Author Archives: Chris Hood


The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

Powerful Lakeside got their SGB Championship campaign off to a perfect start with a convincing 56-34 win over Redcar at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

Will Pottinger’s side were never threatened as they roared to 14 race victories and a comfortable three league points.

It was another step in the right direction for the Hammers to continue their excellent start to life in the second tier – and Pottinger declared himself happy with a job well done.

“Obviously it was another good night for us,” Pottinger said. “It’s great to start our league campaign with a big home win, and also sending the opposition home empty handed as well.

“We had 14 race winners and all the top five scoring paid double figures, so it was a powerful performance and we couldn’t ask for much more really.

“We’re starting to lay the foundations for a dominant season at home, and that’s something we’re extremely happy about.”

Heat-leader duo Nick Morris and Richard Lawson went untroubled to record a full maximum and paid maximum respectively.

But they were backed up magnificently by Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman and Ben Morley, with Ellis suffering just one defeat and Newman capping off a double figure score with a heat 15 victory.

He was joined in the final race by Morley, who also bagged 9+2 points with a battling display.
Zach Wajtknecht also won heat two with a useful showing at reserve, and although lower order partner Alfie Bowtell struggled, the Hammers had more than enough firepower for victory.

Pottinger’s side will now face a run of three straight away fixtures, starting at Ipswich in the Championship Shield on Saturday (7.30pm).

A win at Foxhall could secure progression to the semi-final stage of the competition – and Pottinger has called on his team to pick up where they left off to earn their second win of the year against the Witches.

He added: “We’ll go to Ipswich with a lot of confidence, and we know a good result will put us in with an excellent chance of progressing from our group.

“We’ve had three good wins at home so now we’ll be looking to do the business away, and hopefully tonight’s result can fill us with the confidence to go there and win.”

LAKESIDE 56: Nick Morris 12, Richard Lawson 11+1, Kyle Newman 11, Ben Morley 9+2, Adam Ellis 9+2, Zach Wajtknecht 4, Alfie Bowtell 0.
REDCAR 34: Ben Barker 12, Theo Pijper 6+2, Kevin Doolan 5+1, Mikkel B Andersen 4, Matej Kus 3, Jordan Stewart 2+2, Tobias Busch 2+2.
Championship points: Lakeside 3 Redcar 0


IPSWICH: Danny King, Michael Haertel, Rory Schlein, Cameron Heeps, Nico Covatti, Connor Mountain, Danyon Hume.
LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Ben Morley, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Richard Lawson, Zach Wajtknecht, Alfie Bowtell.

Essex Welcomes FA Girls’ Football Week

Chris Evans reports…


Get Active, Meet New Friends and Have Fun!

FA Girls’ Football Week is coming to Essex from Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th April and the Essex County FA are excited to promote further opportunities for girls to get active, meet new friends and have fun!

Girls’ Football Week is a week of activities designed to get as many girls involved in playing football as possible. Whether they play regularly or are lacing their boots for the first time, it is a great chance for everyone to enjoy football! Clubs all over Essex are planning and delivering activities throughout the week, with support and resources from The FA who have teamed-up with Disney to inject some extra fun into football and get girls active.

Disney are supporting The FA with a range of resources which use storytelling to deliver football-related activities. Girls’ Football Week will feature activities and games inspired by well-loved Disney stories and characters, allowing girls’ taking part to imagine the fantasy world of their favourite Disney films whilst also learning and developing essential skills.

Emma Burden, Football Development Officer at the Essex County FA, says it’s still not too late to get involved: “Any organisation that has young females who would benefit from being more active can enjoy FA Girls’ Football Week,” she explained. “This could be a youth club, brownies, guides, after-school sessions, a boys’ clubs that doesn’t have a girls’ section, a coaching company that doesn’t provide sessions for girls. Anyone can join in!”

