Stoke Newington girls savour cup successes at both Spurs and Arsenal
- Credit: Archant
Stoke Newington School have preserved their status as one of the most decorated bastions of girls’ football after tasting double cup success in recent weeks.
The Clissold Road school has a history of producing excellent teams under the stewardship of coach and former pupil Ian Bruce, having won the Under-15 London Cup last year.
That age group managed to prolong their dominance by winning this year’s Under-16s event – following swiftly on the heels of the Under- 13s, who were crowned Premier League Schools Tournament champions the previous week.
Bruce, who left the school as a pupil in 2003 and returned as a PE teacher in 2009, was naturally overjoyed with the achievements of his two sides.
“I’m so proud of them all. The level of application in training has been terrific and they deserve this success,” said Bruce, who has plans to start his own women’s team in the near future.
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“Their passion and dedication has been second to none. I’m very lucky to have such a brilliant team spirit full of such committed girls.
“I feel sorry I can’t yet include my middle team [Under-14s] who are also in the London Cup – I wish them all the best of luck in their final in a couple of weeks’ time.”
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The Under-13s qualified in February for the Premier League event through an Arsenal Schools Tournament that involved 32 representatives from Islington, Hackney and Camden.
Having won the honour of representing Arsenal on Tottenham’s White Hart Lane pitch, they played against other teams from the respective catchment areas of the 19 other Premier League sides.
After comfortably navigating past Manchester United, Newcastle, QPR and Southampton in the group stages, Arsenal beat Hull City 3-1 in the last four to set up a final with Everton.
A narrow 2-1 win for the Gunners meant the Stoke Newington girls could re-enact the famous scenes that greeted the men’s Premier League title confirmation at the home of their rivals in 2004.
Holding aloft a smaller replica of that trophy in front of the away stand, tournament top scorer Paige Bailey Gayle told the Gazette how playing at White Hart Lane had galvanised the side.
“We won it because of our team spirit,” she said. “We wanted to win it a lot more and we knew what it would mean, especially here because most of us are Arsenal fans.”
The Under-16 team were not to be outdone by their younger counterparts in the London Cup, and hundreds of spectators saw the side defeat Grey Coat Hospital 8-3 in the final at the Emirates.
It was the perfect way for the side to cap five years under coach Bruce, as most of the Year 11 side will now depart for college.
The team’s captain Chelsie Osbourne said: “I still can’t believe that we played at Emirates Stadium – it was an incredible experience and we’re all so grateful.
“To win the London Cup topped it off and made it all the more special. It will be a memory I’ll never forget.”