June 14th saw William Hulme’s Grammar School and Shoreham Academy face off in both the Boys’ and Girls’ United Learning National Football Finals.
Having won the North and South competitions respectively, it was sure to be an exciting afternoon and the two matches did not disappoint.
In the boys’ game, WHGS began strongly but could not find a way past Toby in the Shoreham goal. With their Number 17 dominating midfield, WHGS created a few chances early on but were unable to break through. As the game developed, Shoreham came more into it and began to create chances of their own. They also looked tighter at the back, with Captain Joe marshalling WHGS's dangerous Number 9 well.
However, despite both teams playing attractive football and having chances on the break, neither school could grab the only goal that was likely to win the game. Extra time could not provide a winner either, so it was left to the dreaded penalties to decide the destination of the trophy. With saves, misses, and terrific shots, the shoot-out went to the ninth round, with Shoreham coming out on top and being crowned national champions. Having been runners-up in 2014, the south coast side finally had their hands on the trophy.
Could they repeat the feat in the girls’ match or would WHGS ensure a share of the spoils?
Another tight match ensued, with girls from both teams playing with élan and determination in equal measure. Clearly many of them have been watching the Women's World Cup currently taking place in Canada and learning from their idols. The game flowed from end to end, with both goalkeepers excelling and producing a range of saves. Shoreham's Number 10 fired in several testing shots, so it was no surprise when she broke the deadlock early in the second half. However, the spirits of Shoreham's travelling supporters were only elevated for a short while, as WHGS equalised shortly afterwards through their Number 16. The tension was palatable as chances for both teams came and went. Both goalkeepers thwarted opponents when faced with 1v1 situations, before Shoreham's Number 10 again showed her class by smashing in the winner.
So it was Shoreham who took the honours in both tournaments, but WHGS can take great pride not only in being the Northern winners, but in representing their school and region with such skill and commitment. The United Learning core values of respect and determination were in great evidence throughout the finals, but it is Shoreham Academy who returned to the south coast as double national champions for 2015.