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Independent Schools Football – There’s more to it than you think

October 8, 2009
Charlie Pilkington for Shrewsbury v Lancing

Charlie Pilkington for Shrewsbury v Lancing

You may be forgiven for thinking Independent School’s Sport is centred around Rugby and Cricket, therefore not realising that Football is in fact bigger than the two in most cases. Independent Schools, such as the one I attend (Shrewsbury School), are renowned for their big playing grounds, excellent facilities and top-class coaching, thus giving pupils every possible chance to maximise their potential.

Four weeks into the new term and the Football season is already shaping up to be a classic for Schools all over the country. My objective here is to raise a bit of awareness of the Independent Schools game, as well as teach you a few things you may not know.

In 1868 Shrewsbury School was named as one of the nine ‘great’ schools of England, along with Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Merchant Taylors’, Rugby, St Paul’s, Westminster, and Winchester. It also holds the original copy of the rules of Football within it’s Library.

In the year 2000, under the guidance of then-coach Mark Dickson, Shrewsbury won the Independent Schools Football Association Cup, also known as the ISFA, or ‘Boodles’, something that disappointingly hasn’t been achieved since. This year, Shrewsbury are determined for victory.

ISFA 2009-10
Two rounds in to this year’s competition and things have gone very well for Shrewsbury School. Under new coach, ex-pro Steve Biggins, we have a fresh new outlook with a view to winning trophies in the short-term.

We were drawn against KES Witley in the 1st round, which meant an 8-hour round trip down to Surrey. It was a potentially tricky encounter which we made fairly light work of in the end.

We were awarded a rather dubious penalty after just 4 minutes, which striker Roy Chatterjee slotted away. Roy now has a record of 10 goals in 8 games this season, a tally any striker would be proud of at any level. It wasn’t until the second half that we finished off KES though, with 2 goals from winger Pat White, and another from Chatterjee. There could, and probably should have been more goals for us in the second half, particularly if a 35-yard thunderbolt from your’s truly hadn’t hit the crossbar.

In the second round we were drawn with a home tie against Brighton-based side Lancing. A 10-hour round trip down south would not have gone down too well with the boys, so we were definitely grateful with the home tie.

Shrewsbury dominated throughout the match, and Lancing were eventually flattered by the 2-0 scoreline. Chatterjee and White were again amongst the goals, but an all-round solid performance sees us through to tonight’s third round draw.

The thrill of the big stage
All schoolboys aspire to play Football, Cricket, Rugby on the big stage, and the ISFA gives us exactly that opportunity. This year the final of the competition will be staged at Stadium MK, home of MK Dons. It’s this prize that adds something special and gives an extra motivation to boys all over the country. It’s not everyday you get the chance to participate in such a competition with the knowledge that you have the opportunity to play infront of a few hundred, possibly a thousand people, at the end of it.

2008-09 ISFA Cup Final

2008-09 ISFA Cup Final

It’s not only the final that draws people to watch either. At Shrewsbury we are lucky to have a lot of boys and girls that come to watch our matches, sometimes over 100. Matchday programmes are produced, our names are read out over a tanoy system, and chants ring out from the fans. It’s a proper atmosphere at a proper Football match.

Shrewsbury’s pitch has recently been described as being better than Aston Villa’s. The headgroudsman used to be involved with the preparation of Wolverhampton Wanderer’s pitch before taking up the mantel at Shrewsbury. The matchday atmoshphere, big crowds, a wonderful pitch, and a great team spirit is making this season very special indeed, and hopefully come next year, Shrewsbury will be appearing in the final of the ISFA.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated with our progress throughout the season.

Team profile
1. George Barker – George has made an excellent start to the new season, looking extremely solid. A much improved player who will be very grateful for having an excellent defence infront of him.

2. Ben Williams – Shrewsbury’s head of school has made the break into the First team this season after excelling for the Second XI both last season, and at the start of this. Able to operate anywhere across the backline, Ben provides very useful backup.

3. Alex Blofield – Alex is an experienced Shrewsbury 1st XI Centre-half, who was a regular in the side last season. A tall, elegant player, who is fantastic in the air and isn’t shy of a tackle.

4. Will Taylor – Will is another who played a number of games for the 1st XI last season, although not as regularly as Alex. He’s able to play at right-back or centre-half, and possess great pace and tackling ability. His height adds to the physical presence across the back.

