SAL Spring Cup Final 28/04/2012
If this turns out to be Pete Croft’s last appearance for AP8’s then he signed off in great style with the winning goal in a pulsating Spring Cup final. After tabloid revelations about his private life, speculation is rife that Croft will depart the Racecourse this summer and has already agreed lucrative terms with South London giants Stonewall FC. A club source confirmed post match that the classy forward just feels more “at home” on the other side of the river.
On a huge occasion, any cup final nerves were soon eased as AP raced into an early lead when award winning striker Josh Roberts capiltalised on some hesitant defending to open the scoring. Within ten minutes that lead was doubled as top scorer Olly Tolcher netted his 14th of the season after more HSBC mistakes. Two nil up and flying the AP 8s came close to adding a third when ‘changing room legend’ Dan Ware burst into the HSBC area and was a stud’s length away from getting on the end of an Olly Tolcher cross. Memories of Gazza at Euro 96. Tolcher just seemed to “sense” Ware was nearby and delivered a terrific low cross to the back stick. A Ware goal would have been well deserved and it wasn’t the first time the defender has come close this season. There would be more goalmouth action to follow.
In typical AP 8s fashion they seemed to be unable to finish off their opponents and allowed HSBC back into the game. A rare corner caused problems in the AP area and the referee awarded a soft penalty against Roberts for shirt pulling. The spot kick was converted and HSBC were back in business. Moments before half time a long looping ball into the AP box found Dan Ware fantasising that he was still at the other end of the pitch… The defender leapt above his man to power a header towards his own goal. The superb Jamie Roberts made a point blank save but the ball fell kindly for an HSBC stiker to find the empty net. 2-2 and the game was back to square one.
If giving away silly goals has been commonplace this season, so has AP 8s ability to pull together and show great team spirit where other sides heads would have dropped. After a brief half time discussion the team came out and produced one of their best performances of the season. Captain Jack Parsons was absolutely outstanding in midfield, as was Gavin Johnson. The duo broke up many HSBC attacks and used the ball superbly once they’d won it back. James Broome was introduced at left full back and had a fine half, turning defence into attack at every opportunity. AP piled on the pressure with the combination of Olly Tolcher, Pete Croft, Paddy Knight and Josh Roberts looking dangerous at every attack. Paddy Knight had his best game in an AP shirt and dominated the right side of midfield. His work rate enabled him to give extra cover at right back and also produce the goods going forward. Knight’s brilliant cross was headed narrowly wide by Croft and then Olly Tolcher forced a finger tipped save from the HSBC keeper with a 20 yard effort.
Tolcher then delivered another excellent free kick into the HSBC box which their goalkeeper found too hot to handle….the outstanding Croft was on hand to head in the decisive goal. 3-2 to AP 8s and one hand on the trophy. The bankers pushed for an equaliser but crunching tackles from Will Dudmish, Ware and Parsons protected the narrow lead.
With ten minutes left of play, and to the disgust of the whole HSBC team, the referee blew the final whistle and the game was won. A brilliant AP performance to bring home their first piece of silverware. As Player/ Coach Simon Tolcher went forward to collect the cup he was, instead, handed an official tea towel by the league’s chairman. The team didn’t complain and proudly raised this above their heads and danced around in wild celebrations. Apparently the SAL trophy department had received an unusually large order for trophies from AP this season so there is, understandably, a back log. The real cup and medals will be delivered at a later date. Maybe even in time for the club dinner. The winners celebrated long into the night after a great end to their season. MOM for this game is very difficult to pick, with Jack Parsons, Pete Croft, James Broome and Paddy Knight all strong candidates. Gavin Johnson just edges it after a near faultless display in the centre of midfield.
So, after a very decent season for the AP 8s they finally get their name on the ‘winners’ list of honour at the club. A mid table finish and some silverware fully deserved.
Mentions must also go to a few others that made big contributions this season:
Jack Dudmish, Tom White, Ditmir S, Kevin Soar and Eric Madgewick all made big contributions to our cup run but didn’t get to play in the final. They all added some class, effort and commitment to the cause and were a credit to the team. ALL of them also turned out to support us in the cup final which was much appreciated by the rest of the lads and showed the team spirit we have built.
Matt Tarrant put in some excellent midfield performances throughout the season and was unlucky not to play for longer in the final. Dave Potter and Jan Lott were two of our top performers this year and both contributed brilliant performances and goals. Adam Jenkins for his ridiculous beard and vitally important penalty vs Broomfield, Nigel Bagley for his wonder goal against the 7’s, and Emlyn Robbins for his first ever AP goal and some fine match saving tackles over the season. Finally, a big mention to George Waldrum, who scored a wonder goal in a pre-season friendly, started the campaign on fire, suffered a horrific injury, contracted Chicken Pox, made a come back, and then started the 8s whole cup success with the winning goal against the 7’s (from left back). Had it not been for some management indecision, and a referee that couldn’t tell the time, he would have had much longer on the pitch in the cup final. He definitely deserved that for his efforts throughout the season.
Player of the season: Jamie Roberts (who also scored one goal). Joint runners up: Jack Parsons / Olly Tolcher
Goal of the season: Olly Tolcher. Runner up: Nigel Bagley