From The Chair
Firstly I’d like to offer my apologies for not being at the end of season dinner but due to the earlier date this season I’m still away at the moment.
As we approach the last couple of weeks of the season I’d like to once again personally thank everyone that has put their time and effort into the running of the club from the committee members, team managers, captains and players. I’d also like to thank Andy Ward and Ed Clark for all their efforts in making the pitches look superb again this season, we are extremely lucky to have such great pitches to play on every week.
A note of thanks must also go to John and Lynn for their continued help and support of the football club for another season.
On the pitch we now appear to be moving in the right direction after a tough couple of seasons although the same issues with some consistent player availability will unfortunately always remain as it does with many other SAL clubs.
The 1st XI, boosted by the return of some key players and the addition of some new signings, are on course to achieve their highest league points finish for a number of seasons. Although not challenging for silverware during this campaign, things are definitely moving in the right direction and we can look forward to being in the mix for the 2019/20 season.
Congratulations must go to the 4th XI on wining the Old Boys Cup and at the time of writing another promotion is hopefully on the cards for Robbo and his men.
We have been unlucky not to add to our trophy haul this season with the 3’s narrowly losing in the AFA final and also the 2’s in the Old Boys final, although the 2’s have the consolation of a second successive promotion and a return to the top league in the Intermediate section.
I’d like to also thank Gurts for all his efforts in running the Sunday Vets team (definitely not an easy task) and getting some players back into the club and involved in football again.
All I ask now is that you continue to support the club and make it even stronger for next season, hope you all have a great night, congratulations to all the individual winners and I’ll see you all soon for a drink or two
Chairman Old Owens FC
1st XI Review
With lots of uncertainty regarding player availability heading into the new campaign it was difficult to know what our aims would be. The previous season was extremely challenging in terms of availability, injuries and results so in order to have a more successful year it was vital for us to recruit new players.
The squad were boosted by the full time return of skipper Andrew Folan, central midfielder Andy Nolan and prolific striker Josh Thomson. However, the losses of Sam Dempsey (retirement), Mike Timotheou (relocation) and Adam Bullock (relocation) meant that we were a few players short. It's not easy to find players good enough to play at this level let alone to find ones who can help us challenge for honours. However, the Breeze senior & junior management team made the most of their football contacts and secured some vital signings. In came ex Owenian Luke Jupp, an attacking midfielder with great vision, creativity and an eye for goal; Tom Berman, an energetic left back with strong defensive and attacking qualities; Greg Ellingham, a superb young goalkeeper who previously played for Dave Breeze's Aldenham School 1st XI, Chesham & Edgware Town; and finally Luke Metselaar, another young ex Owenian with great defensive qualities.
The start of the league season couldn't have been trickier with an away trip to Polytechnic FC, who have won the SAL for the past 3 seasons and are arguably the best team the league has ever seen. However, it was the perfect indicator for us to know exactly where we were as a squad.
A slow start saw us go 1-0 down early on but a Sam Dawe equaliser on the stroke of half time gave us confidence going into the 2nd half. After the break we played with much more confidence and were a real threat on the break. Goals from Darragh Vieyra and Josh Thomson saw us go 3-1 up and even a Polytechnic consolation goal with 5 minutes to go wasn't enough to stop us from scoring a 4th through Peter Eguae after a superb Luke Jupp assist. So a 4-2 victory away to the reigning champions was the dream start and there was a feeling we had a real shot a having a successful season.
Unfortunately things didn't quite go to plan though. A disappointing 6-4 home defeat to Old Wilsonians in our next league game saw the momentum from the Polytechnic win halted and a further league defeat at home to West Wickham meant that a relegation battle was more likely than a title challenge.
Furthermore, consecutive defeats to Albanian and Old Suttonians in the AFA and Old Boys' cups respectively meant that any dreams of a cup run were over before November.
So all attention went back to the league. Good wins against Old Parkonians and Nottsborough saw us move back up the table. However, our inconsistency returned with a 2-1 defeat vs Winchmore Hill and a 1-1 draw against Old Wilsonians. This meant that realistically we were aiming for a 3rd place finish at best. A pair of back to back wins against Old Actonians and Old Garchonians (both 3-1) either side of Christmas meant we were in a decent position to achieve this but a run of 2 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats prior to the final game of the season meant that the highest possible finish for us is 4th (final game v Nottsborough today).
In many ways the season has been disappointing. We were forced to part ways with veteran forward Peter Eguae after one too many unsavoury off and on-field incidents and we failed to mount a serious challenge for any silverware. However, this season leaves me full of optimism and hope for the following reasons:-
The commitment of the majority of the squad was much improved.
