Schools from the London Borough of Barnet took the titles in the Middlesex Round of the 2022-23 Pokémon Cup.
The Pokémon Cup is the English Schools’ FA’s national small-sided competition for Primary Schools. The County Round took place on Wednesday 18th January at The Hive London, the home of Barnet FC. Each of the eight boroughs in the Association’s catchment area is entitled to send a representative who has won their place via local competitions. Despite cold conditions, five boys teams and four girls teams put on a hugely entertaining and competitive afternoon of football.
The early matches were low-scoring affairs between evenly matched teams. The first team to score more than once in a game were Alma from Barnet, who beat Harrow’s West Lodge 3-0. In a sign of what was to come later, Alma then drew 1-1 with St Mary’s (Haringey) before St George’s (Enfield) beat West Lodge 4-0 to record the highest winning margin of the day.
After St Mary’s won their final two games to book a place in the Final, the last fixture of the Group Stage saw Alma play last season’s runners-up, St George’s. St George’s hadn’t conceded a goal in their first three matches and went into the game level on points with the Barnet school and with a better goal difference. However, needing to win to reach the Final, the smallest school taking part – Alma – won 2-0 to eliminate St George’s.
|St Mary's (N8) (Haringey)||4||2||2||0||5||2||3||8|
|St George's (Enfield)||4||2||1||1||5||2||3||7|
|West Lodge (Harrow)||4||1||0||3||2||9||-7||3|
|Blessed Dominic (Barnet)||4||0||0||4||0||6||-6||0|
The Final brought together two schools who had gone unbeaten through the group stage: Alma and St Mary’s. With the championship on the line, the two schools put on an outstanding exhibition of football. Alma eventually won an extremely close game 2-1 to take the title. Because Alma would have qualify for the Small Schools’ Pokémon Cup, they will represent the County in the Regional Round of the competition, with runners-up St Mary’s nominated to represent Middlesex in the Boys tournament.
The four schools who took part in the Girls event were so evenly matched that every match in the group stage ended either 1-0 or 0-0. However, one school emerged from the round-robin phase with three wins from their three games; Foulds, from Barnet.
|Muswell Hill (Haringey)||3||1||1||1||1||1||0||4|
|West Lodge (Harrow)||3||0||0||3||0||3||-3||0|
Foulds were ultimately joined in the Final by Muswell Hill, meaning that – just like the Boys Final – the championship would go to either Barnet or Haringey. Foulds had beaten Muswell Hill 1-0 in the group stage and would repeat the trick in the deciding match; their single goal proving enough to ensure they will represent Middlesex in the Regional stage of the competition.
“An exceptional standard”
Middlesex Schools’ Football Association Chairman, Bob Chandler presented the medals to the winners and runners-up at the end of the afternoon, assisted by Kevin Bassett, School Games Organiser for Harrow, who managed the tournament on the Association’s behalf. Mr Chandler praised all the teams who took part, commenting that the two competitions had been played to “an exceptional standard. There was a lot of skill on show and all the teams should be proud of their contribution to the day”.
The Association would like to thank Dan Barton of the Barnet FC Foundation for making the facilities at The Hive London available to us, the referees who did an excellent job throughout the afternoon and Kevin Bassett for doing a fantastic job of running the event on the day. Our most important ‘thank you’ goes to the players who took part and to the teachers and parents who helped make that happen. You were all fantastic.