Buntingford Cougars hosted their annual five a side youth tournament welcoming 164 teams from Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, London, Middlesex, Bedfordshire and Essex and for the first time entertained an overseas team as German club FC Grossalmerode entered two teams.
The tournament is a festival format for the Under 6’s who enjoy playing matches although no results or league table is recorded. The other age groups is a tournament format where leading teams in their groups qualified for a knockout stage leading to a final. It was the first year ever that the FA allow a tournament format for Under 7s and 8s and the children enjoyed it.
The tournament is over four days and two weekends and staged at The Bury in Buntingford. It is one of Hertfordshire’s most respected tournaments and one that is well established. It started originally in 1975 and has stood the test of time despite many tournaments now being staged by dozens of clubs throughout the county.
Cougars Chairman and Organiser Richard Daly said “Our tournament is very popular because the 5 a side format is one that people like to play and when you combine that with the fact that we are lucky enough to have a facility that lends itself to a tournament layout and we have a great team behind the scenes running it then it all makes for a great day out for the children coming to play, their parents and supporters as well as the Coaches and Managers leading the teams.”
This year the tournament was the biggest ever with 164 teams and an estimated 4,000 people arriving over the four days. There are 416 matches that take place involving about 1,300 players and over 70 hours of football in which 1,081 goals were scored.
The tournament is a regular jaunt for many clubs including Wormley Rovers who won both the Under 11’s and Under 13’s sections. Wormley’s Gary Merson (brother of ex Arsenal and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson) said “I Manage the Wormley Under 11’s Reds. We Won the Tournament and all had a fantastic day. We have played in about 10 Tournaments in the last 3 years and this has been the best one we have played in. The Organisation was spot on and everything went very smoothly.”
The tournament is recognised on being one of the biggest and well organised football events in the county, due to it’s size it now attracts some Scouts from leading clubs and this year was no different with scouts from Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City taking a look at the players.
The event though is not all about elite players and teams. Buntingford Cougars recognise sportsmanship and effort too with the Carl Couzens Shield awarded to the Cougars team that demonstrates high levels of sportsmanship in memory of a tournament referee that died just before the tournament in 2008 and the Cookie Shield in memory of lifelong Cougars supporter John Cook that rewards hard work and effort.
This year the tournament’s results, fixtures and tables were all managed online enabling supporters, players and Coaches to see results and tables immediately online and cutting down on the need for printing and paper. This was a real success with Cheshunt Youth FC’s Kevin Bell commenting “The live score update was absolutely fantastic and created a real tournament feel.”
The well attended event also enables Cougars to support local organisations and people and this year was no exception as new Buntingford photographers Picture Perfect Photography 4U were used as the tournament photographers, The Art of Sport displayed their sport art drawn by local artist Paul Vater and Emma Calder a 6th Form student at Freman College in Buntingford contributed to the press release.
On day one the Under 7’s, 8’s and 9’s competed with the U7’s Cup being won by Elsenham, the U8’s section won by Letchworth Whites and Cheshunt Yellows running out winners of the Under9’s trophy.
Day two saw the Under6’s play short ten minute matches in what was the first taste of organised football for some of the children. All of the Under6’s were awarded medals. Also on day two the Under 10’s competition was won by Whathampstead Wanderers and the U11’s cup was held aloft by Wormley Rovers.
On the third day Whitewebbs Eagles overcame hosts Buntingford in the final in the Under12’s Cup whilst Wormley Rovers secured their second cup win up the A 10 in the Under 13’s section.
On the final day in the Under 14’s competition Whitethorn Wanderers were victors and Langford Reds won out in the Under 15s (a full list of qualifiers, finalists and winners per age group is listed below):
Under6’s was a festival format with no results and medals for all players from these teams; Buntingford Cougars Blues, NC Football, Cheshunt Blacks, Buntingford Cougars Whites, Panshanger, Cheshunt Yellows, Buntingford Cougars Stripes, Morden Magpies, Bengeo Tigers, Buntingford Cougars Royals, Elsenham Youth, Bengeo Sabres.
Under 7’s; Cheshunt Yellows, Elsenham, Cheshunt Blacks, Morden Magpies Reds, Royston Town Crows, Melbourn Dynamos, Ware Youth, East Herts. The cup final was a 1-1 draw (aet) before Ware Youth beat Elsenham on penalties.
Under 8’s; Letchworth GCE Whites, Royston Town Crows, Morden Magpies, Melbourn Dynamos, Wheathampstead Wanderers Tigers, Buntingford Cougars Blues, Wheathampstead Wanderers Sharks. Letchworth GCE Blacks. In the cup final Letchworth GCE Whites beat Wheathamstead Wanderers Sharks 5-1.
Under 9’s; Symonds Green, Wormley Rovers, Stotfold Ambers, LAFA FC, Cheshunt Yellows, Stotfold Blacks, Hormead Hares Oranges and Hormead Hares Blacks. In the cup final Cheshunt Yellows beat LAFA FC 3-1.
Under 10’s; Cuffley Blues, Wodson Park, Morden Magpies reds, Broadhall, Wheathampstead Wanderers, Ware Youth Clarets, Alconbury Colts, Wormley Rovers. In the cup final Wheathampstead Wanderers beat Cuffley Blues 1-0.
Under 11’s; Hormead Hares Oranges, Bushmead Rovers Reds, Bishop Stortford Blues, Sawbridgeworth Town Reds, Bushmead Rovers Blues, Wormley Rovers, Alconbury Colts, Hormead Hares Blacks. In the cup final Wormley Rovers beat Alconbury Colts 3 -1.
Under 12’s; Ashwell Storms. Hertford Town, Bishop Stortford Town, St Margaretsbury Reds, Whitewebbs Eagles, Buntingford Royals, Buntingford Blues. Southbury. In the cup final Whitewebbs Eagles beat Buntingford Cougars Blues 3-2.
Under 13’s Wormley Rovers, Broadhall Blacks, Elsenham Greens, Fairlands Yellows, Royston Town Reds, Royston Town Whites, Melbourn Dynamoes, Elsenham Oranges. In the final Wormley Rovers beat Royston Town Reds 3-1.
Under 14’s; Buntingford Cougars Blues, Whitethorn Wanderers Reds, Baldock Town Whites, FC Comets Sharks, Arseley Town Yellows, Arseley Town Blues, Bishop Stortford Blues, FC Comets Stingrays. In the cup final Whitethorn Wanderers Reds beat Bishop Stortford Blues 4-3.
Under 15’s; Potton Colts, FC Comets Reds, Baldock Town Crusaders, Baldock Town Lancers, Langford Reds, Hitchin Town Yellows, Bishop Stortford Swift Reds, Langford Blues. In the cup final Langford Reds beat FC Comets Reds 2-0.