The Boys’ Brigade 15th South Shields Company five-a-side seniors football team have retained a national title at the UK Finals held in Belfast.
The boys, from Bethesda Free Church, Victoria Road, qualified for the prestigious competition after winning their qualifying group in Derby.
Having won the competition for the first time in their history a year ago, the “Boys from Bethesda” successfully defended their title against the best teams from the other home nations who qualified.
Three wins, a draw, and one defeat in five matches saw the Company finish at the top of the group, but level on points with 2nd Tonbridge Company.
A “winner takes all” play-off game was then required to separate the two teams, with South Shields winning 2-0 with second-half goals from captain Jordan Brindle and Harry Edwardson.
After the presentation of the trophy by the Boys’ Brigade Secretary and Chief Executive, Bill Stevenson, the boys then went on to attend a lunch hosted by the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, where they enjoyed some fellowship with the other Boys’ Brigade teams and staff.
Company captain Alan Greener said: “It was a great achievement in itself to qualify for the finals, but to actually travel to Belfast and come out on top against the best of Boys’ Brigade footballing talent in the UK is quite remarkable.
“Having tried for many years to win this competition until our first success of last year, we knew just how difficult a task it was going to be to retain the title.
“We would like to congratulate our fellow competitors, the referees, and all of those Boys’ Brigade officers and leaders who assisted in the organisation of the finals.”
“Our travelling party of boys and staff stayed for the weekend at the fantastic new Northern Ireland Boys’ Brigade Headquarters in Newport and were looked after so well. “We would welcome the opportunity in the future of hosting the Finals in South Shields and reciprocating the welcome and hospitality we received.’
The team representing the 15th South Shields Company was Jordan Brindle (17, captain), Harry Edwardson (15), Samuel Ingamells (18), James Ingoe (18), Harry Ludlow (16) and Michael O’Neil (18), all of whom had been part of the successful team in 2017.
The winning team’s coach, Daniel Gicquel, said: “The boys have performed fantastically well.
“To win the competition two years in a row is an incredible achievement. They deserve enormous credit for their hard work and application.
“Their dedication and commitment in training has certainly played a big part and I wish them all the very best in their footballing careers.
“I am extremely proud of the boys and the Company is of course overjoyed at their success.’