Clitheroe Royal Grammar School have won the English Small Schools’ Trophy for the first time in their history.
Captain Jack Burgess scored the winner in the final at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium against last year’s winners Great Cornard from West Suffolk.
Earlier, Clitheroe had beaten schools from Liverpool, Chester, Uttoxeter, Doncaster, Morpeth and Yorkshire.
In the run up to the final, the team played a practice match at Clitheroe FC’s Shawbridge ground to get used to a big pitch, also they also enjoyed a private training session with former Burnley and Bolton manager Owen Coyle.
The team were also invited to Ewood Park for Blackburn’s final home match of the season against Crystal Palace. The players were welcomed onto the pitch at half-time and given a very warm reception by both sets of fans.
At Walsall, 80 students and staff travelled to the game, along with a large number of the players’ family and friends. The crowd made banners, painted their faces, dressed in blue and white and screamed their support throughout the 70 minutes.
CRGS were the dominant team throughout the first half but the score remained goalless at half-time.
An inspirational team talk and a break brought out the best in the team as they went on to further dominate proceedings.
Ten minutes from the end of the game Burgess converted a quick corner from Issac Forrest and Adam Bolton.
There was a scare in added time, but Harry Ellis dealt with a one on one and Charlie Dewhurst cleared off the line to ensure that CRGS were crowned as national champions!
Deputy Head Teacher Dr Halstead commented that it was the best day in his 36-year teaching career, and Head of PE and team coach Jamie Alcock said: “I am extremely proud of all the team. They have been behind in a few games and shown real character to come back and win every match. They have worked hard for each other and for the school. They have had an unbelievable few months and we hope that their success will inspire further cup final wins both for them and for other years in school.”
Later on the same day Year 10 played a district Cup Final against Ribblesdale. They lost to the same opponents the previous year but this time round ran out 2-1 victors with goals from Ben Fourie and substitute Matt Todd.
The game, at Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground, capped off a unique day of success for the grammar school and one that will live long in the memory!