From The Chair
As with many end of season reports that have previously been written this one is no exception to the fact that once again the season isn’t actually finished due to the last few months being badly affected by the now infamous ‘Beast from the East’ version I and II......
By the time you are reading this the 1’s, although finished, are still waiting to find out if their Division 1 status is secure, the 2’s should mathematically be league champions but still have 2 games to play, the 3’s have 3 games left to play but should hopefully be secure as runners up (with an outside possibility of league winners) and the 4’s should have confirmed their spot as league runners up.
Therefore as seasons go we should be celebrating a league title, 2 x runners up (promotion included) and the small matter of the clubs 2nd ever AFA Cup win.
Season 2017/18 has definitely been one of maintaining stability and continued rebuilding for the future following the clubs decision to run with just 4 teams again. The 2’s re-entered the league in a lower division than before (Intermediate Division 3) after pulling out of the SAL the previous season and the 3’s and 4’s were now part of a revamped SAL format that included further regionalisation (Junior Divisions North 2 and 4 respectively).
Away from the football side of things the club is also benefitting from the continued development and refurbishment of its surroundings with the new changing rooms being officially opened at the start of the season, the toilets and outside patio area are also on the list of jobs to do by the association and thanks to the hard work and endeavour of Eammon Dempsey all of the windows in the club house will soon be replaced ready for the start of next season. All we need now is an extremely rich benefactor (or lottery winner) to turn the derelict tennis courts into an astro-turf training pitch!
Although I previously mentioned the success that the club has had/should be celebrating on the pitch it hasn’t all been plan sailing this season and it’s only thanks to the tremendous amount of hard work from all the managers and committee members behind the scenes that we are sitting down tonight to celebrate these achievements. I would also like to say massive thanks once again to John and Lynn and all of their staff for the continued support that they offer the football club throughout the season.
Under the leadership of Ian and Dave the 1’s have certainly had a very tough season, serious injuries to key players, work commitments, players leaving or going travelling and the continued commitment issues of travelling south of the river are just some of the factors that have led to the team now waiting on other results to go our way, Winchmore need to win all 3 games remaining to overtake us and EBOG’s still have to play the top two sides in the league so everything is crossed for these results to work in our favour.
The 2’s have certainly been the team of the season under the leadership of Jasper, Mitch and Jacob who after being thrown together last season to keep the 3’s up were fully aware that their mandate for the season was to get a team together from everyone they knew that would be re-entered at 2nd XI level. As it turns out they have assembled a very good squad of players who have gone from strength to strength as the season has gone on and barring an absolute miracle will be celebrating the league title very soon.
This however has definitely been eclipsed by the fact that for the first time ever (and only second in the clubs history, I was part of the 4’s AFA Cup successJ) they went all the way in the Intermediate AFA Cup and secured the trophy with a fine 2-1 win against UCL Academicals. This is a massive achievement for all involved and the challenge now is to go on and defend this trophy next season.
On a separate note this success will allow me to let them off losing to EBOG’s in the Old Boys Cup!!
The 3’s found themselves playing regionalised football for the first time and this has certainly helped in attracting a number of players back into the fold and allowed them to field a very competitive team for the majority of the season. Under the leadership of Will and Prez (again) the 3’s should be on the brink of securing promotion as runners up in the league and just need another couple of wins to hopefully secure this. They have also had 2 very successful cup runs in the SAL and Old Boys competitions, however in the finals they unfortunately came up against two very good sides in Winchmore 5’s and Enfield OG’s 3’s and on both occasions finished as runners up.
Congratulation must go to Prez who not only found time to organise and play football each week but also managed to get married during the football season to Laura and thanks to agreeing to buy Wilson a lot of drinks he got the Old Boys Cup final moved as it clashed with his Stag do!!
The 4’s under the guidance of club secretary Robbo had a lot to live up to after last season’s double success (the celebrations after the league dinner presentation were very impressive). The League cup defence unfortunately came to a halt at the ¼ final stage after a 3-2 defeat to Crouch End however the boys have continued their fine league form for another season but have come up just short as the winners were confirmed as Old Parks 7’s last Saturday who we then beat 3-1 a few days later. The final game of the season for them was today vs. Lyonians and all being well Robbo and the boys are currently enjoying a cold beer having secured promotion as runners up.
