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Friday 10 May 2013

PL Schools: Stoke girls show guts for Anfield glory

Congleton High wins U13 category for Stoke, while Corpus Christi retains U11 for Fulham at Anfield

  • Holly Massey lifts the U13 trophy with her Congleton High schoolmates

  • Congleton High parade the newly created trophy that they won representing Stoke

  • Aston Villa's Stratford-upon-Avon High School finished runners-up at Anfield

  • Southampton's The Sholing Technology School won the fair-play trophy

Hollie Massey was lying motionless, face down on the Anfield turf injured. The captain of the Stoke City Under-13 girls’ team had just been hit hard in a tackle during the final of the Under-13 girls’ category of the Premier League Schools Tournament finals and it seemed her hopes of leading her team to a first triumph were over.

But showing bravery that would have graced Stoke’s players in the Barclays Premier League, Massey, of Congleton High, gingerly picked herself up and re-entered the fray. About a minute later she lifted her aching body to flick in the only goal as Stoke beat Aston Villa, who were represented by Stratford-upon-Avon High School.

At the final whistle Massy, an England Under-15 player, did not stay long for the celebrations, rushing down the Anfield tunnel to receive treatment, but she re-emerged to lift the new trophy that was especially created for the tournament.

“I went down quite hard, but we still had a job to do and we did it well,” Massy said. “We had a great turnout and a lot of classmates came along. It’s just been a great all along. I’d like to thank Stoke for helping us, too.”

"It has helped us to sell football to girls at the school"
Congleton High PE teacher

For Chris Naylor, PE Teacher at Congleton High, the victory proved an unmatched experience. “It’s absolutely amazing,” he said. “I have played football for the last 25 years and have never had an unbelievable feeling like this.

"They have been playing since primary school. Some play for clubs, some at academies, so we have just got a crop of talented players that you don’t get very often and it been good fun to work with them."

The trophy was a bonus for Congleton after what had been an “absolutely great day” for the girls, said Naylor.

“From being picked up from school, to arriving in Liverpool, staying in the hotel and having meals together as a team, getting to the stadium, going down the Anfield tunnel and having their photos taken with the Barclays Premier League trophy, they have loved it,” he said. “Doing it here at Anfield, with its history and the great things that have happened here is special.

“There has been a real buzz at the school this week. We’ve had 50 kids come over today to support. It has helped us to sell football to girls at the school and even today a couple of girls watching said to me that they would like to join and when does it start again. It is one of those where success breeds success.”

  • Fulham captain Jordan Aina, of Corpus Christi, with the new trophy

  • Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva with top scorer Jamal Musiala

  • Fulham's Jamal celebrates his equaliser in the final against Swansea

  • Swansea's Hendrefoilan Primary ran Fulham close in the final

  • Stoke's Under-11 team also took a trophy home, that of the fair-play award

Fulham retain Under-11s trophy

In the mixed Under-11s category, the denouement was just as exciting. Corpus Christi, representing Fulham, were back to defend the title they won last at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and they advanced to the semi-finals in ominous fashion.

Winning all four matches in Group D they had scored 18 goals and conceded none. In the last four they faced Everton’s Farnborough Road Junior School, who had won the title two years ago, when representing Liverpool, and also had a 100% record in the group stage.

Fulham blew them away with a 3-0 win to advance to the final to meet Swansea City, represented by Hendrefoilan Primary School. If Fulham were the favourites, Swansea had not read the script as they stunned their opponents with a goal within five seconds of the kick-off.

"This has put the school on the map and gets more people involved in football"
Corpus Christi PE teacher

Fulham recovered and began to dominate but it was not until the last five minutes that they turned it around. Jamal Musiala equalised with his eighth goal of the finals, earning him a trophy as leading scorer, and soon after Ben Elliot, who played last year, scored what proved to be the winner.

“Once the second goal went in I knew we had won,” said Fulham captain Jordan Aina, who was also at the Emirates Stadium. “It feels better than last year, especially with the new trophy, which looks cool. We had more experience. I was just excited.”

Tony Mesourouni, Corpus Christi's PE teacher, was proud of what his boys had done. “This year was harder because of the expectation after winning last year, especially having brought up so many supporters today,” he said. “It [the early goal] was a shock to the system, especially in a 10-minute game.

"But we got one and thankfully the second followed. This has put the school on the map and gets more people involved in football there, which is what it is all about.”

The runners-up in both categories also received trophies from Premier League Chairman Sir Dave Richards and Liverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva.

There were also special fair play awards for The Sholing Technology College, who represented Southampton in the U13 category, and Cheadle Primary School, who played in Stoke's colours in the U11s. These two schools were picked out by the Premier League referees who officiated in all the matches for having followed the code of conduct that had been laid out to the players. will publish the full results from the Premier League Schools Tournament finals shortly, with mroe photos from the event and video from Anfield.

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Key Points

  • Stoke City representatives Congleton High School win Premier League Schools Tournament in Under-13s category
  • Hollie Massey score only goal in final to seal 1-0 win over Aston Villa side represented by Stratford-upon-Avon High School.
  • Event took place at Anfield with winners receiving a replica of the Barclays Premier League Trophy