On 12th October 2020, Claremont U14s were crowned ESFA Small Schools’ Champions 2020/21 after a stunning 4-0 victory against Repton School. Having achieved the same national champion status in the U13 age group in 2019, this phenomenally talented group of young players consistently deliver on the pitch, and against classy opposition at Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, the boys once again did not disappoint.
Both sides had played some exceptionally strong teams to book their places in the final, but with both teams evenly matched and Repton defending well in monsoon-like conditions, it was only in first-half of stoppage time that the first goal came, put away calmly by Jaydon Fuller, off a terrific through-ball from Archie McGonigle. Ten minutes into the second half it was Fuller again who found the back of the net following some wonderful link up play once again with McGonigle. Then in 57th minute in a performance reminiscent of the 2019 final against Boroughbridge High School, Jaydon Fuller, a “natural born predator” on the pitch who is already on the books of Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion, secured his hattrick in great style, from a confident Charlie Glasper throw-in and a beautifully weighted link pass across the box from Caleb Moore. Just seconds from full time and victory in the bag, McGonigle in space with support on both sides, beat two defenders to score what the commentator described as an “absolutely outrageous” goal right into the top corner and off the stanchion. This ensured the boys in sky blue, led by an inspirational captain in Will de Wilde, finished with a flurry having secured 14 straight wins throughout the competition on their way to becoming national champions for the second consecutive year. Other notable performances came from Charlie Ives who was playing in only his second match for Claremont, Rohan Sharma with his surging runs through midfield and Josh Woodliffe whose slick organisation of the backline kept Repton’s attacking balls at bay and pressure off goalie Jacob Watson. Subs Lucas D’Oliveira and Marley Neill brought a fresh injection of pace to the second half whilst Arthur Amber-Perrin and Barney Mitchell made a formidable duo; both industrious and skillful in their play and managing to win every ‘one versus one’. On Twitter, Jaydon Fuller and Josh Woodliffe were chosen as the two Claremont players up for ‘Man of the Match’, with Fuller in the end stealing 56% of the public vote.
Claremont Coach Jim Colston said “I am extremely proud of the boys and how together they are as a team. During preparations we spent some time focusing on our gameplay OUT of possession and that certainly showed in our work rate, effort, and commitment throughout the match. We were solid at the back, fluent in the midfield and clinical upfront so I feel the boys totally deserved this win today!”
This sensational Claremont team hasn’t lost a game in normal time in any competition over the last two seasons and would have relished the opportunity to assert themselves on the Lilleshall pitch once again for the Final of the Elite Cup competition, but following ongoing concerns around COVID-19, ESFA has declared Claremont and Wright Robinson College joint winners of this year’s competition. Although disappointing the boys should be exceptionally proud of themselves, as to add to their national title, they can also lay claim to being one of the top two Elite teams in the country.
Claremont U14 Players: Jacob Watson, Arthur Amber-Perrin, Barney Mitchell, Charlie Glasper, Josh Woodliffe, Charlie Ives, Will de Wilde(c), Rohan Sharma, Caleb Moore, Archie McGonigle, Jaydon Fuller. Subs: Lucas D’Oliveira, Marley Neill Coach: Jim Colston