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A thumping header eight minutes from time from Captain Adur Turgut saw Walthamstow become the first club for over a decade to retain the Essex Sunday Veterans Cup as Laindon Athletic were defeated, 2-1.
As the first side from the largely North London-based Garston Veterans League to enter, and then win the Sunday Veterans Cup last season with an impressive win over previously unbeaten Vincitori, Player-Boss Ismet Turkoglu’s side turned even more heads in returning to the final and lifting the trophy for a second successive season.
This equalled the feat of Ford (Basildon) in claiming back-to-back titles. “Unbelievable isn’t it, we done it!” exclaimed Goalkeeper-Manager Ismet after the game. “When you believe in yourself and you prepare, you can do it. But the important thing is believing.”
Having lifted the trophy for a second time inside as many seasons, Ismet was a proud man and, just as he did a year ago, he dedicated his side’s triumph to the club’s late chairman Turgut Esendagli, who passed away in November 2017. “I hope he can see us from up there,” he said.
“It’s an honour for us [to have won the competition again] and I hope our record stays for a long time and we can enjoy it. As the first London club to be in the final, to win it for a second time is great. We give it to Mr Esendagli again and it’s another gift for him!”
Ismet’s Walthamstow side led early on at Concord Rangers FC’s home as Seazi Tasci’s long-range free kick somehow found its way into the bottom left-hand corner on 6 minutes. Although Laindon equalised through Paul Stringer before half time, Turgut’s late header won the contest.
“It was a good header from the Captain… he smashed it!” said Ismet afterwards. “I think looking for that second goal for a winner was important and we did it and we won it. We had to take our openings with how they [Laindon] played. They played well and have good players, so it’s unlucky for them and lucky for us.”
After Tasci’s free kick from almost 40 yards had edged Walthamstow ahead, chances for Laindon saw Ben Sutton’s own dead ball effort clawed away by Turkoglu and Nick Judd went past the goalkeeper, but fired beyond the far post.
Walthamstow’s Turgut then turned and fired just over from the edge of the box before a great chance saw Tasci burst through on goal, but he shot agonisingly past the post. The miss looked to be costly when Stringer levelled twelve minutes before half time, burying a rebound after Judd’s effort had bounced off a post.
Second-half chances proved to be limited, but Laindon’s Lee Guiver had a shot gathered by Turkoglu and Judd’s header was blocked on the line before Walthamstow won it. Mario Reynas Seyho’s corner was powered home by Turgut’s head from six yards.
The win delighted Walthamstow and now hands the side the opportunity of being the first to win three successive Veterans Cups. Can they do it? “Hopefully!” answered Ismet. “I’m a little bit tired, but hopefully I can carry on next year. As long as I can keep these guys together there’s always a chance for us.”
Laindon Athletic: Chris Howard, Chris Hilleard, Duncan Millar, Darren Weeden, Daniel Dafter, Craig Etherington, Ben Sutton, Glenn Hobden, Lee Guiver, Scott Randall, Nick Judd. Substitutes (repeated): Daniel Clements, Paul Stringer, Martin Buglione, Keith Parker, Paul Hill.
Walthamstow: Ismet Turkoglu, Baris Yildiz, Kazim Aslan, Merden Dag, Jason Walker, Erdal Hazar, Mario Reynas Seyho, Ferhat Erdogan, Erdal Bekler, Adur Turgut, Sezai Tasci. Substitutes (repeated): Serdar Cinar, Hidie Aslan, Roland Gerasimavicius, Ramazan Topal, MesutYilmaz.
Referee: Kirk Edwards (Southend-on-Sea).
Assistant Referees: Chris Bunce (Southend-on-Sea) and Andrew Newman (Southend-on-Sea).
Fourth Official: Matthew Davis (Southend-on-Sea).