In a closely contested final, the boys overcame St James’ School who represented AFC Bournemouth. Despite going a goal behind, the boys, captained by Jensen Myerscough, came through as 3-1 winners as they took centre stage at Wembley prior to the SkyBet Championship play-off final between Derby County and QPR.
It was the southern team that opened the scoring. An instinctive tip onto the bar by Bolton goalkeeper Myerscough saw the ball drop to St James’ striker who bundled in from four yards. After this the Bolton players seemed to settle and began to stamp their authority on the game, peppering former Cherries keeper Vince Bartram’s son’s goal. An equaliser came after a patient build up saw Jameson Goloba go down after a careless challenge in the box. Goloba quietly picked himself up and emphatically dispatched the penalty. It was half-time and Bolton was back in the game, much to the relief of coach Mike Duxbury and assistant Andy Woodhead as well as watching parents, staff and friends from the school.
Buoyed by their goal, the boys started the second half brightly and quickly found themselves ahead in the tie. Despite an initial save from the Cherries’ goalkeeper, Joshua Stephenson’s shot trickled in, sparking scenes of jubilation amongst the Bolton boys.
With just minutes remaining Cian Spencer-McDermott secured the cup victory with a sensational free kick from 20 yards out. The boys then climbed the famous Wembley steps to receive their trophy – an experience enjoyed by relatively few professional players!
Scorer of Bolton’s third goal, 11-year-old Cian Spencer-McDermott, said: “This was one of the best experiences of my life and one that I will never forget. I was nervous walking out onto the pitch as it was so awesome just being there but once the whistle blew and we started to play I knew we just had to win and I was absolutely desperate to get that all important goal! When I took the free kick, I pictured myself back in my friend Luca’s back garden where we practise shooting! I was buzzing after the game. Another highlight of the day was getting to go in the changing rooms and see the teams’ kits and boots laid out ready for their big game that afternoon. All in all, a brilliant weekend!”
Stephen Whittaker, Head of the Junior Boys’ School, congratulated the team on their win: ‘As the families entered the stadium we knew the day was going to be amazing. Even before the boys walked out led by Football League staff on to the Wembley turf, the sheer grandeur of the stadium was overwhelming. Each of the teams was announced over the sound system to the arriving fans whilst the boys were shown on the big screen. The boys took a little while to get started and the catalyst seemed to be Bournemouth’s goal. The match was topped off with a delightful free-kick from Cian. The boys applauded Bournemouth off and then walked to the winners’ gantry to lift the cup and receive their trophies. In all, the experience was amazing for parents and boys alike and will be remembered for many years to come.’
The boys behaved impeccably throughout their weekend in the capital, expertly guided by coaches Mike Duxbury and Andy Woodhead and accompanied by Katie Bent and Jayne Jackson of Bolton Wanderers’ Community Trust. The boys enjoyed the use of the Wembley changing facilities and first-class seats for the Play-Off Final itself.
The boys earned the right to play on the hallowed turf of Wembley, having won earlier local and regional rounds. Their success is all the more impressive when it is borne in mind that 12,000 children in teams from around the country had taken part in the competition.