4th XI
Sat 16 Mar 2024
Old Alleynians 3rd
Old Parmiterians FC
4th XI
4th XI 0-0 (3-1 pens) Old Alleynians 3rd XI

4th XI 0-0 (3-1 pens) Old Alleynians 3rd XI

Francis Mariani22 Mar - 10:58
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Old Boys Cup Final

From the moment the Old Boys 4th XI Cup began, it was clear to all pundits and players alike that Old Parms 4s and Old Alleynians 3s were the two strongest teams and were destined to meet in the final. Each round both went dutifully about their business, and moved one step closer to each other, before inevitably meeting side by side on March 16th. It was kind of like that scene with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast 7 if you watched it in reverse.

Playing in the Arthurian League, colloquially known as ‘The League for Nerds’, I didn’t know much about Old Alleynians. That was until Friday when, at a friend’s house, I stumbled across a High School photo from none other than Alleyns School. Realising that I was fraternising with the enemy I decided the only option was to urinate on their carpet and never speak to them again. But before I did that I showed them a picture of the team that I’d found on their Instagram days prior, to see if they recognised any of our opposition: “Oh yeah I know him, I used to date his little brother”. It may not seem like much, but it’s those tiny pieces of intel that could make all the difference come Saturday.

The boys arrived at the ground early to soak in the atmosphere and watch the 8s put on a masterclass to win the first piece of silverware of the day for the Claret and Blue. The perfect aperitif for the day – they showed us exactly how it’s done, now just time to replicate.

Omari gave the perfect team talk before the match to get the lads fired up, speaking to every starting player individually about what they bring to the side. 10 beautifully crafted motivational speeches and 1 “we’ve had our differences” later, we were ready to head out.

As we entered the pitch we were greeted by our videographer for the day, literally stood up in the gantries and wielding a camera so hefty that suddenly all of the clean boots and new haircuts from the lads made sense. We were also greeted by Old Alleynians. Built more for rugby than football and warming up with a “my dad employs your dad” swagger, they looked an intimidating outfit. But what we lacked in creatine we more than made up for in fans. Friends, family and WAGs alike had turned out in force to support the boys, whereas Old Alleynians had such a minimal following that it would have made the Wealdstone Raider damage his vocal cords. Amongst the crowd was last year’s POTS and every year’s nicest bloke ever Darlye Wakefield, who a yearning in his eye that could only be dispelled by a return to Douglas Eyre.

The game began and Parms immediately took control. A few early drives from Christian showed the threat he posed, and a few sumptuous corners from Andre weren’t capitalised on. In midfield Abdou and Dom battled hard to out strength their opposite numbers, both of whom were twice their size, and Will ran the game like Prime Jude. Jude Willingham if you will (and I will). Abdou hit the bar after a great stop from the keeper, and from the resulting corner Jude Willingham hit the bar again. At the other end the defence got bored and began to take an interest in the arts, such was their lack of involvement. Jake became quite a handy weaver of various yarns and fabrics; Tom learnt the history of the Ming Dynasty and its impacts on the world porcelain trade; Jack starred in his own creation of Hamlet; Sam took a wee wee on the pitch. 0-0 at the break.

The second half fell into the same pattern as the first, with Parms dominance but no end product. Finally on 70 minutes the big chance came, Jake, putting away his loom, spotted myself and put a beautiful ball over the top. I was clean through. But like Justin Bieber ft Sean Kingston circa 2009: I’m indecisive, I can’t decide. I considered lobbing the keeper but before I made my mind up it was too late and I ended up passing it kindly into his hands, as if to suggest that we had no intention of scoring at all this game and would do everything in our powers make Old Alleynians keep a clean sheet. 90 minutes up. 0-0.

We didn’t want extra time, but we’d planned for it. As a group we seemed to have more energy as the match restarted, whereas Old Alleynians were clearly faltering. In their defence I’m not sure if Eton’s “Field Game” actually has extra time so they probably weren’t used to it. We pushed and pushed, Jude Willingham again bossing the game and with 10 minutes to go drew out a brilliant save from the keeper, but we couldn’t find a winner. The full-time whistle went to signal 120 minutes of goalless action (which the fans were thrilled about), and the match would be decided by penalties.

