Sat 14 Dec 2019 07:18

Sheppey's under 11 squad travelled to Canterbury for the East Kent Festival with a depleted but confident team. With only two subs, it was going to be hot work despite the bitter cold. Sheppey were pooled in league 2 with hosts Canterbury, Sittingbourne and Dover. The opening match against Canterbury was to be the benchmark of Sheppey's play as with great forward play and superb line speed from the backs, it was Sheppey who ran out winners with an excellent Joe Collier try in the second half to the audible disbelief from the crowd. In the second match against Sittingbourne, Sheppey went ahead early with a great run from Will McColl resulting in the first try of the game. Some quick changes were needed after Sheppey lost Joe Collier in front row for a high tackle, and with Sittingbourne equalising, Sheppey managed to hold their opponents to the draw.The third match of the day saw Sheppey go top of the league and knock hosts Canterbury out of the competition with a strong win against Dover. After their scare against Sittingbourne, Sheppey went back to basics and concentrated on teamwork. With more great moves from the powerful Sheppey pack and the backs shipping the ball out at pace the first half saw Joe Coller, Will McColl and scrumhalf Jack Evans all score. Sheppey kept up the pressure in the second half and the result was increased to 4 - 0 when Jake Haggis ran the line to score in the corner.
Sheppey were now into the finals with Folkstone and Ashford A. It has to be said that at this point in previous seasons Sheppey were heading for the carpark and an early bath at home. So, it was with true sincerity that I asked our able hosts "What the hell happens now?".
The finals would eventually see a battered and bruised Sheppey, now without subs due to injury, run out in their final match to a massive chorus of cheers from the spectators, who had nothing but praise for the youngsters and the effort they had put in. With nothing to lose Sheppey gave everything they had left, and despite an epic effort to win and Ashfords u11's calls of encouragement, finally bowed to Folkstones speed and finished in third place in the East Kent Festival. Although everyone gave their all, Lauren Walters was crowned player of the tournament. I have never been so proud of a team as I was today. The effort and work rate that they gave was immense and they deserve every piece of praise that they recieved. A special mention however must go to missing player Katie Kew who attended and succeeded at the Kent u13 girls selection day. Onwards and upwards.