The squad is as young as it has been for years.
The atmosphere in the changing room is great and the lads are brilliant.
Our new signings have added much needed quality. In my opinion Greg Ellingham is the best keeper in the league and has added much needed security to our back line; Luke Jupp has been a revelation in the attacking midfield role scoring 12 and assisting 6 goals; Tom Berman has been one of our most consistent players in the left back/wing back position and will be missed when he goes back to uni to complete the final year of his studies in Bath; Luke Metselaar came in midway through the season to form an excellent partnership with Charles Douse and was missed at the back end of the season when he had to stop playing to have an operation; Finally, the return of Iain Salt after a year and a half playing semi-pro football at Cockfosters gave us added physicality, energy, leadership and experience in the heart of the midfield.
There is an excellent blend of experience, youth and quality in the squad.
The addition of Tim Dugan to the management team has been a huge bonus.
We have achieved a minimum of 29 league points for the season which is our highest since winning the league back in 2013/14 (40pts).
Further new signings are expected with the return of a strong Owens school year group from university as well as a good group of current Owens School players coming through.
The recruitment of a new left back to replace the departing Tom Berman will be a priority but if the remaining group of players remain committed and injury free I am extremely positive for a successful and enjoyable 2019/20 season.
Goal of the season = Geo Craig's Van Basten esc volley vs Winchmore Hill.
On-field highlight of the season = The opening day 4-2 win vs reigning champs Polytechnic.
Off-field highlight of the season = Team night out in Kings Cross/Camden after the Actonians game.
Thanks for reading.
David Breeze (1st Team Manager)
2nd XI Review
If you’re reading this and we’ve won our final game of the season 16-0 then put it down and join our title celebration. On the safe assumption that we haven’t here’s our Season Report for 2018/19.
Coming off the back of Owens first ever AFA Cup and league double, expectations were high. The fans and players dreamed of another two trophies, but back to back promotions was the only non negotiable target. The season got off to a shaky start as we lost 5-2 at Lyonians. We were short due to the weirdos that prefer cricket to football and goalkeeping errors cost us any chance of getting into the game.
With a full squad back, the 2s quickly regained momentum. Niall Gurhey was banging goals like a prime Gareth Bale (minus the pace), Mitch was banging in goals for fun (but somehow still moaning at everyone) and Marcus was looking like a Greek god and playing like one too. Jesse and Sean Quinn were holding the midfield down nearly as well as Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko at the Nou Camp. The run to Christmas saw 11 wins, from 12. We went into Christmas in red hot form with a 6-2 away win in the cup against NUFC Oilers, but paid the price as we lost Danny Clarke to a still undiagnosed but probably serious knee injury.
2019 came and the quadruple was on the minds. AFA Quarter Finals, OBC semifinals, SALC last 16 and games in hand to put us top of Div 2. We were boosted by the signing of Nick Burtenshaw from the MLS and the return of Spencer from long term injury. Unfortunately our team is mostly made of reprobates and addicts, and the heavy Christmas break took its toll. We dropped a costly 2 points away at AP in our first game, before crashing out of the league cup to Old Parks 3s. With a huge AFA quarter final away at Nottsborough, the team was in crisis. Midweek gaffer conferences, tactical rethinks and a new formation. 4-4fucking2 and back to basics. It worked well, 1-0 up, 1-1 and into extra time, Jesse puts us 2-1 with 15 mins of extra time to go. Unfortunately no formation can stop Ben chucking the ball in his own goal, and we concede again in the last minute to lose 3-2.
Another loss but a return to some form ahead of another cup game away at Wilsonians for the OBC Semi. A cagey game locked at 1-0 Owens, before an injured Deeks steps off the bench, nicks the ball from the centre back and slots it through the keepers legs to put Owens through to the final and send the 7 fans on the touchline wild. We followed it up with another 6 wins in a row, including 12-1 at Finchleians and a 2-0 away win at Parks that made us favourites for the title and secure promotion back to Div 1.
The season ended with disappointment, we lost a tight cup final 2-1 at Parks and threw away the title losing 5-2 at Civil Service, so barring a miracle on the final day we’ll finish 2nd and trophyless. But ultimately back to back promotions is what we set out to achieve 2 years ago and that’s what we’ve done. Thanks to the boys that travelled across London multiple times, the committee for organising everything and supporting us, and everyone that made it through the season without rage-quitting the groupchat. See you next season in the top div.
3rd XI Review
This season has been a mixed bag on the field but we have been prolific off it.
