Success in football brings its own peculiar difficulties, and there is not much doubt that the 1961-62 season, one in which we rejoined the Walthamstow Schools Football Association, was both successful and difficult. We ran our usual five regular weekly teams with Saturday fixtures, as well as the two Wednesday fixtures for the First and Second Elevens, but besides this we entered for five local cup competitions, and had boys playing nearly every week in district or representative games. One result of so many boys gaining representative honours this year, was that it was very difficult to field the strongest teams on Saturday. The First Eleven and Under 15 teams suffered particularly in this respect, and the master in charge of each team tended to bewail the loss of his star players to district elevens
Labrom was selected for the Football Alliance Public Schools' Team at Christmas, which convincingly beat an F.A. Youth Team of Young Professionals 5-2 at Catford. Pearman played for the London Schools F.A. team at Hampden Park which drew with Glasgow Schoolboys, and he also played for the London Schools' Team which thrashed the Public Schools' Eleven 9-1 at Roehampton. Both Labrom and Pearman have been invited to play in Spurs' youth teams at White Hart Lane. Wenham, Willis, Jolly and Anderson have played regularly in the brilliant Walthamstow Senior Side which reached the last eight of the English Schools' Trophy Competition, and which has since been so successful in other competitions. Church, Watts and Behling played for the Under 14 District side, and Sundler and Addington for the Under 13.
All of this has meant constant headaches for the regular teams, but on the whole their play has been keen and encouraging. The First Eleven, after the previous season's brilliance, was a little disappointing, but did play some good football. The Second Eleven, with its varied and merry crew, was more successful than we could have hoped for when the season began. The Under 15 team again played excellent football, and the Under 13 team, except for some early lethargy in each game, was perhaps the most promising team of all. The Under 14 team again revealed irresponsibility in tactics but much more heart in play, and the keenness of the Under 12 team augurs well for next season.
In the local cups the School did well. The Under 14's reached the semi-final of the School's Cup, whilst the Under 15's won the Horniman Shield and the Under 13's won the Junior Shield.
The climax of the competitive football was, of course, the Lipton Trophy, for which this year there was a record entry of 55 Schools. How near we came to winning it at our first attempt after a lapse of years! The Lipton team in 7 games scored 35 goals, with only 7 against, and reached the final, only to lose 3-1 to a very fine Acton team. Few who saw it will forget the excellence of the semi-final game, when we beat a gallant McEntee team 4-2.
But enough of honours, cups and trophies. As a School we did not enter these competitions in order to "pot-hunt", and we hope that no boy felt a medal was more important than the game. At the moment there is a great enthusiasm for football throughout the School, encouraged in particular by the efforts of Messrs. Shaw, Chambers and Carter. I thank them for their invaluable help throughout the year, and also the refereeing assistance of other colleagues. Seldom could one approach the telephone in the staff room without seeing one member of the games staff fixing up a football fixture, and rarely did an evening pass without a member of Staff refereeing or coaching. Last year, with the north fields ploughed up (and not before time!) there will be greater headaches to face, but I am sure 1962-63 will be an excellent season if the present standard is maintained.
Lastly, I am sure all who have played games of any kind would like to send their best wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery to our groundsman, Mr. Ames. We hope to see him again soon.
REVIEW: The First Eleven
Although this season was only average for the School, the success of the team varied tremendously. After a rather shaky start to the season, the team settled down, and began to play some fine football. Indeed, up to Christmas the first eleven had won the majority of its matches and had enjoyed a period of ten games when they remained unbeaten by another school side. It was during this successful run that the side had outstanding victories over strong Buckhurst Hill and Southend sides. Two other memorable matches were the 9-1 thrashing of the Essex Institute of Agriculture, and the exciting game with Palmers, which ended in a draw.
Soon after Christmas the team fell to pieces, and suffered a run of eleven games without a win. Seldom has there been such a transformation of a side in such a short space of time. Before Christmas the team often won through sheer enthusiasm and fighting spirit, but this mysteriously disappeared over Christmas. The team became apathetic and began to expect defeat. This lapse of form can partly be explained by the long absence of two leading goalscorers, Labrom and Wenham, for the team lacked a spearhead. With constant team changes, due to injuries and representative matches, the forward line lacked the cohesion and confidence that comes with a settled side. The defence did not really lose form quite so completely as the attack, but it managed to concede a goal in each match unnecessarily.
The side seemed to return to something like its pre-Christmas form at the end of the season, and had a few convincing victories. This recovery seemed to bear testimony to the fact that when the School fielded a full side they were still a force to be reckoned with.
I should like to take this opportunity to extend the team's thanks to Ludlow, who as football secretary arranged one of the fullest fixture lists since the war; and also to the boys and masters who have readily given up much free time to prepare the teas and referee the matches. The appreciation of the 1st XI for Mr. Marshall's unstinting support and encouragement cannot be overstressed, and finally I should like to pay tribute to Mr. Dade who has admirably taken over from Mr. Ames in the preparation of the pitches.