The 10-year path to becoming National Champions – Mr Cartwright (CHS Junior School Teacher)

by Mr Cartwright, Junior School Teacher

The earliest record of Infant & Junior School participation in girls’ football fixtures coincides with the inception of Stockport West Area Schools Association (WASA) Football Tournament in 2013. Traditionally this was the only competitive fixture that the Girls participated in on an annual basis. In 2012/13 Mr Morris & Mrs Walker coached the team and the first match was on the 17th April 2013. They won 2 out of 3 group matches to be beaten in penalties in the semi-final by Greenbank. Ella Oakes, Allana Ranson & Jessica Jones were all noted in the match report for excellent performances. 

In 2013/14 the Junior School girls entered both the WASA and the AJIS Girls Football Festival. The teams grew in confidence and ability, winning a number of matches at each but victorious in neither. Team: Emily Barber, Ella Bond, Ava Cunliffe, Beck Johnson, Libby McCoy(Capt), Natalya Smith, Ellie Seddon(Vice-Capt), Felice Wardle.

The WASA Tournament in 2014/15 saw CHS really compete for the first time. The format of the tournament was a round robin, this resulted in CHS and Lane End tied on points, Lane End won on goal difference. CHS also played a friendly fixture against Alderley Edge School for Girls, winning 7-1. Tillie Conroy was ‘Player of the Tournament’.

CHS Junior School won the WASA Shield for the first time in 2015/16, now regular attendees at the WASA Tournament, Mr Cooke now supporting Mrs Walker with girls football. The girls played fantastically, winning the tournament playing some excellent football, passing the ball brilliantly and finishing their chances .

Then 2016/17 season saw four girls football fixtures, the team beat Lane End 4-1, finished 4th out of 6 in the AJIS festival, lost to the U10 CHS boys team and came 2nd in the WASA tournament (picture below). 

The AJIS competition was sadly cancelled in 2017/18, but girls football club continued, a strong Hursthead team dominated the WASA despite the best efforts of the CHS team. More opportunities for girls football were developing as they also participated in a festival at Terra Nova School that year.

Girls football grew dramatically in popularity during the year, with 21 girls in Year 5 & 6 wishing to participate, 14 of which playing in the U11A team in the AJIS Festival, WASA Tournament or stand alone fixtures against Pownall Green & Lady Barn.

This was a turning point for girls football in the Junior School. Football club continued as a Year 5 & 6 cocurricular club in the spring term each year with numbers slowly growing. In 2019/20 the Junior School redeveloped the Games curriculum to allow pupils more exposure to a wider range of sports, this included Year 5 & 6 girls enjoying a half term of football as part of the curriculum; including formal coaching from the PE & Games staff.

The U11 Girls Football team again won the WASA cup and performed admirably in the AJIS U11 Girls Football festival where Leila Iddon was voted player of the festival but Ruby James scored a hatrick in a 5-0 victory in the group stages. 

The 19/20 squad also managed to play one other game against Lady Barn, winning both A & B before, COVID put an end to fixtures (and sport) for the season.

Due to the various restrictions placed on schools and sports during COVID football club did not take place in the 20/21 season and we only managed to get one A&B fixture in the calendar during the summer term.

After the Pandemic, our pupils returned to CHS raring to go and eager for competitive fixtures, Girls Football was in such demand it required 3 members of staff to run the co-curricular club for the 30+ Y5 & 6s keen to learn! Mr Offord & Mr Cartwright now at the helm ably assisted by Mr Bidwell. 

The Girls entered the Manchester City Festival, making it to the quarter finals, went undefeated claiming the AJIS Girls’ Football Cup, went to Terra Nova Tournament making it to the semi-final to be knocked out by Stockport Grammar and entered the ISFA U11 National Cup for the first time, failing to qualify for the National Finals only on goal difference. (SGS & Terra Nova went through). The team played SGS in a friendly for their final game, winning after their previous defeat!

