After an unbeaten season Thorpe St Andrew U12 girls made their way to the Hawthorns Stadium in good spirits to face girls football powerhouse school Shenfield High in the ESFA National Final.
The first stop was via the West Bromwich Albian indoor training complex to collect our new kit and go through our warm ups. With 30 minutes to go we made our way across to the stadium before coming out of the tunnel to a wall of noise from the travelling fans. After the official team photo and some more warming up on the pristine playing surface we headed back into the official WBA changing rooms to go through some final instructions. With minutes to go the team were called to the tunnel and walked out to thumping music whilst the announcer ran through the teams and starting line ups. Whilst the camera crew panned through the crowd and the line ups were put up on the score board, Captain Sophie McIntosh won the toss and elected to have kick off.
Thorpe started as the brighter team and had several early chances pushing Shenfield on to the back foot with Bella Murrell putting their defenders under constant pressure. Out of nowhere disaster struck with a missed clearance on the half way line the Shenfield number 9 races through and with a lot still to do curled the ball expertly into the far corner. Thorpe got back on to the attack with Ava Duffy going close before Shenfield caught us on the break again with another expertly taken finish. It became apparent that containing their star midfielder and forward was going to be a difficult task for our defenders despite our best efforts individually. Two further goals came before Thorpe got one back before half time with Ava Duffy scoring straight from a corner. The half time break gave us a chance to talk to the players who were unable to hear anything whilst on the pitch due to the sheer volume of noise from the fans. The game remained close for a lot of the second half with Thorpe using their bench to try and find a way back into the game. Unfortunately, the quality of the two Shenfield players on West Ham’s books was too much and they found two more goals before a deflected own goal finished off the scoring.
The score in no way reflected the game and it could have been so different had the early chances put Thorpe in front. Bella Murrell and Maddie Brodie were deservedly nominated in the official player of the match vote after great individual games.
The players were treated to a hot meal in the media suite after the game before making the long journey home. Whilst it was not the result the team deserved after a brilliant season, it was still an amazing day and experience for all involved.