U14s footballers are Lancashire Champions


FOOTBALLERS from Haslingden High School are celebrating after being crowned Lancashire champions in a final where they dominated the pitch.

At Darwen Football Club, a neutral ground, the U14s team made sure the county crown was theirs with a final score against Leyland’s Balshaw High School of 7-2.

PE teacher and coach Nikki Berko, said: “They are a phenomenal team and next year we want to go one better and win both the Lancashire and England titles.

“There were 11 in the team and five substitutes and on the day every single member of the squad got to play in the match so the win was a real team effort and everyone played their part.”

Their success comes just weeks after a close penalty shootout cost them a semi-final place in the English Schools’ Football Association Under 14s PlayStation Schools’ Cup.

Centre midfielder and team captain Ocean Flanagan, 13, who also plays for Bury, said: “Within the first two minutes Hattie Simpson had scored a header from a corner and by half-time we were 6-0 up.”

In the first half Hattie got a hat-trick while Daisy Botham, Darcie Dixon and Ocean also scored.

Ocean said: “As soon as we scored, we had much more confidence and it was the best we had ever played.”

The mood among the team at half-time was buoyant and, although Balshaw pulled a goal back about 10 minutes before the end of the game, Senaiya Knill went on to score a seventh for Haslingden before Balshaw added an extra goal in the dying minutes making final score 7-2.

Parents watching the squad remarked on the team spirit and togetherness among the Haslingden girls, that it had been a good clean match and they were a very respectful team.

Centre-mid Hattie, 14, who also plays for Bury and Rochdale, said: “We always give the other team three cheers whether we have won or lost.”

Goalkeeper Holly Thomas, 14, also plays for Blackburn and is hoping to make her career in football coaching.

Many of the U14s team also represent the school in the U15s team which also made it through to the quarter-finals of the English School’s Football Association Cup.

Miss Berko added: “I don’t think we have ever had a team playing so many games of football before.

“They played seven matches in the U15s in the English Cup, another seven in the U14s English Cup and then five rounds in the Lancashire Cup.”