Essex Schools representative squads are performing admirably in national and regional competitions, while there has also been cause for celebration with three individual players being called up for England international duty.
There has been a great deal of progress in the English Schools FA (ESFA) Inter-County Competitions across several age groups. On Saturday 8th February alone, four teams were in national semi-final action, while all the boys’ teams and the Under 14s Girls have qualified for the South-East England Schools FA (SEESFA) Semi-Finals. The Under 16s Girls are in a good position to do the same.
David Agass’ Under 14s Boys have made the final of the ESFA PlayStation Inter-County Trophy following a 3-2 victory at home to Hertfordshire in the last four. They’ve also been performing well in their SEESFA group, winning three of their four games - including an 11-0 victory at Suffolk - and drawing the other to finish on top of the table.
The Under 14s Girls, managed by Georgia Maxwell-Jones, reached the Semi-Finals of the ESFA PlayStation Inter-County Trophy but fell to a 7-2 defeat against Middlesex away in the final four. In SEESFA action, just one match has been played so far, which was an impressive 4-1 triumph at home to Hertfordshire.
Without a national age group to enter, the Under 15s Boys have seen mixed fortunes in the SEESFA competition. Carl Papworth’s team have won two and lost two of their four games, though a competitive group, aside from the dominant Norfolk with a 100% record, means they sit in second position. Essex beat Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Matt Hall’s Under 16s Boys narrowly missed out on a place in the ESFA Inter-County Trophy Final when they lost 3-2 after extra time at Bedfordshire. However, their positive season has seen them effectively finish top of their SEESFA group with a match to spare courtesy of three wins from three games against Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Bedfordshire.
Despite progressing through two stages, the Under 16s Girls, led by Jo Sibley, eventually bowed out of the ESFA Inter-County Trophy at the quarter-final stage, going out 8-7 on penalties after a 3-3 home draw against Somerset. In the SEESFA, a defeat against Hertfordshire was followed by a strong 10-1 victory over Suffolk.
The Under 18s Boys compete in the Semi-Finals of the ESFA Inter-County Trophy on Monday 24th February when they travel to Gloucestershire. Progress in this competition has meant Graham Hall’s side are yet to take part in a SEESFA game plus, like the Under 16s Boys, the squad also represent the Essex County FA in club representative football.
Internationally, Essex Schools have enjoyed the privilege of seeing three players called-up to England squads during the 2019/20 season. Thomas Duffy (USP College [Palmer’s Campus]) has represented the Under 18s Boys, while Leonie Telford (Philip Morant School and College) and Katie McClean (Davenant Foundation School) have been part of the Under 15s Girls Squad.
Thomas was confirmed as a squad member at the start of December following a rigorous trial process which started in October. Players were first nominated by their county to attend regional trials which led to the construction of four regional squads. These then went head-to-head to form North and South Squads who competed in the final step of the process.
Since selection, Thomas' team started with friendly fixtures against the Royal Air Force (won 4-1) and Australia (drew 1-1) in January. Then they played two further friendlies against UCFB squads before heading away on preparatory training prior to April’s competitive Centenary Shield fixtures against Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Leonie and Katie were named in the 18-player Under 15s Girls Squad in mid-December after a similarly-testing trial process. They kicked-off their international season with a friendly against the Independent Schools FA (ISFA), drawing 2-2 in Surrey in January.
All three Essex representatives are currently in the Netherlands to take part in an 'Eindhoven Tour' training camp, the Under 18s playing one match on a rooftop pitch above an Ikea car park! Both squads made winning starts to their fixtures.
Key: SEESFA - South-East England Schools FA Competition. ESFA - English Schools FA Inter-County Competition.
Under 14s Boys
9th November, vs Norfolk (Fairlop), ESFA1, 5-1
23rd November, vs Hertfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 2-1
7th December, vs Hampshire (Romsey), ESFA2, 2-0
14th December, vs Norfolk (Aylsham FC), SEESFA, 2-2
11th January, vs Surrey (Bedfont Rec), ESFAQF, 3-2
18th January, vs Suffolk (Ipswich Town FC Training Ground), SEESFA, 11-0
1st February, vs Bedfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 4-0
8th February, vs Hertfordshire (Brentwood School), ESFASF, 3-2
Date TBC, vs Lancashire (Venue TBC), ESFAF
Under 14s Girls
12th October, vs Hertfordshire (Shrub End), SEESFA, 4-1
14th December, vs Surrey (Walton Sports Hub), ESFA2, 3-2
11th January, vs Gloucestershire (Kingsford School), ESFAQF, 3-1
7th February, vs Middlesex (Away), ESFASF, 2-7
Date TBC, vs Suffolk, SEESFA
Under 15s Boys
23rd November, vs Hertfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 2-0
14th December, vs Norfolk (Aylsham FC), SEESFA, 1-3
18th January, vs Suffolk (Ipswich Town FC Training Ground), SEESFA, 1-2
1st February, vs Bedfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 6-1
Under 16s Boys
9th November, vs Norfolk (Fairlop), ESFA1, 4-3
23rd November, vs Hertfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 3-2
7th December, vs Kent (Brentwood School), ESFA2, 2-1
14th December, vs Norfolk (Aylsham FC), SEESFA, 3-0
18th January, vs Hertfordshire (Kingsford School), ESFAQF, 2-1 (aet)
1st February, vs Bedfordshire (Fairlop), SEESFA, 2-0
8th February, vs Bedfordshire (Flitwick), ESFASF, 2-3 (aet)
22nd February, vs Suffolk (Needham Market FC), SEESFA
Under 16s Girls
12th October, vs Hertfordshire (Shrub End), SEESFA, 0-1
9th November, vs Surrey (Abbey Rangers FC), ESFA1, 3-0
14th December, vs Middlesex (Shrub End), ESFA2, W/O
11th January, vs Somerset (Kingsford School), ESFAQF, 3-3 (aet, 7-8 pens)
8th February, vs Suffolk (AFC Sudbury), SEESFA, 10-1
Under 18s Boys
25th November, vs Kent 'B' (Away), SEESFA, 4-4
Date N/A, vs Surrey, ESFA2, Walkover
20th January, vs Somerset (Aveley FC), ESFAQF, 4-1
24th February, vs Gloucestershire (Hartpury College), ESFASF