Buckswood u16s travelled to St Andrews, the home ground of Championship side Birmingham City, to play against Batley Grammar School from Leeds in the England Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) finals. The match saw Buckswood beat Batley by three goals to one.
This is the first year that the tournament has been held, with Buckswood playing in seven rounds over the course of eight months and notching up 19 goals with only three conceded. The u16 team was made up of players from the Buckswood Senior Football Academy and students from the school roll. Archie Davies was named Buckwood’s player of the tournament and the final’s man of the match. Archie currently trains with the Buckswood Football Academy and has been signed to Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Buckswood u16s are nicknamed The Lions and entered the ESFA tournament in round two, when they beat Lingfield Notre Dame 2-0. In the third round they beat visitors Ursuline College from Thanet 4-1 before scoring a 4-0 victory over nearby Battle Abbey. January’s quarter-finals saw Buckswood beating tournament favourites Ibstock Place School in Richmond by two goals to nil and going on to play South Nottinghamshire Academy in February’s semi-finals. A 4-1 victory took Buckswood to the final in Birmingham and victory over Batley.
A spokesperson for the school said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the football team and the school as a whole. Mr Sutton has commented that he hasn’t ever experienced such an ‘all in it together’ moment as he did when everyone at school including not only the scholars, but also the staff in the stables, chefs, kitchen porters, coach drivers, maintenance team, grounds staff, housekeeping team, teachers and house staff were waiting in anticipation for news of the final as it progressed. Upon hearing the result hearty congratulations were offered up from all quarters. Consequently, he has announced that one afternoon in the near future the whole school will be off timetable as a reward.
“The approach to sports at Buckswood has always been a professional one. You won’t find the geography teacher taking rugby, but instead a highly qualified, experienced team of ex-professional sports men, women and athletes, passing on the benefit of their experiences to the next generation. The school has a philosophy of ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ and the Buckswood Lions victory is testament to the hours of training from the players and the dedication of the coach.”
This season has also seen a Buckswood pupil signing for a major British club, one player on the verge of a possible AC Milan signing and the announcement that, as of September, the school will launch a Junior Football Academy in association with the Chelsea Football Club Foundation.