Shouts of “We love a shoot out boys” rang out from the Old Alleynians team. Omari returned with “Yeah well we love a shoot out too boys”. Lads, steady on now, let’s keep it civil - there’s kids watching.

So it all comes down to this. As an officer from the Guinness World Records arrives at the pitch to award both teams with their record of the first ever amateur football match to be goalless after 120 minutes, Parms prepare for a second shootout of the season. We are hurting after failing to capitalise on our dominance, but we know that this is not simply a coinflip, and ultimately the team with the greater composure and control will prevail.

I win my second coin toss of the day (my only contributions), and we take first.

Christian steps up first… side netting, never in doubt. 1-0.

Alleynians’ captain shows me what it means to be a leader and takes first in return, striking well into the corner despite Omari’s best efforts to put him off from the sideline. 1-1.

Bruno next. Running up to the ball much like he runs at defenders – more fury than nous – he strikes well and the ball just sneaks through the hands of the keeper to make it 2-1.

Next up for Old Alleynians, the number 7. He strikes cleanly, hard low and to the bottom left corner. But Ben Crofts-Mullin, part keeper part professional body language translator, reads him like a book. He gets down and palms away. A roar goes up from the travelling faithful. Advantage Parms.

Up steps Andre. I think it’s safe to say this is the most relaxed the team have been all day. We don’t even need to watch – Jake’s got his yarn out again. Andre strikes it beautifully into the top right corner. A casual Rashford celebration and a heart sign to his adoring fans let you know that he too was never in doubt. 3-1.

It was slowly slipping away from Alleynians, and they really need something now. As the number 10 jogs up to the spot, he looks calm, almost too calm. It’s as if he is feigning nonchalance but beneath it he is terrified of the prospect of facing BCM in a pressure situation. That terror comes roaring to the surface as he blazes over. So far over. Think Kane v France and double it. Parms are cruising.

All we need is one. And who better than Jude Willingham to take it. The standout player on the pitch by some distance with a chance of sealing Parms’ glory. As he walks up to the spot he mentions that the keeper hasn’t dived for a single penalty… so he’s going to hit it down the middle. Wait what? What sort of backwards logic is that? Does Joe Walsh hire just anybody? I thought he was meant to be a scientist! Perhaps he knows something we don’t. Will does exactly what he said he’d do. The keeper does exactly what Will said he’d do too, and saves easily. A failed experiment.

The boys aren’t nervous though. We know we only need to score our next penalty. What the boys haven’t considered is that I’m scheduled to take the penalty, and my knees are like jelly. The mere suggestion of letting down the lads in such a crucial fixture has taken over my body and I am hoping, praying I’m not required.

I was not required.

As the 14 ran up to take his penalty. Ben Crofts-Mullin stared directly into his soul. In that moment, he learnt everything about that man. His hopes, his failures, his favourite butler. All of the things that had brought him here today, impacted his brain chemistry and would ultimately dictate how he would react in this very moment. The culmination of his of DNA and the entirety of his lived experiences? For Ben Crofts-Mullin it was clear: Bottom Left.

Ben palms away. Old Parms 4s are champions.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Pandemonium ensues. The next 8 hours are all a bit hazy, but here are some highlights:

- The tournament organiser saying the best team won just as Old Alleynians went to receive their medals
- Christian breaking the trophy 5 seconds into it being in our grasp
- Andre taking the trophy home so he ‘can take the Messi photo in bed’
- Successfully turning every single song throughout the night into one about Parms. Parms will tear you apart again etc etc.

The first piece of silverware for Omari and team in the bag and it was thoroughly well deserved. We now look to the league, which if we’re lucky we might finish before July. COYP.

Match details

Match date

Sat 16 Mar 2024



Meet time



Details confirmed. Hospitality provided on site. Cup Final.


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