On the field our league form a shambles and availability even worse. However we’ve enjoyed 3 cup runs, including a 7 game AFA cup run that saw us narrowly pipped to winning the trophy against a team 2 divisions above us – an achievement to really be proud of.
Off the field is where we really shone this season, availability excellent, drinking like league winners every week, putting ourselves in financial ruin, destroyed relationships and above all upsetting Mike the barman on a weekly basis... quite the achievement lads, it’s been an absolute pleasure… Roll on next season!! - Phil.
Another year, another season over! It has been a lot easier than most recent seasons due to a lot of different factors but mainly from my point of view having Phil Riley managing with me this year and his work on selection really made the biggest difference, he is a true asset to the club and I can’t thank enough for his work and dedication this year.
We nearly had the perfect cup run but in the end it was the almost but not quite amazing AFA cup run, which we just fell short at the last hurdle, reaching the final and just losing out, was one of the most windy and awful conditions to ever play football in, but we just fell short losing 2-1 even if the video evidence proves Fidler scored a bullet header with only a few seconds left, no amount of appeals would of convinced the ref as he really didn’t want to go to extra time. But we left everything on that pitch and everyone should hold their heads up for their performance that day! We also got the quarter finals of the Old boys cup, we had a good group of core lads that helped the 3’s complete the season. Well when I am writing this we still have three games left. Two when you are reading this at the club dinner! Hopefully a draw or win today keeping us from relegation! Which hopefully sets up a 3’s vs 4’s in the league next year! We all miss the rivalry this brings to the club!
I want to thank all the committee members for their work this year and of course Robbo for his work for the club and everything he does! – Will.
4th XI Review
The Transfer Window 2018-2019
The majority of players from last season stayed together and the gaffer made a few quality signings (Sean Blundell and Noel Thomas the most notable) during the closed season. There was also an influx of youth with 6 or 7 Potters Bar United players joining the club and looking to take the step up to adult football.
The hope was that the youth would flourish and reduce the average age of the 4’s squad quite considerably. Unfortunately the playing ability was varied. Some tried hard/talked a good game but ultimately didn’t quite make the required grade. Others had clearly never kicked a ball before but wanted to get involved. I don’t necessarily want to name and shame those individuals here but there is one exception. Despite not being able to successfully take a throw-in or run more than 20 yards in his solitary appearance, Fizz was in exceptional form on the side-lines. The highlight was when he was sent off while spectating. And yes, Fizz. We all agree, he was “one blind mother*cker”.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the young players. Tommy Jones-Fuller has been almost ever present for us this season and Matthew Horsewood and Bradley Rides put in some decent performances when called upon to don the red and black shirt. All three players have contributed with vital goals at different stages during the campaign and we will be looking for them to progress again next season and secure regular starting spots.
The result of all of this transfer activity was a very large squad and it was rare that we ever turned out on a Saturday without 14 players, even if one of those was Hangover who, it seems, was still registered with Winchmore Hill and playing for us under a false identity (what an idiot).
Seb Garber returned to the fold during the January transfer window and it was like having a new signing just when the squad needed a lift. Seb has contributed with 5 goals during the run-in. It is certainly good to have him back.
The 4’s have used a total of 31 players in all competitions this season and I am pleased to say that members of our squad have played for every team at the club this year from 1XI through to Vets, helping out when other sides needed players. The way it should be.
The 4’s boast the meanest defence in the league for the second consecutive season. Some of that is down to any absence of quality in the strikers they face each week but the years of combined experience across the back line certainly make them very difficult to play against.
Goal keeping duties have been shared this season between the safe hands and old/tired legs of Wilson (out of retirement yet again), Brunning Snr and Robbo (who got an assist against EOG’s).
Any combination of Dan Sell (loves a toe punt), Noel Thomas (loves a tackle), Alasdair Coulson (loves a new car), Lawrence Harkness (loves a holiday), Jack Riley (loves a penalty) and Kieren Pendrell-Smith played across the back as the gaffer experimented with different formations depending on the personnel at his disposal.
Sutts was again the immoveable object in CM and his head was more often than not in the right place at the right time as the skipper weighed in with an impressive 9 goals in 17 appearances. Not bad for a big lad. Sean Blundell’s energy and ability in midfield has been greatly missed since he moved to Berlin and he had a great debut season for the 4’s up to that point. Dan Brown has been unlucky not to play more this season. He was a victim of the new selection policy and a one week ski trip resulted in a month in the wilderness whilst waiting for his opportunity to get back into the side. Marc Cecil is Mr reliable in CM when available and Seb Garber has given us some much needed pace out wide in the latter part of the season. The less said about Hangover the better. Joe Lang has been unlucky with injury this year and has only featured at either end of the campaign but has contributed when fit. James Armstrong broke with tradition this season and was available for a number of away games and Luke Watling has been involved whenever he is not working. Both players adding quality when they are available.