“Anyone can run fun sessions which are inclusive and engage with all girls, regardless of ability.  Sometimes we are all guilty of getting really enthused when we see talented athletes. We need to focus on all girls and make sure they’re getting really fun outcomes from being involved in football. So festivals, after-school matches and skill sessions, ‘come and try’ sessions are all brilliant to be involved in. There are no rules… be creative!”

Last year’s FA Girls’ Football Week was a huge success and Emma believes this is a great time to play girls football in Essex: “Historically, Essex has always been really engaged in Girls’ Football Week. I think the record number of events we have ever had register is 73. The number of opportunities to participate is increasing all the time.”

“We are holding bi-monthly festivals around the county for girls aged six and over, the Essex County Girls’ League are offering fixtures for girls aged nine and above and the Brentwood Community Football Alliance are involved in a pilot which allows girls to play a year down within their league. We also have 28 SSE Wildcats centres operating throughout the county, so localised opportunities are available for any girl in Essex.”


Lakeside Speedway – FRIDAY PREVIEW

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

LAKESIDE boss Will Pottinger wants his powerhouse side to keep winning races as they host Redcar on Friday (8pm).

The Hammers have accounted for 21 wins out of 30 heats in their opening two home fixtures and have quickly started to establish home dominance.

They will now kick-off their SGB Championship campaign against the Bears, with Pottinger targeting a big three points.

“Our home Championship Shield victories over Peterborough and Ipswich were very pleasing for a variety of reasons,” Pottinger said.

“Most importantly, we won and denied the opposition any points on both occasions which has put us into a strong position”.

“We won 11 heats against Peterborough and 10 heats against Ipswich and the nice thing is that the race wins were split between four or five riders.

“It’s encouraging because we’re not having to rely on our heat leaders alone for race wins. Also, we ran only one last place from our top five riders in both meetings so we’re starting to develop into quite a solid team around our home track.

“Redcar have gone for a more strength in depth approach to their team this season so I’ve got no doubt that they’ll be a hard team to break down, but we’ll be looking to carry on from where we left off last week as we try to continue developing a good home track advantage.”

Lakeside are at full strength, whilst Redcar have drafted in Kevin Doolan to guest for Jonas B Andersen, who is riding in a Danish Championship qualifier.

LAKESIDE: Nick Morris, Ben Morley, Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Richard Lawson, Zach Wajtknecht, Alfie Bowtell.

REDCAR: Ben Barker, Jordan Stewart, Kevin Doolan, Mikkel B Andersen, Matej Kus, Tobias Busch, Theo Pijper.

£1m FA Boost for Male Grassroots Clubs

Chris Evans reports…


‘Retain the Game’ Grants Support Existing Adult Teams

Essex will be benefit from a proportion of a brand new £1 million ‘Retain the Game’ funding scheme for adult male football teams designed to boost football’s traditional format following a recent decrease in the numbers.

Retain the Game, which is funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation, is offering existing grassroots clubs grants of £750 to continue offering valued playing opportunities in organised football. These grants will support clubs’ adult male teams in three age categories: Under 17s to 21s, Open-Age and Veterans.

The grants are designed to cover core costs which are incurred by grassroots clubs, including matchday and training facility hire, first aid training and new Nike kit and equipment through a bespoke voucher. The Essex County FA are providing support with applications and grassroots adult clubs who meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply:

o   two or more adult male teams who hold the FA’s Adult Charter Standard, Charter Standard Development or Charter Standard Community Awards

o   two or more adult male teams who commit to achieving FA Adult Charter Standard status within the 2018/19 season


This push to reverse the decline in adult male league football follows the recent 2018 Grow the Game funding window, which made £1.5 million available for grassroots clubs looking to create new women’s and girls’ or disability teams. This offer was met by an overwhelming response and it is predicted this year’s investment will create around 1,000 new teams.