I now wish everyone involved with Old Owens FC a very enjoyable summer and hope that everyone comes back refreshed in a few months time ready for season 2018/19. Once again if anyone wants to step up and help have a say in how the club is run then all offers of joining the committee are always welcome.
Chairman Old Owens FC
1st XI Review
This has undoubtedly been the most difficult season I have experienced as a 1st XI player or manager since I made my debut for the side back in 2003. For the previous 15 years I have always gone into every match with a belief that we are more skilful, better tactically and have a better team spirit than our opponents. However, that hasn’t always been the case this year and as a result it’s no surprise that, even as I write, we can still get relegated.
I knew that this season was going to be a challenge when two ever presents of the 2016-17 season, Josh Thomson (JT) and Andy Folan, hit me with the news that they would be travelling for half of the matches. JT was our top goal scorer and his quality is almost impossible to replace. Folan helps to make us tick in midfield, is a big character in the dressing room and was just as big a loss. Without these two it was important that the rest of the team stayed together. However, just 2 weeks before our first pre-season game our captain and leader, Iain Salt, dropped the bombshell that he was leaving to play for Cockfosters. This was a huge blow and without these 3 our squad was looking bare.
We still had quality in our squad and so long as our players could stay fit and committed I was confident that we’d be able to have a successful season. However, this optimism was quickly diminishing as we seemed to lose a key player to long term injury nearly every game. Our injury list by the half way stage of the season was:- Liam Roche (broken leg – out for the season), Andy Nolan (ankle ligament damage – out for the season), Sam Wilson (circulatory issue – out for the season), Peter Eguae (ankle ligament damage – out for 8 weeks), Charles Douse (hamstring issue – out for 4 weeks).
These are just the serious issues and when you add inconsistent availability to the mix we were at bare bones most weeks! In fact in 8 of our 12 away games this season we had a bare XI. In an Old Boys Cup game my 63 year old dad had to play up front availability was that sparse!!!
With the injury and availability issues we were facing it was no real surprise that by Christmas we were out of both cups and were preparing ourselves for a relegation battle. Luckily however, the Christmas period saw some university players return meaning we were able to field stronger sides and we managed to pick up 10 points in 5 games to steer us into mid-table. With 7 games to go we realistically needed 8 more points to guarantee safety but with 3 of these games being away to teams south of the river I knew that this would be tricky.
A vital 3-2 win at home to Old Parkonians and a 1-1 draw at home to Winchmore Hill gave us 4 of the points needed but defeats to Polytechnic and Old Wilsonians meant that we would still need 4 points from Bank of England (A), Nottsborough (A), Old Garchonians (H) and West Wickham (H).
We hadn’t won an away league game all season before travelling to Bank of England and when I looked at the inexperienced team in the changing room that day I feared the worst. We arrived late, did a poor warm up and started the game terribly. The only blessing was that we managed to get to half time at 0-0. To be honest I would have taken a point at the time but fair play to the young lads in the side that day (4 players under 20), they stepped up to the mark and showed that they cared. We went 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go and then secured the win in the last minute to make it 2-0. That win took us to 20 points and we knew that 1 more point from our last 3 games would almost guarantee safety for another year.
That elusive point never happened though. A 7-0 hammering away at Nottsoborough, a cruel last minute defeat to fellow relegation battlers Old Garchonians and a 1-0 defeat to West Wickham means that we are still awaiting our fate. Lots of results have to go against us if we are to go down but as they say, the league table never lies, so what will be will be.
There haven’t been many positives this season but the emergence of school 1st XI player Ben Reynolds at right back has been a shining light. The signing of Geo Craig up front has also added real quality to our squad and I hope he’ll get himself fit so he can have a real impact for us next season. Finally, the return of Andy Ward at centre half has been vital. He always turns up late but he does everything to play for this club and will never let you down.
