The following article was written by one of the U15s players as part of his work experience with our website hosts, Effra Digital. An honest account of a typical grassroots season, straight from the horse’s mouth! Big thank you to Effra Digital for supporting our players off the pitch, and to our U15s kit sponsor, McEvoy Maintenance.

Where do we start? A season of ups and downs with wins, losses, draws, the whole lot. The start of the season kicking it off strong with a good run of winning games. The team feeling electric and confident that we could go out this season and win this league and dominate everyone, but then come October it starts to go down hill and starts to crumble before our eyes.

Players not being committed to the team, team not playing how we usually play, bad energy, silly behaviour, disrespect fully all over the place. Our coach even letting us know that there are sometimes he wants to ‘stop coaching‘, leaving us in disbelief because he’s been with most of us since we were 9 years old!

Our Coach – Marcus

Which leads me on to the one and only… the man behind the board, writing tactics, deciding who to bring to the game, deciding who to start and bench – our coach Marcus. This man has been with most of us since U10s. He’s seen the development, the growth in most of us, seeing how far we’ve come and it’s crazy to think that we only have one more season with this man. He’s a coach full of ambition and he loves helping us, he loves to win. He’s no ordinary coach who is always strict and wants you to do this or that. He likes too let loose with us, he likes too have banter with us, join in our conversations or debates that we have about football, music, clothes, etc.

Marcus is a great coach and I can talk for all the boys when I say he’s always helped us a lot, whether we lose, win or draw, if we’re having a bad day he loves to help and I think every coach has to have that sweet spot in them. There are times when he’s moody, angry because maybe were not listening to him and we’re driving him insane but he still finds a way to be positive and he is still learning to become a top coach.

New players / Leaving players

This season we had to say a lot of goodbyes to some key players but we also said a lot of hellos to new players. We’ve had to say goodbye to our captain who played RB, we’ve said goodbye to our LB who was a key player for us. And would you believe me when I  say we lost our only GK for nearly half of the season? Which means we had to take players who haven’t played in goal, who are not GKs and play them in goal. Absolutely nerve wracking and a huge loss but then what did we go and do? We g o and sign a brand new keeper from a local school, Trinity Academy – and listen, if you see this boy in goal you would think he’s Alison! Dive, kick , jump, distribution – this boy has it all. We also signed a new midfielder, Alfonso, slick, cheeky, finds the gaps to put the attackers in. He came midway through the season and he’s still finding his way to break into the starting 11 as we have so many midfielders to choose from,but I feel like he’s a player that has huge potential and see a lot in him.

End Of Season Review

This season was a big step for all of us growing up, taking responsibility and accountability for ourselves. We’ve had to make huge decisions considering it’s a year where we start our GCSE course and our parents wanting us to do well and focus on school so we can go into year 11 next year and get the best grades we can possibly can. But we’ve made it through once again with another season done, 3rd place in the league, goals galore with people scoring overhead kicks from corners (that was me if you didn’t know), free kicks, volleys , 30-yard screamers, bullet headers ripping through the net, team goals and individual goals, all helping to keeping the team sprit alive. So much character is in this team and you wouldn’t even imagine how we all have a laugh, we all have our funny moments, we all have our serious moments and that’s what makes a good team … that’s what brings all the boys together to come out on a rainy Saturday morning for a 10am kick off, just to have some fun and to play football with your mates.

I mean, what else would you want to do on a Saturday morning other than play football with your good mates as a team, as a unit, as a family? We’re all in this together and even though we didn’t want to finish the back end of the season with two draws and a loss, we still stuck by each other as brothers, as a family, and believe me when I say next season it’s going to be one to remember! Our last season at St. Matthew’s, as U16s and we’re going to make it count, we are going to win a cup and we are going to win the big one – the league. And when we do it’s going to be the sweetest thing to end our St. Matthew’s journey. A wise man once said: ‘I want you to play for the badge and play like you mean it and when you do, you will achieve so much as a team’.

The Next Step For U16s

U16s will be a tough year. With GCSEs on our minds 24/7 and all the other drama we might have going on in our lives it’s going to be hard. Some of our commitments might increase and we might have to go to a tutor instead of training, or we might have to miss a league game on a Saturday because we have to revise for a mock exam we have coming up or because we’re not quite so familiar with the subject. But that won’t stop us and I think I can speak for all the boys when I say that because we know our ability, we know our players’ great talent, and when I say great talent I genuinely mean it. Our back line is unbeatable – a brick wall, our midfield so cheeky, visionary, technical, and our attack, I don’t even think I need to talk about our attack, you just need to come and see for yourself.

Next season we want to win a trophy 100%, whether it’s a cup or the league we want to win a trophy. We want to improve more as a team trying new things together, different shapes, tactics, etc. And I also think that the players can take some structure going into our games, for example, let’s say the coach gives us a formation to play in and it’s not working and we need to try something different. I think the players can really talk to each other and say to each other ‘This formation isn’t working, we need to change it’ and then in a game we could change the formation for what works well for us – kind of shock the manager a bit and play our best. But a trophy is what I’d say is calling us right now… we deserve one, we need one and we are going to get one next season mark my words!

From Marlys (SMFC U15s)