As well as Retain the Game, the Football Foundation delivers the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund through Sport England. Since 2000, the Foundation has supported over 17,000 grassroots projects worth more than £1.4bn. Retain the Game is inclusive of players from different ethnic backgrounds, faiths and sexual orientations. Should the fund be oversubscribed, clubs who meet the following criteria will be prioritised:

o   in existence for ten or more seasons

o   in existence for between five and nine seasons

o   three or more adult male teams

o   operate in leagues employing The FA’s ‘Full Time’ system


Essex County FA Football Development Officer, Jake Stephenson, knows adult male 11v11 football needs more attention: “Within the modern game, adult 11v11 will always need additional support in order to steady the decline nationally. It’s a key focus of ours to sustain and retain existing adult clubs within the traditional 11v11 format, whilst simultaneously providing support for a variety of formats by offering a different option for all.”

Jake started his role in November and he’s excited to oversee the work taking place to arrest the decline in numbers: “I’ve been captivated by the knowledge and continued passion of the team. I’m most impressed by the volunteers, managers and coaches of Essex teams. Their enthusiasm is particularly infectious and I look forward to offering support to those individuals.”

“There’s a variety of areas being discussed at present, nationally and across the county. We’re consulting with adult leagues to analyse best practice and hosting working group meetings. Teams can access support documents and services through our website and our ‘Squad Booster’ service. We’re also offering further ‘Flexi-Football’ and Mars ‘Just Play’ Centre opportunities so we can then signpost individuals back into the 11v11 format where possible.”



Leigh Ramblers (Blues) 0-1 West Ham United (AET) (Essex Under 14s Girls Cup Final)

Chris Evans reports…

Leigh Ramblers (Blues) 0-1 West Ham United (after extra time), Sunday 15th April 2018, Kick-Off 2:30pm, Leslie Field, Essex Under 14s Girls Cup Final.

A goal late into extra time from Melia La sealed the Essex Under 14s Girls Cup for West Ham United, despite last-gasp penalty drama.

Las’s fine strike arrived in the final minute of the allotted 20 in extra time, however some six minutes into added time Leigh Ramblers were awarded a penalty which skipper Beth Brogan agonisingly sent just over the crossbar. That proved to be the last kick of the final.

“It was a tense game and it was end-to-end but, if I recall correctly, we hit the post four times, so it was agonising at both ends,” said Hammers coach Stephen Opoka after the match. “I think even Leigh Ramblers hit the post against us as well.

“It was a tense game and the girls did well to dig deep and show desire to win. We spoke during the break that we were having chances, but to be careful that if we don’t score and the longer we don’t score it gives the other team a chance to get into the game.”

The young Hammers overcame that threat, grabbing a late winner of their own, but it could’ve been different following a late handball in the penalty area, not that Stephen was ever concerned: “I wasn’t worried too much that they were going to score the penalty.”

“I was confident in my ‘keeper that Lilly would’ve made a save if it was on-target. I think the goal was well-deserved. We’d hit a few long-range shots and Melia scored an excellent goal and that’s something she’s been doing week in, week out for us all season.”

It was a good day for West Ham, with their ladies’ First Team also winning the Women’s Premier League Plate, and Stephen was pleased his side could grab a piece of their own glory: “We’ve had a good season, so we said to the girls to make sure we end the season on a high because we started the season well and we’ve continued it. We’ve done that today. We’ve emulated the First Team and it filters right down to the academy.”

Despite remaining goalless for so long, the game certainly wasn’t without action and, with only four minutes on the clock, Deyarni Lionel was through on goal for the Hammers, but Leigh goalkeeper Holly Shaw blocked well.

A similar opening at the other end then saw West Ham stopper Lilly Hadrava save from Marni Harriman before the Hammers hit the post for the first time. La’s low shot was tipped onto the post by Shaw and then Charis Howell’s effort almost bounced in, but it struck the foot of the left-hand upright.

