Croydon Eagles kick off with Surrey Cup Victory

By Tim Matthias

The Croydon Eagles have just put down their mark on the Surrey mental health league by being crowned the winners of the Surrey Community Cup. Croydon Eagles are Crystal Palace FC and Mind In Croydon’s representatives in the Surrey FA mental health league.

In a brilliant day at the Walton-on-Thames venue that will be used for all the forthcoming fixtures in the league, the sun shone in more ways than one. Five teams competed in a league format with the top team winning. We began the day with a longer than expected walk to the venue. This happened to take in a nice stroll along a very picturesque part of the River Thames, which we used as our warm up for the tournament. A masterstroke by Peter Rogers as it turned out. We were made to feel very welcome by the organisers and the other teams. We were the new team so this was appreciated.

To the tournament; we kicked off with a very tight game against the current league and cup holders Kingstonian Mind. We eventually prevailed with a 1-0 win, thanks to a great goal by Dan M. We followed this up with another 1-0 win against Rushmoor. Dan M again proving the match winner after coming off the bench following a great tactical decision by player coach Paul Richards and coach Michael Harrington. The next game was won by two goals to nil against Guildford, with goals by Tony Thompson and Paul Richards. This included a free kick routine that could have come straight out of the premier league. This all climaxed in a game versus Woking Minders that might have come out of the pages of Roy of the Rovers.

We required a win or a draw that would win us the trophy. Things started to turn against us when a controversial decision resulted in Woking taking the lead. This they held until the final few minutes. We all thought that was it, ‘plucky losers’, a term we wanted to shake. The ball fell to our former keeper, Gel Clifford, who had been playing outfield due to two broken fingers. He made a run, found his spot, and bang 1-1. The cup was heading back to Croydon, with the unlikely hero getting the crucial goal. No offence Gel.

After five years of trying, the Eagles had their trophy. It feels brilliant for these guys who have seen tough times to go through this journey together. The tournament was played in a really good spirit and we were touched by the ovation we received from all the other teams. We look forward to the coming season with high hopes and we hope that our continued partnership with Crystal Palace FC and Mind In Croydon brings us more success on and off pitch.

With thanks to Peter Rogers and Alex Rolfe-Sanders (Mind), Paul Richards and Michael Harrington (Crystal Palace Foundation).

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