RAF Festival of Football 2012

RAF Marham FC has endured an extensive period of transition during recent seasons. Over recent years, our football club has shown flashes of potential. Always the nearly men, semi-finalists, the team nobody wants to play, yet always lacking that clinical edge that wins trophies. We have been somewhat of a sleeping giant in the world of RAF football.

This season however the mood is different. We are a better managed, well trained, more equipped club, with the emphasis on the word “club”. We are currently unbeaten in every competition format we are competing in, which has bred confidence. The confidence that allows you to enter every game with a belief was no more apparent than at the festival of football 2012. The competition comprises of about 40 teams from all RAF stations, and a number of civilian teams. It is a five-a-side based game for eight minutes of non-stop frantic football which is run as a group stage followed by knockout rounds. The teams who win their group progress in to what is know as the cup competition and the 2nd place teams enter the plate competition. It is a day that requires fitness, skill, determination, and above all team work.

The day began with a 5.45 am drive to the JJB arena in Derby. A three hour journey that early in the morning will always mean you are heavy legged and due a potentially slow start. With that in mind the Marham 1st team began there day with a narrow 1-0 win, and the 2nd team also began slowly with a 1-1 draw. However, as the day progressed, both teams began to play the football we knew we are capable of and we began picking up more and more victories with commanding score lines. As the group stage drew to a close, Marham 1st team had won every match, only conceding one goal. The second team had managed to win their final games, only to have other results go against them, eventually finding themselves in the plate competition.

Both teams then progressed through there respective competitions. Marham 1st team had the joy of meeting their rivals in the league RAF Coningsby, who were also the festival of football holders. At this stage last year they knocked us out, as they had done on two previous occasions. The semi final stage boasted three teams from the same league; Marham, Wittering and Coningsby, proving that the Lincolnshire services league is the toughest league in the RAF. The game was always going to be feisty, with big tackles being put in with each side trying to dominate proceedings. It was Marham that made the break through, a stunning strike from an acute angle by SAC Congleton. A second soon followed with a drive hard and low from distance, from Captain SAC Lonergan. We were 2-0 up and cruising until a great strike from close range brought the holders back into contention. However, the lads managed to hold on with a number of amazing saves and last ditch tackles from SAC Jones and Cpl Pippard. It was finally over and Marham’s Semi final curse had been lifted. On to the final and a chance at glory!

The 2nd team had progressed comfortably to the plate final and had won that game with a score line of 3-1. The 1st team won their final 2-1. Both finals were tight affairs and very tense to watch, never mind be part of. Both sets of squads were left exhausted, yet beaming with pride at our achievements. It was the first time in the history of the competition that two teams from the same station had won both competitions. All said and done, it was the two best teams that claimed victory. A massive thank you has to go to all the organisers of the competition and the RAF FA and to the officials who took part and made it happen.

The final word goes to the OIC Flt Lt Rutherford. ‘I would like to congratulate the lads on what is a magnificent achievement. Our success at this year’s festival of football is yet another sign that RAF Marham is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of RAF football. As a player and the OIC, I know that we are capable of winning every competition we are involved in, the RAF cup being the golden chalice. Cpl Nicky Smith, the first team manager, is creating a footballing class well above station level. RAF Marham has the potential to dominate RAF football as Wittering and Leeming have done before us. Finally, if you would like to join our club and be part of what we are creating then come to training at 1730L every Monday night and introduce yourself to Nicky’.

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