5. Charlie Pilkington – Charlie has had a fantastic start to the season, excelling on the pre-season tour to Spain, before putting in some excellent performances back home. He’s good on the ball, has an admirable work-rate, and has quickly become a fan’s favourite. Long may his form continue.

6. George Curtis – I’ll try not to say too much about myself. I make up a 5-man midfield, playing the advanced role alongside captain Robbie Williams. Passing is my strong point, and due to my height, I’m also good in the air. Just the one goal so far this term, but I’ll be hoping to add to my collection shortly.

7. Ed White – Right-winger extraodinaire, Ed has a wicked right foot on him. Our equivalent to David Beckham, crossing and set-pieces are very much Ed’s strong point. His long-range passing is probably the best in the team, and his work-rate leaves very little to be desired. A regular in the side last year as well.

8. David Lloyd – Plays along side Alex Blofield at the back, and allows very little to pass through him. Certainly loves a tackle and doesn’t back out of any battle. As committed as they come, sometimes a bit too much, he would say himself. Being one of the quickest in the side means very few goals will be scored past him this season, that’s for sure.

9. Roy Chatterjee – New to school this year after being awarded a Sports scholarship, Roy’s goalscoring ability is second-to-none. Give him half a yard in the box and he will punish you. He has the pace to match any centre-half on the school circuit and is a prize assett for us this season.

10. Robbie Williams (captain) – Robbie is a fantastic player to have in your side. Having previously been on Wolves’ books, Robbie brings skill and elegance to the midfield as well as a wonderful striking ability. 30-yard screamers aren’t a rarity with Robbie, and nor is beating players with ease. Captain of the side, he gains great respect from the boys.

11. Tom Elcock – A little dynamo in the midfield, Tom works his socks off every game. An excellent tackler, which enables him to break up the play and therefore feed Robbie and myself to press forward. He’s just returned from injury, so will be hoping to regain full match fitness soon and get his place back in the starting XI.

12. Tom Elliot – Holding midfielder Elliot does a solid job infront of the back four. Gives the team good balance, and allows the likes of Robbie and myself to push forward and create chances.

15. Pat White – Twin brother of Ed, Pat plays on the left wing and creates chances all day. Fantastic with the ball at his feet, he beats players with ease and has a superb left foot. His right isn’t bad either. Plenty of goals will be scored by him this season.

17. Christian Barrow – Shrewsbury’s answer to Jose Bosingwa, Christian’s committment cannot be faulted. Another one who loves a tackle, and another guy who has the pace to burst on to the byline and get crosses in.

Alex Blofield, David Lloyd, Ed White, Pat White, and Robbie Williams were all selected to play for the ISFA National side this season.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2009 3:34 pm

    This just made you a legend among your squad.
    Giving a bit of publicity :-P

    Best of luck to your Shrewsbury Boys this year. Sounds like you have some real talent.

    Didn’t Prince Hot Ginge attend Eton? You rubbing elbows with Royals there, Georgie?

  2. George permalink
    October 8, 2009 3:39 pm

    He did indeed. Unfortunately we’ve had no such royals attend Shrewsbury. Although Charles Darwin and Michael Palin are amongst the ex-pupils!

    Prince Edward opened our Music School as well. + one of the girl’s brothers was on Big Brother this year. Does that count?

  3. October 8, 2009 4:46 pm

    Hot Ginge is in a class all of his own.
    If he were on the Shrewsbury Boys team, I may have had to “She’s the Man” it and dress as a dude and join the squad.

    Kind of inspirational though to study where Darwin studied.

  4. George permalink
    October 8, 2009 5:04 pm

    That film is baaaaad.
    Fly over and watch us play. You know you want to!

    • October 8, 2009 5:08 pm

      No, George. I think the Feds would have me on a paedo watch list if I paid TransAtlantic airfare to watch some teen boys play.
      But I wish you luck.

  5. October 13, 2009 4:22 pm

    Diamond or Golden midfield? 5 midfielders. Was your coach trained by Anceloti??? :) You doin a splendid job man.. just kep it up.]]


  6. George permalink
    October 19, 2009 11:58 am

    We play a holding midfielder and then a straight 4 in front of him, so a 4-1-4-1 if you will.

    Well he’s an ex Derby County pro so no need for Mr. Ancelotti to intervene ;)

  7. October 19, 2009 1:55 pm

    Great words George, best of luck and keep us all posted

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