In first-half stoppage time, Ramblers could’ve taken the lead if not for two fine saves from Hadrava to deny Hannah Warner, with the second seeing the ball tipped onto the outside of the post. The woodwork was then busy once more when West Ham struck the post a third time, Nicole Beasley’s lob bouncing wide. At the other end, Ramblers’ Macie Windsor saw her own lob well saved by Hadrava.

West Ham’s Sophia Cocca then pulled an effort inches wide and Lionel got herself through on goal, but then she lobbed her strike just over the top with the last chance of regulation time. Into extra time, Hammers’ La went clean through with just the ‘keeper to beat and watched her shot pushed out to Lionel, who couldn’t quite convert.

West Ham struck the post again through Cocca from long range but, on 90 minutes, they did take the lead when La fired a low, angled shot into the bottom left-hand corner. That goal ultimately won the game, but not until Leigh squandered their penalty opportunity in the sixth minute of added time.

Ramblers had piled on late pressure with three successive corners and it was following the third of those that a handball was spotted in the box, but Brogan couldn’t take her chance as West Ham won a dramatic final.

Leigh Ramblers (Blues): Holly Shaw, Beth Brogan, Morgan Fletcher, Charlotte Rutt, Hannah Warner, Isabella Darby, Marni Harriman, Emily Gibson, Kirandeep Hundal, Macie Windsor, Scarlett Aladetoyinbo-Williams. Substitutes (repeated): Macey Woolcock, Gabriella Rockenbach, Millie Langley, Carman Hollington.

West Ham United: Lilly Hadrava, Deyarni Lionel, Daphne Gavilanes Vaca, Chloe Tambula, Melia La, Francesca Whiting, Sophia Cocca, Chloe Brand, Carlie Dinham, Nicole Beasley, Rhiana Smith. Substitutes (repeated): Grace Collins-Edwards, Charis Howell.

Referee: Xanthe Davis (Braintree).

Assistant Referees: Emilia Dingwell (Southend-on-Sea) and Harriet Kemp (Thurrock).

Fourth Official: Amy Purser (Braintree).

Attendance: 123.


Barkingside (Blues) 3-0 Great Danes (Lions) (Essex Under 12s Cup Final)

Chris Evans reports…

Barkingside (Blues) 3-0 Great Danes (Lions), Sunday 15th April 2018, Kick-Off 11:00am, Leslie Field, Essex Under 12s Cup Final.

Barkingside (Blues) claimed the Essex Under 12s Cup for the second time in just three years as Great Danes (Lions) were defeated in the final at Burnham Ramblers FC’s Leslie Field home.

Barkingside led early through Christian Munganga before adding second-half Freddie Thorn and Freddie Francis goals to seal the win over their divisional rivals who had inflicted ‘Side’s only defeat of the season earlier in the league campaign. “They played quite well and we didn’t give them a sniff really today,” reflected Barkingside boss Steve Thorn after the game. “It was well-deserved really, but they’re [Great Danes] a great team.”

Thorn’s side won the match thanks to three excellent finishes, with perhaps the crucial second goal, a fine header into the top corner from the boss’ son, the pick of them: “That was my Freddie who scored that header. He’s not bad with his head so he’ll be pleased with that one! I’m pleased for him because he’s done what his brother did three years ago.”

That success three years ago was ‘Side’s previous Under 12s Cup win. For a competition which consistently has over 100 entrants, two successes from one club is a fine achievement, as Steve acknowledges: “It’s fantastic! We’ve still got Nicky Potts here and it’s partly down to him. He’s put us in the right direction, so it’s great.”

Barkingside remain unbeaten in the Echo Junior League and can now add County Cup success to an exhilarating campaign. But while the team will move forward, most likely into the Eastern Junior Alliance next season, Steve may not join them: “It’s been a good team effort from everyone – capped off a good season. You may see the team next season, but you might not see me. You’ve got to go out when you’re on top haven’t you? And I don’t think I could cap this!”

