April Fools’ Day morning saw seventy-five players, supported by their families and friends, take to the field for the 4th Annual Alumni Footballers six-a-side tournament. Despite the obvious RGS camaraderie there was no fooling around as every team was in with a realistic chance of progressing from their respective pool to the knock-out stages. At stake was the prestigious PJOS Leg End trophy and, more importantly, bragging rights for the next twelve months. No further incentive was needed.
Previously, the event has been held at Flagge Meadow but to help facilitate the County Cricket match it switched to RGS The Grange. This move proved to be inspirational from Head of Football, Gary Leeds, who also added innovations to the format such as correct time-keeping and accurate scoring. As ever, the presence of Paul (PJOS) O’Sullivan proved popular and remains integral to the event.
The four pitches in use side-by-side ensured the players had plenty of footballing time, that the action was almost non-stop, and the fans could take it all in easily. The PA system employed to provide backing music to the matches added to the atmosphere, and the welcoming presence of RGS The Grange Headmaster, Gareth Hughes, was particularly appropriate. The majority of these alumni players had come under his tutelage either as pupils at the Prep School or at the Senior School Sports Department, some had even ridden an ostrich with him, but that, as they say, is a different story.
The pool matches were closely fought but it was Ajax Trees Down, Sporting Lowson, The Eleven Plussers, and Class of ‘98 that progressed to the knock-out stages.
The young guns of Ajax (2009 leavers), were outfoxed by the wily Eleven Plussers (1988/89 leavers), while Sporting Lowson came through a nail-biting penalty shoot out to reach the final.
Not since Partick Thistle defeated Celtic 4-1 in the 1971 Scottish League Cup Final has there been such an eagerly anticipated match between two footballing Titans. Despite the misguided efforts of Far Eastern betting syndicates, the younger vintage of 2006, in the form of Sporting Lawson, was slightly too much for the ageing pros of the Eleven Plussers, and 1-0 was enough to secure the PJOS Trophy for 2017.
Following the final whistle medals were awarded, the trophy was kissed, ibruprofen was shared around, and delicious grub replenished the tanks, all before players headed to a local watering hole to recount every dodgy decision and fashion faux-pas.
Speaking afterwards, Sporting Lowson’s captain, Chris Bufton, explained that, “it had been a game of two halves and that my players let the ball do the work, before turning the screw”. Matt Martin, El Presidenti of the Eleven Plussers, explained that although his teammates were ‘as sick as parrots’ they were not too bitter, and would be ‘over the moon’ to get a rematch in 2018. Asked for his memories of the day, Gareth Hughes, mused that ‘it had been sunny when it was not cloudy’.
The winning team comprised Chris Bufton, Javed Ahmed, Charlie Stokes, Adam Croad, Jon ‘blue lights’ Lightowler, Jon Dovey and Rich Bradley.
Mr Scott MacDonald, Development Manager