The attacking force that is Will Turner has bagged 12 goals this season and he remains our leading scorer despite missing most of the season either playing his iPod into the early hours at Mahiki/Raffles or serving a ban for his Eric Cantona style karate kick away at Old Parkonians. Prez completed his migration to the 4’s and had been in good form before injury forced him to recover over a Gin or 5. That has left Brunning to lead the line for most of the season. On his day he is unplayable and scored 4 goals in the OBC Semi-Final to ensure victory but he can be frustrating in equal measure. We will definitely need him firing in the final two league games and it would be great for him to add to his season tally of 10. Tommy Jones-Fuller has done well when called upon during his first adult season and the whole squad is looking forward to being guests of honour at his Mum’s wedding in a few weeks.
The 4’s were promoted last season and started life in Minor Division 2 without much expectation of challenging for the top places. Things didn’t get off to a great start suffering a 2-3 defeat in the opening game against EBOG’s at home and losing 3-1 against an experienced Old Finchleians side a few games later.
However, our back line has always been solid and that gave us a great platform from which to build. We managed to grind out results in the league and slowly started moving up the table. The positive results continued and has left us needing 3 points from our last 2 games to seal promotion for the third time in three years.
Points dropped in two fixtures against Winchmore Hill 5’s had seemed to rule out the league title. However, Finchleians, who had looked odds-on to win the division, have dropped points in recent games and with maximum points in the final two games the 4’s could still win the league and complete an unlikely double. Is it happening again?
The 4’s had won the SAL Cup two years ago and hoped to do well in that competition again this season. Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out that way and poor spot kicks from Dan Sell and Jack Riley saw the 4’s exit the SAL Cup on penalties against Old Salesians in only the second round.
We were not expected to make much progress in the AFA cup and those predictions certainly came true. Narrowly progressing past Old Minchendians on penalties in the first round we then lost 2-4 against a very talented Winchmore Hill 4XI who should arguably be playing much higher.
The 4’s did much better in the OBC and a hard fought 1-0 win over current holders Old Parmetarians (who were unbeaten all season up to that point) set up a semi-final away against Old Wilsonians. Despite being 1-0 down within 2 minutes the boys rallied and eventually came out 5-3 winners. Graeme Wilson then went to work as fixture secretary and managed to engineer a home Cup Final where we secured the trophy with a 1-0 win over Old Bealonians.
This 4’s have been put firmly in the shade by the exceptional social performance of 2’s and 3’s this season. Despite the promise of beers from the gaffer during his team talk every week, the squad beers/socials that we have enjoyed in previous seasons have been sadly missing this year.
The lack of post-game drinking practice was clearly evident following the OBC Final when Sutts was asleep at the bar and Dan Sell was offering to fight any man, woman or child who (rightly) refused to serve him. All before 9pm.
We must clearly do better and extra hours in the bar/prosecco bombs are required to get the squad back to its previous performance levels. Hopefully we will be able to hone our skills following the final league game on 27th April and during the open top bus tour of London, currently planned for 7th June.
Our success this season has involved every member of our squad and I would like to personally thank all 31 players for their patience and understanding, particularly with the selection policy that has been applied for certain fixtures. It is never just about the 14 on the team sheet and the support that everyone has shown this season has made my job much easier than it otherwise could be.
Special mentions needs to go to Sutts, Al and Dan Sell for their help in running the side again this year.
In my role as Club Secretary I also want to pass on my thanks to every member of the Committee who helps to run this great club. Without them giving up their spare time you would not be able to play football or attend events such as this. Special mention needs to go Graeme Wilson does a huge amount of work behind the scenes ensuring that all players are registered correctly, that referees are organised each week and that the fixtures all run smoothly.
The facilities we have at Old Owens are also the envy of a lot of other clubs. The pitches in particular this year have been incredible. Thanks must go to Wardy and Ed Clark for their hard work. A personal thank you also goes to Ed for his help in setting everything up for the two OBC Finals that we hosted on 30th March.
Finally, thank you to John, Lynn and the rest of their team for their work this year in organising match day hospitality and for frequently putting up with a few loud and proud Owenians, often quite late into the night.
It has certainly been a successful season on and off the pitch and planning for 2019-2020 will soon be underway. We can always do with extra volunteers and if you would like to get involved and have a say in how this great club is run please let either me or Cheeko know.
Jon Robinson (4th Team Manager)