They rarely looked back after grabbing the lead on 6 minutes as Munganga capitalised on a loose ball inside the penalty area and fired home. Great Danes had a chance when Jake Smith’s corner caused problems in the box and the ball had to be cleared off the goal line. ‘Side goalkeeper Casey Clark then raced off his line to smother the ball ahead of Danes’ Ronnie Fry.

Chances did go the way of Barkingside as Jesse Friend’s header was well saved by Danes ‘keeper Samuel Luis following Joe Davis’ dipping cross and, moments later, a corner fell to George Scales, who volleyed over the top. A curling effort from Barkingside’s Davis brought an excellent stop from Luis before Aston Watson Weaver fired inches wide from range.

Into the second period, Freddie Thorn headed wide from Munganga’s corner before Danes skipper Max Porteous made a fine tackle to deny Francis. Barkingside doubled their lead on 40 minutes when another Munganga flag kick found Thorn again, who directed a brilliant angled header into the far top corner.

The result was then put beyond doubt with a third ten minutes later. Francis slipped a low shot beyond ‘keeper Luis. Danes unfortunately went a player down due to a red card, then an excellent save from their ‘keeper Luis saw him grasp onto Francis’ free kick at the second attempt. The last chance of the game arrived through a curling effort from Danes, Aaron Brown’s effort dropping just wide as his side looked for a late consolation.

Barkingside (Blues): Casey Clark, George Scales, Joe Davis, Mason Lloyd, Freddie Thorn, Jesse Friend, Aston Watson Weaver, Dennis Afolabi, Christian Munganga. Substitutes (repeated): James Stevens, Austin Cooper, Freddie Francis.

Great Danes (Lions): Samuel Luis, Ronnie Fry, Harrison Bradbury, Max Porteous, Stan McGarry, Jack McKinnon, Brandan Johns, Jake Smith, Charlie Rich. Substitutes (repeated): Finlay Pounder, Harry Lynn, Daniel Miller, Aaron Brown.

Referee: Callum Townsend (Chelmsford).

Assistant Referees: Alfie Treacher (Southend-on-Sea) and Leon Randall (Redbridge).

Fourth Official: Amy Purser (Braintree).

Attendance: 128.



Baker Philosophical Following Playoff Exit

Dave Ryan reports…

Levett Essex Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was philosophical following his team’s exit from the NBL Division Two play-offs.

The Big Cats went down 84-80 against Westminster Warriors last week, leaving Baker frustrated:

“So the season is officially over for us. A bit prematurely for our liking but it is time now to reflect and grow individually and collectively” he said.

“On the night we couldn’t handle how direct Westminster were and our ability to finish strong at times as well as our shooting at the free throw line hurt us.”

Despite missing out on promotion, Baker was pleased with how his side performed during his first full year as head coach:

“Overall it’s been a season that has challenged all of us and I am proud of the resilience this team has shown across the season.

“Unfortunately in sport there has to be a winner and a loser and we lost on the night. “There have been some notable performances across the season, our captain Dougie [Bennett] stepped up numerous times showing his versatility in ways he can score, “Likewise Will [Ashby] has proven that time and time again. Shaq [Lewis] picking up the Most Improved Player award was hugely deserved and some of my college students in Jose [Morais], Wes [Moore] and Jordan [George] grew as the season went on.

“I will always remember this first full season in a men’s environment for two reasons; the sheer amount of work that goes into running a club and also the satisfaction you get when your team plays how you know they can.

“The support from people involved in the club from backroom staff to players has been massive. We need to build on this for next season. I look forward to taking some time out now to spend with family but most importantly reflecting to ensure that I can be back next year better for the organisation.”


Lakeside Speedway – MATCH REPORT

The latest from the Lakeside Speedway Press Office…

BRILLIANT Lakeside sent an early season message to their Championship rivals with a convincing 54-35 win over Ipswich at the Arena-Essex Raceway.

A powerful performance ensured the Hammers secured three more Shield points and demonstrated their ability around home shale.

