London Titans Football Club held their 7th annual birthday 11-a-side tournament on Saturday 12th October at Clapham Common, in South-West London and Cardiff Dragons FC made the trip to participate.
The tournament kicked off at 10:30am but the organisers gave us some additional time so that we didn’t kick off until 11:30am to allow for our travelling distance. It was always going to be a bit of a rush to pick up the minibus and all the players and supporters to drive to London, beat the London traffic and arrive there on time, but Amy did us proud with her expert minibus driving.
13 teams including the Dragons took part and were split into three groups playing 25-minute round robin games. The Dragons were already kitted up after some yoga-type moves to get changed through Kensington and Chelsea. Thanks to Jay, Richie, Andrew, Michael and Jon for getting there a bit before us in their car and updating the organisers with our whereabouts in the fun bus and for registering the team in advance.
Our first game was against London Romans who play in the London Unity League and are currently in 1st place, and have a 2nd team in 3rd place. They were extremely tough opponents, but the Dragons held on against their fast-paced strike force with some battling performances in defence from the back four and the amazing Ryan in goal. Unfortunately, with about only 5mins to spare, the Romans put one past the dragons with a well taken goal. Heads dropped a little and within another few minutes, the Romans slayed the Dragons with a second goal.
Group game 1 – Dragons 0-2 London Romans
We were straight on again with only a tiny break for our next group game against London Titans who are one division above us in the GFSN league. Once again, the Dragons battled hard and played some much better attacking football to put the Titans under pressure. On about the halfway point, James Sherman slotted in a goal from close range to put the Dragons ahead 1-0. Frustratingly, the Titans broke through the Dragons defence on the right hand side and their trickiest player took a shot which caught Muzz off guard and ended up being turned into the net past Ryan. Although it was a draw, it was still a great result against a Division 2 GFSN side.
Group game 2 – Dragons 1 (James) – 1 Lonton Titans
A well needed break next, and this gave the Dragons some time to re-group, take a breather and wonder if they were really that desperate to use the loo that was onsite. Ugh.
The third and final group game was against Bexley Invicta who are also in the London Unity Leauge. By now, the Dragons had found their feet and were moving the ball around with a lot more confidence and putting Bexley under pressure. We had some great chances from set-pieces and corners but just couldn’t break Bexley down. Under immense Dragons pressure, Bexley held firm and wouldn’t let the Dragons score. Full time 0-0. Penalties!! What a way to finish a game, penalties might be a quick way to decide a match but always seems so unfair (unless you win I suppose). Fair play to the 5 Dragons who volunteered to take the penalties and Ryan in goal who had no choice but to face them. This time, it wasn’t to be and the Dragons bowed out of the group games, losing to Bexley on penalties.
Group game 3 – Dragons 0-0 Bexley Invicta – Bexley won on penalties.
All was not lost as the Dragons had a chance to succeed in the Plate competition. Our next opposition was London Leftfooters who are in our GFSN division. This time it was knockout so all to play for. The Dragons came out fighting as we were already into the semi-final due to team numbers so this was a great opportunity. An end to end game with chances at both ends resulted in a 0-0 draw and more penalties. Once again, 5 Dragons stepped up to do the club proud and with the combination of goals and saves, the Dragons went through to the Plate final.
Plate Semi Final – Dragons 0-0 London Leftfooters – Dragons won on penalties.
Phew. Into the Plate final against Bexley Invicta (again) after a short break; there were some very tired legs but some very positive attitudes from all. With everything to play for, the Dragons took to the pitch and gave it their all. You could sense the determination to score from the off as the Dragons gave it everything they had. Again, it was end to end stuff with chances from both sides being saved or missed which made for another 25 minutes of nail-biting football. Believe it or not, it was another 0-0 finish and more penalties, but this time to decide the Plate winners. Unfortunately, today wasn’t our day and we were overthrown by Bexley who snatched the Plate from our grasp by winning 3-2 on penalties.
Plate Final – Dragons 0-0 Bexley Invicta – Bexley won on penalties.
A huge well done to all those who competed and to those who gave up their time to support. Great to see Simon back on the squad – welcome back! It was a great day but wasn’t the same without our hero Dave Amos (all day we had this weird feeling that we’d left him at Pontcanna).
Player of the tournament (as voted for by all who were there): Ryan – outstanding performance in goal.
Dragons squad: Muzz, Anthony, James, Jay, Jon A, Darrin, Michael, Simon, Ruth, Eddie, John W, Ryan, Andrew
Dragons supporters: Amy, Richie, Ali, Jack