Before my dad and I commit to running the side again next year I need to have some serious conversations with the players and the committee. I love this club and the team but things need to improve all-round if we are going to continue. I want it to work and I hope others do too.
Thanks for reading.
David Breeze (1st Team Manager)
2nd XI Review
It would be an understatement to say we are happy with how our first season as the 2s has gone. The team went from strength to strength at the end of last season, a few new summer signings and a good preseason put us in a great place to challenge in the league and the cups. We went on to produce a fantastic season, securing the league and AFA cup Double for the first time in Old Owens history!
We started the season in great form, winning 8-1 in the sun at the school playing like Pep’s City, a left foot strike from Dan Dolbear being the pick of the goals. We followed this up with a 3-0 away win in our first of many trips south of the river, despite a last minute dash to Sports Direct for a Sondico away kit thanks to a Nicky Stewart lie in.
We were brought back down to earth with a couple of poor league results and cup exits to EBOGS and Hampstead Heathens, but after a few inspirational team talks from Mitch Dennis the boys regrouped and focused on the AFA Cup and rest of the league season.
We went on to win our next 13 games on the bounce, putting us top of the league and prompting further comparisons to Pep’s Man City side (the only difference being the 2s didn’t bottle their big cup games against in-form rivals). We went to the unbeaten Alexandra Park Reserves in the last 16 of the cup, winning 5-0 and sending shockwaves across amateur football.
The 2s marched on to the quarter finals - another long away trip down to Old Manorians described by club legend Graeme Wilson as ‘tough draw that’. Despite being 2-1 down at half time and giving up about 6 inches of height per player, we came back to win 3-2 with the last kick of the game. Onto the semis.
Another away trip, this one to Ibis Eagles was selected to be televised and questions were asked if we could perform on the big stage. Early goals from Hadley and Manny ensured the tie was over before it started and the game finished 5-1. A special thanks to Ibis Eagles for filming the demolition which can now be found on YouTube.
The Final. Old Owens v UCL Academicals. Owens were handed a boost when the final was postponed a week due to snow, meaning hard man and fan favourite Jesse Waites could return to the starting line-up. A powerful midfield 3 of Jesse, Danny Clarke and Cal Bayliss dominated early, supported by top scorer Manny up front and a formidable back 4 and keeper behind them. Mitchell also did some stepovers. Owens powered to a 2-0 lead, with UCLs keeper the only thing keeping the score respectable. Some questionable refereeing decisions including sending the immaculately behaved Flinty off on 60 mins meant a backs-to-the-wall finish for Owens. Despite a late goal for UCL, defensive heroics from Ben Taylor, Tom Peck, Hadley McCarthy and Joe Gash (with a broken toe) meant we held on for a historic AFA cup win and a memorable coach journey back to the club.
With the cup wrapped up, we returned to the league determined to do the double, with local boys Norsemen being the only real challengers with 2 games against each other to play. The first game was abandoned at 3-0, we await an AFA hearing so the less said the better, but when we returned for the home leg the football did the talking, recording a 10-0 win in our best performance of the season to effectively seal the league title.
A hugely successful first full season for the young management team of Jacob, Jasper and Mitch. We look forward to defending the AFA Cup and chasing back to back promotions to return to Division 1.
Roll on next season.
Mitchell Dennis (2nd Team Manager)
3rd XI Review
Another year, another season over! It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons due to a lot of different factors. But the team really have pulled together from a poor start and we look like we will be promoted and had two cup finals, we have had two great cup runs that the lads can be very proud of, we got to final of the SAL cup and the Old Boys cup. Unfortunately we were not able to convert our form from the earlier rounds to the finals and didn’t manage to bring the trophy’s home. We had a good group of core lads that helped the complete the season.
The 3’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 3’s can get back to winning some trophy’s.
I want to start by thanking Graeme Pressney for his work co-managing with the 3’s throughout the season, he has been a great asset and between the both of us making sure we got a team out and competing every week, me washing the kit and with Prez the main goal threat we have had a good season! Without his free kicks and pens hitting top bins it would have been a much harder season, when he was not in the team we did miss his goal threat. Obviously there will be two or three other players arguing between themselves who will say it was down to them or we would have been relegated.
