#EduFootyAid: The South battle hard but the Midlands prove too tough to break down

June 10, 2019

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From Liverpool’s dismantling of Barcelona to Ruiz’s demolition of Joshua, the sporting world has seen a lot of shock results lately, but this wasn’t one of them. In our pre-match report, we predicted the Midland’s team experience would prove the decisive factor, and it did.

The South drew their squad from East Anglia, London, and the South East; most of the players had never met in person. They had 30 minutes on the training pitch before kick-off, but even Sir Alex in his prime couldn’t create cohesion in that short time. As the head of the host school, James Hughes, naturally emerged as the leader, doing his best to shape this group of strangers into a team. And to be fair, as they got stuck into some pre-match drills, things looked promising.

Enter the Midlands. They arrived together on a team bus, and bar matching tracksuits and brand-name headphones, they looked every bit a proper side. As they strode onto the pitch for their warmup, they exuded a confidence that was difficult to ignore for the Southern players.

Both teams looked the business thanks to kits provided by Dunbar Education Recruitment and Bee Digital. Before kick-off the opposing captains exchanged gifts, with the South offering up a stick of Brighton rock in return for a case of Shropshire Gold beer. One nil to the South. And there was also a pre-match presentation made to a local boy named Harvey, who had read Striker Boy, and loved it so much he’d written an incredibly thoughtful letter to 2Simple. He was welcomed onto the pitch and received a copy of Striker Boy signed by England international Declan Rice.

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The final score would be a conclusive 4-0 to the Midlands, but as is so often the case in football, the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. It was a competitive game from start to finish, with possession fairly evenly split. But the Midland’s superior discipline meant they were able to prevent the South creating clear cut opportunities. And when their own chances came, they were brutally clinical.

Kevin Sandwith opened the scoring on 16 minutes with a blistering strike from outside the area and Dion Graham made it two before half-time. Although he didn’t get on the score sheet, Midland’s winger Sam Griffiths earned a mention as he terrorised the South all game with his powerful running on and off the ball. Dion found the net again at 65 minutes and Midland’s skipper Lee James put the game to bed with a late penalty that was almost saved by the South’s second half keeper Chris Klein.

None of the Southern players had a bad game and there was some exceptional individual talent on display. Despite his team shipping four goals, centre-back Tom Buksztel picked up the ‘BeeDigital Player of the Match Award’ and it was well earned. The South’s own Van Dijk, he was both efficient in the tackle and comfortable in possession. Sam Stewart also shone in the centre of the pitch, always calm on the ball and never wasteful in possession.

But the real reason everyone was there was to promote wellbeing in education and raise money for Mind. And in that respect both teams were champions. This game alone raised over £1,000, taking the #EduFootyAid total to over £5,500. And it was fantastic to see so many dedicated and passionate teachers bonded together by their love of the beautiful game. After the match both teams headed to a local pub where they enjoyed a free round courtesy of Bee Digital and everyone was eager to know who they would be playing next.

Nothing has been announced yet, but it’s looking likely that the Midlands will go on to face the North East, who are yet to be beaten. There are no easy games in #EduFootyAid and the South are going to need to rebuild ahead of a probable clash with the North West. However, before either of those games is announced we’ll be setting a date for our first ever all-female #EduFootyAid fixture, so stay tuned.

If you work in a school and would like to be a part of #EduFootyAid, you can find out more, here.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors Bee Digital, Dunbar Education Recruitment, and The TES. Without their support this game simply wouldn’t have been possible.