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WASA Girls Football

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After narrowly missing out on qualification to the National Finals of the ISFA Cup in the 21/22 season the team and staff set National Qualification as their target for the 22/23 season. They got off to a great start taking two teams to the WASA tournament in the Autumn Term, many girls playing football for the first time. The A were undefeated winning the competition on goal difference and the B team played three games: one win, one draw, one, loss.

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Following the WASA tournament CHS hosted Didsbury CofE Primary School, West Didsbury PS and Terra Nova for friendly fixtures, offering all girls the chance to play in a competitive fixture. 

This year, for the first time, the AJIS Girls Football Festival was changed to a tournament with an official ‘Cup’ for the winners. A record 14 other AJIS Schools entered the tournament and CHS were able to take 24 girls (3 teams) to participate. All girls were able to apply the skills they had been learning in Games and during football club. The A Team went undefeated and were the first team to have their name engraved onto the AJIS Cup, the B & C teams had a mixture of results, winning more than they lost – a great achievement playing against other school’s A teams.

Girls Football now in full swing in the Spring term the team entered the Stockport Grammar Football Festival, although this wasn’t a tournament the team showed great growth and progress – especially positional and tactical awareness. The team were starting to solve problems on the pitch themselves and leaders were beginning to appear – most notably Myla Twemlow & Darcy James. The Year 5 girls looked at home playing in an U11 team. Holly Williamson & Penny Robinson played well in attack and Sienna Evans was lethal from all areas of the pitch – she even scored from a free kick inside her own half.

Wednesday 20th June 2023 – U11 ISFA Girls National Finals @ St George’s Park

After the Regional Qualification rounds the top two teams from each of the six areas progressed to the finals day. The top two teams from each group would go straight to the semi-finals before deciding the final teams. CHS faced Highgate, Lambrook School, St Mary’s Hampstead, Royal Russell and Warwick Prep. Magnay, Evans, Robinson and Williamson worked hard in various combinations of an attacking 3, Magnay in particular ran her absolute socks off in an attempt to wear down opposition defences, pressuring them into mistakes for her CHS team mates to make the most of.

Darcy James (CB) & Twemlow (CDM) were formidable in defence, closing down almost all opposition attacks before combining with the wingers to distribute the ball out wide. Tebbutt, Preston & Goldblatt all rotated at James’ defensive partner, each having their own strength to contribute to a solid defensive performance resulting in CHS not conceding a single goal in the group stage and qualifying top of the group. 

As CHS moved into the Semi-Final they found themselves against a known opposition in GSaL. The game was tied 0-0 at half time before CHS took the lead early in the second half before the same striker from the regional round found herself 1v1 with Gilligan and beat her in the top corner. Penalties.

James won the toss and opted to go first. 

Twemlow scored, GSaL scored (1-1)

James’ penalty was saved, Gilligan saved GSaL’s second attempt (1-1).

Evans scored, GSaL missed (2-1)

The final was an evenly matched game against Thomas’ Fulham, despite Evans’ repeated shots on target the Thomas’ goalkeeper kept them in the game. Likewise Gilligan, bolstered with confidence from saving a penalty in the semi-final, was on fire – making multiple saves and marshalling the defenders to close down Thomas’ attacking threats. At the end of regular time it was 0-0, penalties.

This time CHS would take their penalties second, Twemlow & James both scored as did Thomas’ Fulham (2-2). Thomas’ missed their 3rd penalty, as Evans stepped up to the penalty spot CHS knew if she scored it then they would be crowned National Champions… 

Whilst we as a School are unbelievably proud of the national success of the current squad of U11 girls and their achievements, it is clear to see that the foundations for this success were put down a long time ago. I had not realised until writing this piece how many pupils, and staff, have contributed to football in the Junior School or how long girls’ football had been in existence. I would like to thank all those, pupils & staff, that have paved the way for these young ladies and I very much look forward to hearing of their continued success as they continue to represent CHS football teams in the Senior School and beyond.