A fine all-around team showing saw Will Pottinger’s side account for 10 race wins with Richard Lawson and Adam Ellis both starring with double figures.

It was an excellent night for the Purfleet outfit – and Pottinger hailed his side for their classy display which gives them plenty of confidence ahead of a league opener at home to Redcar next Friday (8pm).

“We’re really happy,” Pottinger said. “It was a very solid performance from all seven riders. They all put in a good shift, we didn’t have many last places and there was a good mix of points from all areas of the side.

“It’s a convincing win against a well-fancied Ipswich side, so I suppose that bodes well for us heading into the rest of the season.

“It’s always important to win your home matches in every competition. We’ve got another three points and denied the opposition any, so we know if we can go to Ipswich and get a result we’ve got a good chance of progression now.

“We’re more than happy, and we’ve got our first league match at home next week which is a chance for us to build on this good start.”

LAKESIDE 54: Richard Lawson 14, Adam Ellis 12, Nick Morris 8+1, Zach Wajtknecht 7+1, Kyle Newman 5+2, Alfie Bowtell 4+1, Ben Morley 4.

IPSWICH 35: Danny King 12, Connor Mountain 10, Rory Schlein 8+1, Nico Covatti 4, Danyon Hume 1, Michael Hartel 0, Cameron Heeps 0.

Championship Shield points: Lakeside 3 Ipswich 0

Frinton’s Lisa is First #CelebrateEssex Winner

Chris Evans reports…


Grassroots Volunteer Scoops ‘Footie Mum’ Category Win

Frinton & Walton YFC Fixture Secretary Lisa Ursell has paid tribute to the “fantastic team” of volunteers who keep the club going after she became the figurehead winner of the #CelebrateEssex ‘Footie Mum’ category.

#CelebrateEssex, organised through the Essex County FA’s Twitter account @EssexCountyFA, promotes inspirational personal examples and stories, encouraging new faces to get involved and grow the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in March, a select group were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner to receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Lisa won the vote in front of three other strong challengers.

At present Lisa is the club’s Fixture Secretary, which involves booking matches, and she also helps out with the Under 16s where her son has played for the last six years. She does the admin for the team, making sure the players know where the games are and the times of training, and she ensures they have enough players to play each match. Lisa’s responsibilities also extend to helping run their clubhouse at Frinton Park.

One of Lisa’s daughters is enjoying her first season playing for the club’s Under 9s Girls and she additionally tries to organise a rota for their clubhouse to be looked after by volunteers each Sunday. “I felt very proud making the final four… so winning was amazing! It’s great for our club to get the recognition it deserves,” she explained of her award. “I really enjoy it.”

“I’m not going to lie – sometimes it can be hard, but it really is a great club to be a part of. Someone is always on-hand to answer a question or offer support. I’m part of a fantastic team full of people who all give up so much time to make the club what it is. We are currently all working together to organise this year’s Presentation Day. We have a committee of eleven people and 20 managers. Some teams have coaches and parent helpers, too.”

Lisa first got involved with the club in 2015 when her son’s manager left. She offered to help out and ended up taking on the role of the club’s Social Secretary, organising Christmas parties and events for all of their teams like the Christmas Fayre, the quiz night and the club’s presentation day. “We have a group of 20 mums and nans who help out with the clubhouse,” Lisa continued. “Putting the rota together can be quite a challenge.”

“Sometimes, as a lot of our volunteers have children in multiple teams, I try and make sure people don’t miss their own children’s matches. Our Club Chairman, Kim Witmore, has been a massive help with the clubhouse and she is the one making sure it’s fully stocked. She’s one of the first to help in there when our boys have home games. We keep the clubhouse clean and tidy, disposing of rubbish and things like that.”

Lisa opted to reinvest her prize back into the club, and picked some Respect signage as her reward which will promote good practice and excellent behaviour at home matches. She concluded: “Keeping the clubhouse going really is a massive team effort and we couldn’t do it without the support of our dedicated volunteers.”