As the dust settles on a remarkably successful ten months of TRA National South League games at Daggenham and then Romford Playfootball venues, the title went to a well-deserved Bexley side that pretty much held the high ground from start to finish. Opening up a five point gap early on perhaps made the difference at the end of days, for both Romford and Herne Bay made charges that hauled in the West Kent side. Herne Bay disappeared through an unanticipated no show, losing nine points in the process. Romford were then the only serious challengers to the leaders, but slipped up with an unexpected loss to the fashioned Daggers Green team, that put the skids on their title march. That said, the home side kept their nerve and despite a loss to Watford on the last day of competitive games, they secured the runners-up spot.
Aside from the competitive results, the real winner was the camaraderie that unfolded over the ten month period. Virtual strangers and opponent foes, early games were full on competitive affairs with not much quarter given anywhere on the pitch.
Golden Boot - Bob Sapey
Golden Glove - Steve Pike
Tackles were ‘robust’ to say the least and the pace of games reflected the will to win of pretty much all of the teams present. Over the ensuing months the change in attitudes was testimony that despite the nature of competition as a format and the individual and team desire to assert and win through, respect and honour won through, providing entertainment, flair, great football and a kinship that will last on for many years to come.
Familiarity over the best part of a year, when teams consistently turn up to meet and greet each other prior to kitting up, on passing en route to matches, and the social occasion after games over a cool beer in the bar provided opportunities for people to converse on reflections of games and performances done, as well as share each other’s exterior interests. Faces that were recognisable had names and new relationships were blossoming through these terrific get-togethers, through social interaction platforms and invites to other occasions and other interests. Initial cordial handshakes were soon being replaced with hugs and genuine warmth.
Host and organiser, Terry Rice, has been hugely instrumental in the success of the tournament. Not just for bringing a host of top teams together for a sustained period (although several teams did drop out at various stages) or for the opportunity to play in a well-run tournament, but more for his approachability, genuine affectionate nature and humour that he shares widely and readily. He has been let down on occasions but always remains positive and problem solves his way out of trouble without stressing out on such matters, always ensuring that his guests have a pleasurable experience. Some organisations would do well to follow the example Terry sets. He started out on this journey gradually building up trust, respect and credibility, and now finds himself one of the first go-to persons for advice, wealth of knowledge and tournament organising, safe in the knowledge that he continues to make good friends along the way with his own inimitable style and humour.