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CHS Junior School Football Players 2012-2023

The squads below are the best of our knowledge based on the records held but may not be exhaustive. 

12/13 Squad: Ella Oakes, Allana Ranson & Jessica Jones, Unknown – no team sheet available.

13/14 Squad: Team: Emily Barber, Ella Bond, Ava Cunliffe, Beck Johnson, Libby McCoy(Capt), Natalya Smith, Ellie Seddon(Vice-Capt), Felice Wardle.

14/15 Squad: Elora Cripps, Tillie Conroy, Anique Kuiper, Kiera Robinson(Capt), Molly Thompson(Vice-Capt), Grace Haughton, Lottie Gower, Tiana Hira, Tillie Conroy.

15/16 Squad: Holly Seddon, Hattie Snell, Issy Broadbent, Edie Broster, Keira Owen(Capt), Rosie Calton, Emelia Simkins-Cowell.

16/17 Squad: Gabriella Adams, Madison Gleave, Layla Jones, Martha Jones, Gabby McIntyre, Aleeza Bani, Daisy Lees, Martha Thompson, Olivia Leslie, Freya Rhodes,Taliha Doran, Freya Crossley all played for CHS that season.

17/18 Squad:  Aleeza Bani, Daisy Lees(Capt), Francesca Porter, Sophia Bandeva, Katie Morrow, Tabitha Perls(Vice-Capt), Zoe Seddon & Sasha Wardrop. 

18/19 Squad: Sophia Bandeva, Katie Morrow, Tabitha Perls, Martha Stocks-Walker, Sasha Wardrop, Leila Iddon, Audrey Watt, Summer Newman, Eleanor Wood, Lucy Barraclough, Leila Green, Katie Morrow, Zoe Seddon, Megan Banks, Alicia Crevillen, Ava Merryman, Erin Misselbrook, Emmeline Roberts, Neve Leckie Traynor, Beth Taylor, Jennifer Sherlock, Grace Bullbrook, Beatrice West.

20/21 Squad: Katie Atkinson, Maddie Kinsella, Annabelle Morton, Isla Crossley, Ellie Braine, Tilly Thompson, Connie Bradley, Alice Paxton, Autumn Broady, Jess Farrelly, Niamh McDonagh, Thea Uprichard, Megan Brown, Lila Steiner, Jemima Vaughan, Sophie Cook

21/22 Squad: Eloise Gartside(Capt), Elsie Daw. Evie Fryer, Lexie Lapenna, Myla Twemlow, Sienna Evans, Jessica Flynn, Darcy James, Rianna Henry, Assisi Bowler, Katie Double, Ani Khanna, Willow Parry, Nikki Nozari, Phoebe Tebbutt, Esme Gilligan Emma Leckie-Traynor. Lola Buckby, Ada Byrne, Kanisha Gangani, Aamyna Malik, Noor Mohyuddin, Holly McKnight

22/23 Squad: Phoebe Adams-Mercer, Poppy Anthon-Phillips, Zara Baglin, Marie Boardman, Sophia Bowker, Alexa Bowl, Anna Cunningham Olivia Ellison, Chloe Colton-Elsby, Sienna Evans*, Ada Fraser, Esme Gilligan*, Sienna Goldbaltt*, Hattie Gosnell, Ella Henry, Leila Holt, Alice Horn, Darcy James ©*, Yasmin Keenan, Lucy Magnay, Sophie McGrath, Isabella Montaldo, Liesel Nelson, Trixie Perry, Bella Preston*, Giulia Pullen, Penny Robinson*, Mehna Saggar, Jessica Saxton, Liberty Stott, Emma Sumner, Ella Tebbutt*, Myla Twemlow*, Hollie Williamson*, Neena Wiseman, Florrie Woodhouse.

*ISFA Cup Team.

Staff: Mr Morris, Mr Cooke, Mrs Walker, Miss Bentley, Mr Wood, Mr Bidwell, Mr Mason, Mr Offord & Mr Morais.