The WKH Developments Buntingford Cougars five a side tournament last week was the  biggest ever for the North Hertfordshire based charter standard club as 180 teams descended on The Bury for four days of football over two weekends.

The tournament was started in the mid 70’s and is looking forward to its fortieth anniversary next year. Some teams competed this year who have been loyal visitors to Cougars tournament although some were debutants at Buntingford’s tournament after hearing of it’s success in previous years.

Cougars U7's dazzle in day one sunshine
Cougars U7’s dazzle in day one sunshine


Buntingord Cougars Chairman and Tournament Organiser Richard Daly said “It was great to welcome back the familiar clubs like Fairlands, Knebworth and Hormead but equally exciting to see new clubs like Wixam Wanderers from Bedfordshire, Newhall Rangers from Harlow and Over Sports from Cambridgeshire.

The victorious Under15's end a great campaign with a home tournament win
The victorious Under15’s end a great campaign with a home tournament win

The Cougars tournament is considered to be one of the biggest and well organised tournament in the county and that is down to a successful model that has worked in recent years. Teams can enter via an online booking process, the whole tournament is online with league tables and results updated within minutes of each match finishing and supporters are able to see exactly where they stand on their smartphones and tablets or even from home on their laptops and PCs. That online element is unique to the Buntingford tournament and something that gives it a real tournament feel.


Cougars U9s suffered penalty shootout heart break
Cougars U9s suffered penalty shootout heart break

Daly went onto say “we try to create a competitive but friendly atmosphere for our tournament and I feel we have got the balance just right. Despite welcoming somewhere between three and four thousand people over the four days the issues are few and far between.” The Cougars Chairman puts much of that down to the quality of referees. Cougars use qualified referees for all matches; many of them are younger than eighteen and still playing for Cougars having taken advantage of the club’s scheme to help fund their referee courses with Herts FA. Daly said “We use the less experienced guys in our youngest age groups and always put a newly qualified referee with a more experienced one which gives them the opportunity to mentor and advise the younger Officials.


Buntingford's U13's Battling
Buntingford’s U13’s Battling

Each day also saw lots going on off the pitch as there was The Bury licensed bar, a BBQ, a football shot speedometer, face painting, a sweet and ice cream stall and a new piece of training equipment was on show called quick feet. For the second year running local photography company PicturePerferctPhotography4U was the official tournament photographers and got some great shots which parents could buy on the day or online afterwards.


Cougars U13s Winners in 2015
Cougars U13s Winners in 2015

The tournament is the biggest fundraising event in the Cougars calendar as well as being costly to run. The Cougars Chairman estimates that the tournament costs over £3,000 to stage with ambulance attendance, referees, trophies and programme printing being the biggest costs. He went onto say “It is a costly event which is why it is crucial that the club come together to minimise further costs. We are lucky to have some great volunteers who’s help keep costs down, we had a main sponsor with WKH Developments, advertisers in the programme and the various activities, all of that contributes to keeping the costs manageable.

Cougars U10's celebrate a stunning strike
Cougars U10’s celebrate a stunning strike

As the reputation of the tournament grows it becomes more popular and this year was no different with most age groups being full up before the end of March. Richard Daly suggests this is because of the organisation “the feedback we get from clubs is that they like the focus we put on organisation and timings. I have been to tournaments myself where matches get behind time and it can be frustrating, we focus a lot on keeping to time and teams like that, that swhy they come back year after year. It’s also why we now attract some of the best clubs and scouts from professional clubs and this year was no different with scouts from Tottenham, Stevenage FC, Cambridge United and Norwich City all talent spotting.”

Cougars U7s set the standard on day1 by reaching the final
Cougars U7s set the standard on day1 by reaching the final

Many youngsters got their first taste of a match as they played in the fun Under6’s festival where there were no scores or tables and every player received a medal. Twenty four teams played from Bedwell Rangers, Buntingford Cougars, Comets FC, Elsenham, Frontiers, Newhall Rangers, Wixams Wanderers, Bishop Stortford, Crawley Green, Fairlands, Hatfield Youth, Morden Magpies, St Joseph’s, Ware Lions, Ware Youth.

Under6's - they're lovin' it
Under6’s – they’re lovin’ it

In the Under7’s groups Cougars entertained eighteen teams from Buntingford Cougars, Crawley Green, Elsenham, Frontiers, Knebworth, Lea Sports, Ware Lions, Stevenage Boro, Wheathampstead Wanderers, Wixams Wanderers and in close fought final Stevenage Boro Juniors beat Buntingford Cougars two – one.

Under6's enjoying their first festival
Under6’s enjoying their first festival

The Under8’s section saw eighteen teams arrive from Bengeo Tigers, Broadhall, Buntingford Cougars, Chipperfield Corinthians, Elsenham, Hatfield Youth, Hormead Hares, Knebworth, Hertford Town, Ware Lions and Ware Youth and the final which went to extra time saw Chipperfield Corinthians triumph one nil over Knebworth.

Cougars U6's entertain Bedwell
Cougars U6’s entertain Bedwell

The Under9’s attracted eighteen teams from Biggleswade Utd, Buntingford Cougars, Elsenham, Hormead Hares, Manuden, Royston Town, Ware Lions and Wheathampstead Wanderers and the final was a close affair in which local club Hormead Hares were crowned winners after narrowly beating Wheathampstead Wanderers.

