Haslingden High footballing students help Lancashire teams become national champions


SIX students from Haslingden High School helped their County teams to lift national trophies after cup finals at Bet 365 Stadium, the home of Stoke City Football Club.

Three 14-year-old students, centre-backs Dixie Thirde and Senaiya Knill, along with right wing Darcie Dixon, play for the Lancashire Girls’ U14s team who took on Gloucestershire in the National County Cup Final.

While 15-year-olds goalkeeper Holly Thomas and midfielder Lily Metcalf, along with and centre-midfielder Ocean Flanagan, 14, play for Lancashire girls’ U16s team who faced the county team from Kent.

Holly played the full match while Lily was on the pitch for most of the game.

Ocean said: “The match was stressful. At half-time they were 2-0 up and the team talk was encouraging. We had scored two goals early in the second half and I was subbed on with 20 minutes to go.

“It was quite intense and everyone was trying to nab the last goal. I didn’t expect us to win.”

With a final score of two a-piece and lots of other finals to be played – the teams went straight to penalties.

Holly said: “Everyone scored the first five penalties and then it went to sudden death. Their sixth shot hit the crossbar and then Lancashire’s Honey Harrison scored.

“Ocean just hugged me than we ended up falling over. Lily and I were on the team coach and on the way back to Haslingden we had all written champions across our foreheads in whiteboard pens.”

The U14s match saw the Lancashire side 3-0 up against their Gloucestershire rivals by half-time.

Senaiya said: “They then scored, about 20 minutes after, and so we changed our formation and with 10 minutes to go put another defender in.

“Throughout the game, they had hardly anyone on our side of the pitch, apart from when they scored. We just dominated the whole time.”

Dixie said: “It was a great experience. There were lots of people there and we had already watched the U16s match and seen them win.”

Headteacher Russell Clarke said: “It is an incredible achievement and they have all done brilliantly well. We have had some amazing footballing results lately and on one of the weeks we had teams playing in cup matches every night.”

As part of the school’s U14s side, they also played in the Lancashire Cup final match first against Alder Grange High School with the final score was 4-1 to Alder Grange.

Striker Lily Metcalf, 16, said: “At half-time they were 1-0 up and then they scored again, but we got one back to make it 2-1.

“We thought we had a chance and we were playing really well, but in the last 10 minutes we got really tired and they scored another two. We were gutted. Everyone in our team has their strengths, but overall they were the better side.”

Lily’s twin Georgia said: “Everyone just tried their hardest, we didn’t think they would catch up so much as they also started getting proper tired at the end.”

The students all play for other Academy and grassroots teams. Holly is on the England Pathway while Ocean is in the England School’s Football Association U15s team.