scoring goals for fun. In fact, they had only lost once all season which was in the group stage of this competition.
The Final was a game that had everything. Wilson got lobbed from 30 yards, a mum and dad invaded the pitch to confront Strong after handbags involving their son, a head-butt, a red card and a last minute winner.
Attentions then turned back to the league and we were faced with a fixture backlog following our difficulty fielding a side at the start of the season. Some great co-ordination with the league by Hawkey and Wilson secured us two home double headers and the boys delivered 12 valuable points.
A disappointing 5-2 defeat away to Alexandra Park 10XI meant that we had to win 3 out of the 4 remaining fixtures during April and victory in two consecutive Tuesday night games against Alexandra Park put us in a great position. The title was eventually secured in a nervy draw against Old Lyonnians with one game to spare and the open top bus booked.
The club have provided a great deal of support to get the 5XI to this point and special thanks should be given to the 4XI management and players who have helped fill the gaps when required early on and to Wardy for his help and assistance throughout the season.
To complete a league and cup double is a special achievement and, even more so with a squad that had not played together regularly until just before Christmas. The 5XI finish the season with the most goals scored in the league and with the meanest defence. They have also claimed the scalp of the two other best sides at this level during their cup success. This group of players deserve a great deal of credit and we now look forward to next season with great optimism.
5XI Squad 2016-2017
Graeme Wilson – Goalkeeper
Wilson came out of retirement (again) for this season and finishes with a league and cup winners medal. Despite being lobbed on numerous occasions he also helped the 5XI claim more clean sheets this season than every other side at the club combined.
Jon Robinson – Goalkeeper/Defender/Forward/Gaffer
The 69 shirt was dusted off for the first time since the 07/08 season and the lack of game time in the previous decade often showed. More at home in his new managerial role or at the bar getting the beers in, the gaffer put in a couple of decent performances in goal this season and also managed to get himself on the scoresheet in the final game.
Ian Mellis - Defender
A consistent performer for the 5XI and Mr reliable. Ian has played most of the season at full-back apart from one brief cameo as a holding midfielder. An experiment that is unlikely to be repeated! Ian often finds himself bounding into the opposition penalty area as he chases the ball up field and has been unlucky not to make more of his forays forward.
Steven Brown – Defender
Steven has been almost ever present for the fives this season and was unlucky to pick up an injury to his ribs which limited his playing time in the final few games. Despite his calm demeanor he has an aggressive streak when on the end of a bad tackle and enjoys nothing more than moaning at Brunning for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Sell – Defender
Dan always puts his body and head on the line in defence and loves nothing more than a physical battle with the opposition followed by a few beers (or an amaretto sour) in the bar. He came to Old Owens midway through the season and has thrown himself into life with the 5XI. A good man to have around both on and off the pitch.
Alasdair Coulson - Defender
Another mid-season acquisition from Mayfield, Al is a deceptively quick defender with the ability to read the game and time a tackle superbly. He also possesses a sweet left foot and claimed the fives goal of the season with a rocket from 25 yards that nestled in the roof of the net.
Ian Hawke - Defender
A late comer to the 5XI having played most of the season with higher sides. Despite bringing his own piece of carpet to every game, Hawkey is a very welcome addition to the squad. Always looking to get forward, Ian’s probing runs deep into the opposition half are reminiscent of an ageing Roberto Carlos.
Daniel Brown – Midfielder
The fittest member of the 5XI squad has found his goal scoring touch this season from centre midfield returning an impressive tally of 6 goals. Like his brother, Dan also enjoys berating Brunning throughout 90 minutes of football on a Saturday and again in the bar afterwards.
Mark Sutton – Midfielder
The skipper is not the loudest player on the pitch but his work rate and desire are an example for others to follow. His head seems to be a magnet for any ball in the air and he scores some very important goals, including a brace in the cup final. Sutts will often be found at the bar with one eye on the door in case his missus arrives early to pick him up and discovers that he has been led astray again.
James Armstrong – Midfielder
Strong is the one player guaranteed to upset the ref and the opposition each week and is frequently on the end of a bad tackle as a result. His game combines pace, power and desire and on his day there aren’t many better midfielders in our league. That said, when he has an off day, he really has an off day.
Jack Riley – Defender/Midfielder
Jack has developed steadily as a player as the season has progressed and has played in a number of positions without complaint. A very likeable member of the squad, Jack is always fully committed, has quick feet and is deceptively strong.
Joe Lang – Midfielder
Joe has had a very strong season and been almost ever present. He has a good footballing brain and has played in every position across the midfield and also at full back. Not afraid to get stuck in, Joe is tenacious and also has the ability to link play well moving forward. One of the fives unsung heroes.
Alex Armstrong – Defender/Midfielder
Fearless in the tackle and strong in the air, Alex is frequently underestimated by the opposition and his pace and creativity going forward cause most sides problems. Alex should be playing higher but also wants to enjoy playing football on a Saturday and not take it too seriously. Well that is certainly something that this 5XI can offer and we are delighted that Alex has been part of the squad for the latter part of the season.
Seb Garber – Forward
Seb has played an increasingly important role for the fives as the season has progressed. His preferred position is upfront but Seb has often played wide this season where he has used his pace to good effect. His introduction in the cup final helped to turn the game in our favour and two important goals away to AP did likewise in the league.
Todd Garber – Midfielder
Todd has not played as much as he would have liked this season but has played a part in the final few league games. Hopefully he will be available next season and will become a valuable squad member with a better run in the side.
Luke Watling – Midfielder/Forward
Famed for his antics with CEV on Twitter, Watling can ping a ball from anywhere to create a goalscoring opportunity and if we were calculating assists this year then Luke would undoubtedly be at the top of the pile. He has also weighed in with his fair share of goals and it is unusal for him not to find the net at some point in 90 minutes.
Alex Brunning – Forward
Brunning always takes a fair amount of justified abuse on a Saturday but takes it all in good spirit. He is the sixes leading marksman this season with 19 goals in all competitions but probably should have bagged almost double that tally. His scoring wasn’t confined to the pitch though as he managed to crack on with a member of the Winchmore Hill staff by swiping right on Tinder.
Si White – Specialist Pot Hunter
Si switched his allegiance to the fives late in the season and made no attempt to hide the fact that this was down to his desire to win silverware. He has chipped in with a few important goals and played his part in helping to bring both trophies back to Coopers Lane. If Si wanted to sign up as a permeant member of the 5XI there would be no complaints from us.
Adam Todd – Forward
Toddy returned to Old Owens football for the first time since the 06-07 season and always makes himself available for selection. His most memorable run out this season was coming on for a full 90 seconds on the first team pitch before pinging his thigh and limping straight back off to get changed.
Darren Griffin – Forward/Gaffer
The other half of the fives management duo. Darren a.k.a Gripper has started most games this season with average time on the pitch of circa 5 minutes. He has once again proved that pace isn’t everything and that the first yard is in your head. Despite not scoring this season he did manage a total of 3 headers (when he was set) over the course of the campaign to win himself a curry from Robbo and Pres.
Jon Robinson (5th Team Manager)