Three Club Website competition winning teams today fulfilled every footballer’s dream when they took the field to play at the new Wembley stadium.
Grindon Rangers under 16s, Brandhall Colts under 15s and Blue Brazil under 15s were taking part in the Destination Wembley Global Challenge alongside teams from Italy, Canada and China.
The three British teams were the lucky winners of a competition run by Club Website and Umbro earlier this year and have spent this week in London for the round-robin tournament, which saw the final round of group games played at the world famous stadium today.
With opposition consisting of a Chinese team hand-picked from talent spotting events across the country, the winners of a Canadian qualification tournament and the under 16s team from none other than Italian giant AS Roma, the task facing the home sides was quite formidable!
Nevertheless, all three sides acquitted themselves well and raised their game to match the standard of the opposition. Brandhall Colts lost the day’s opening game to AS Roma by just a single goal and, having seen the Black Country side create two or three gilt edged opportunities, the Italians were very grateful to come away with a win.
The same could be said of the Chinese XI who, having been outplayed for much of the game, triumphed 1-0 over Blue Brazil from Fife.
With the table delicately poised before kick-off, the day’s biggest game was between Sunderland’s Grindon Rangers and Woodbridge of Canada. Having seen AS Roma clinch top spot with their win over Brandhall, Rangers knew victory over the impressive Canadian outfit would guarantee progress to Saturday’s cup final.
And how close they came! With only five minutes left on the clock, the Wearsiders were leading by the game’s only goal, David Weston’s effort ensuring his name was up in lights on the Wembley big screen.
It promised to be the winner but, with the final within touching distance, Nicholas Chiarot capitalised on a rare slip at the back and slotted home to put the Canadian side through.
Nevertheless, each side will return on Saturday to compete in the final of the vase, plate or cup, so each team will get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime experience not once but twice!
The privilege of playing at such a prestigious venue was not lost on any of the players or coaching staff, who were all lapping up the experience. As Darren Crann, head coach of Grindon Rangers, told Club Website: “It’s been fantastic. For kids to get the chance of playing of playing at Wembley, it’s unbelievable! You can’t comprehend it. You see it on telly and you think “I’d love to play there” but when you get here and you actually do it, it’s just a magnificent experience!”