We had some games early in the season where just getting 11 players was difficult! But then after that we have had a really good group who have been available every week and been there and battled in every game. The group had two great cup runs and hopefully with this group next year we can push on and bring the trophy’s home as well!
We have had some great moments and normal week in week out performances, IE. Phil Riley’s pre game pint of Guinness was always excellent form, nearly as good as Prez’s after match gin drinking, maybe next year Phil can match Prez for that. We had the normal Springate singing on the tables and falling asleep and Nick Metivier and fiddler throwing chairs, the less talk about what some players did in the Ref’s changing room the better as well. We also had the now infamous Si white looking after little Pritch in the toilet after 3 pints of cider. Joe Wilson feeding the Carp in front of Kev Mrs will be joked about for a while yet as well. The words Piss flaps will also be reminders of this season.
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, Fidler, Gazza, Nick, Colin, Kev, Ad Matthews, Ant Mann, Jack Woodrow,Charley, Elgar,Phil 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 Pritchard. There were some good performances this year and I want to say thank you to everyone who played for the 3’s this year.
I also want to thank Robbo, Prez, Cheeko, Wilson and all the Captains for their help this season and making the club run as well as it has this year.
And last of all I just want to say thank you to everyone that played for the 3’s this season there is too many to name! But next season will be better and we will bring a trophy home!
Will Dunstan (3rd Team Manager)
4th XI Review
After the double winning success of the 2016/2017 season, the newly christened 4XI started the campaign with the expectation of securing more silverware and another squad night out.
The exploits of the previous season meant that the 4’s had a core group of players who, with one or two additions, should easily compete for one of the top places of Minor Division 4. Unfortunately the early season recruits provided very mixed results on the pitch leaving the 4’s still on the lookout for new players.
Despite starting the season positively, an unexpected draw against Alexandra Park 8XI was followed by a 3-0 defeat to Old Lyonnians 4XI. Two weeks passed and there was yet another loss, this time to a solid Broomfield 3XI side in a match played on a bog in gale force winds.
The season moved into November and things weren’t looking too promising. Unsurprisingly, player availability also started to become an issue. I need to give special thanks to the 2XI and 3XI management and players who helped fill the gaps as and when required at that stage of the season.
Thankfully the cup competitions proved a distraction from our indifferent league form but sadly the results did not improve as we exited both the AFA Cup and the Old Boy’s Cup competitions in the first round.
The 4’s won the SAL Cup last season and were keen to retain their trophy. Victories against Old Salesians 2XI and South Bank Cuaco 4XI set up a Quarter Final against a Crouch End Vampires 7XI side who are made up of old 1XI and 2XI players and who only now play in cup competitions, arguably at a much lower standard than their ability would dictate. The Vampires were looking to overturn the defeat we handed them last season in the same competition and they eventually came out 3-2 winners in a fiercely fought match.
That match seemed to galvanise the players slightly and with Alex Brunning and Will Turner both hitting form, the goals started flying in. An almost ever present Wilson marshalled the meanest defence in the league and from the beginning of January the 4’s went on a 9 match run without defeat.
New players Marc Cecil and Ryan Donaghy joined the squad and provided some much needed depth and Steve Brown finished the season very strongly despite collecting a one match ban in the run in.
We have used around 40 different players during the course of this campaign and it is that lack of a consistent squad which has ultimately cost us a second successive league title. However, towards the end of the season the team has been much more stable and the results speak for themselves.
The current squad deserve a great deal of credit for the way they have finished the season. Today is our final game and (fingers firmly crossed) by the time you sit down to read this report the 4XI will have secured enough points for their second promotion in two years and the boys will be drinking their own bodyweight in Guinness.
I would like to pass on special thanks to Sutts for his help in running the side on the odd weekend when I am not around and to Alasdair and Dan Sell for encouraging a few of the new recruits to get involved.
Jon Robinson (4th Team Manager)