Cougars U12's in the sunshine on Day4
Cougars U12’s in the sunshine on Day4

In the Under10’s groups eighteen teams competed from Ashwell Academicals, Baldock Town, Buntingford Cougars, ESS, Flitwick Eagles, Hatfield Youth, Knebworth, Melbourn Dynamos, Waltham Abbey, Ware Lions, Whitethorn Wanderers and Wormley Rovers. Whitethorn managed to get both teams in teh final, their Reds overcoming their Blacks by two goals to one.

Twenty four Under11’s teams arrived at The Bury from Baldock Town, Buntingford Cougars, Fairlands, Harlow, Ware Youth, Hertford Town, Knebworth, Pin Green Juniors, Ware Lions, Ware Youth, Wheathampstead Wanderers and Wormley Rovers. It was an all Whheathampstead final as the Tigers took on the Sharks, the latter winning two nil to take back the cup title that they had won two years earlier.

The under12’s section also had twenty four teams competing from Bishop Stortford, BSFC, Buntingford Cougars, Crawley Green, Elsenham, Hormead Hares, Over Sports Colts, Parsloe Athletic, Royston Town, Sawbridgeworth, Wodson Park and Wormley Rovers. In what was the most thrilling final Royston Swifts took on Wormley Rovers and each traded goals throughout the match and through extra time to finish four all. The nail biting penalty shootout was won by Wormley Rovers.

The under13’s section saw a home victory for Cougars for the first time in two years as Richard Thorpe’s side won out over twelve teams from Ampthill Town, Ashwell Academicals, Buntingford Cougars, Crawley Green, ESS and Shenley. In a tense final the hosts beat Ampthill by a single goal.

The Under14s section was enjoyed by teams from Buntingford Cougars, Elsenham, Fairlands, FC Comets, Ware Lions and Wormley Youth and saw Elsenham dominate Wormley in the final and win the cup with a five-one victory.

The Under15’s is the oldest age group for the Cougars tournament so it was fitting to see Buntingford win the Under15’s Cup with the players competing in their last tournament. Chris Adams’ Cougars side was joined in the twelve strong Under15’s section by teams from Arseley Town, Bishop Stortford, Broxbourne Borough, Elsenham and FC Comets.


From Dean – Stevenage Boro U7s . . . .

I wanted to say a huge thank you to you & your club for hosting a fine tournament on Saturday & for inviting us in at the last minute. I can honestly say I can’t remember attending a better organised & well run tournament in my duties as a coach & scout! I have been involved in mini soccer for 13 years now & have attended well over 100 festivals/tournaments. I attended over 20 tournaments last summer alone in my roles as a coach & scout. None were as fun & well run as yours Saturday….

As well as the organisation, as mentioned above, everything about the day was superb the refereeing, the food, the opposition players/coaches behaviour & much more…… It had a great atmosphere & of course the trophies & cup were the icing on the cake. They too were brilliant, really nice looking awards.

Thanks again Richard & best of of luck for the coming weekends football.

From Jim – Broxbourne Borough U15s . . . .

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and thank you for today but I had to shoot off to the FA cup final with my boy. I just want to say thanks for a great day and to commend you on a well organised day. I’m over the moon we got knocked out by yourselves and know it will be a bit of comfort for Chris grrr! Many thanks

From Neil – Bedwell Rangers U6s . . . .

Just a quick email to thanks for today. This was our first Tournament as a team and I know all our boys really enjoyed it. Thanks again.

From Bruce – Baldock U10s . . . .

Just thought i would drop you a line on behalf of the Baldock U10 team to thank you for organizing a great event yesterday. You must have put in many hours of hard work – and as a result our players and parents had a great time, despite the weather. Excellent tournament played in a good spirit. A final word about your referees – i thought they did a great job. We’ll be back next year I hope!

From Kevin – Ware Youth U6s . . . .

Just wanted to say thanks for a well run tournament for the under 6s yesterday afternoon, all of our parents and players had a great time. It was the first time I’ve attended but I know for a lot of the coaches at Ware Youth it’s the one tournament they don’t want to miss. Will definitely try to get back next year with my u7s and u13s.

From Elliott – Wixam Wanderers U6s

Thank you for a fantastic tournament! My lads had a great time yesterday despite the weather!! Really enjoyed the day. Excellent tournament. The other teams which I entered really enjoyed it too. Look forward to entering next year when competitive.

From Eshmale – Bedwell Rangers

Thanks. The best well run tournament I have been to in a long while, credit to the club organisers for a polished and flawless event.

From Michael Taylor – Wixam Wanderers U7s Girls

Brilliant tournament day out and the girls team (my team) wixams wanderers really enjoyed it. Thanks to all at Buntingford Cougars. Will definitely see us next year.

From Cheryl Geary – Fairlands U6’s

Thank u for a great tournament from under 6s Fairlands xx

From Kevin McGlynn – Royston Under12’s

I would like to pass on thanks to everyone connected to the tournament, what a great day, well organized, very friendly, great football, youth football as it should be a credit to your club, many thanks.

Neil Sullivan @NeilSullivan7 – Fairlands Youth

@BuntCougars great day out at tournament yesterday, well run & friendly people & staff, cheers from everyone at Fairlands Youth

Luke Shipp @LukeShipp2

Fantastic tournament here at buntingford today! Well done to all at @BuntCougars

ESSFA @elite_skill

Great tournament today @BuntCougars all age groups really enjoyed it ! Thank you for being so well organised. #ess

Darren @ww_darren – Whitethorn Wanderers

@BuntCougars @Whitethorn_Wdrs its always a pleasure to play at your tournament its the best in Herts great standard and well organised

Ken Headington @Kenmh58 – Bedwell Rangers

@BuntCougars u6s had a great time this morning


Press Release Contact Richard Daly 07944 237400

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