Wadd’ A Win!!
“This year has been a very special year for the Station Football team and for all those connected to the Club. A semi-final place in the RAF FA Cup and winning the Lincs Services Association Football League (LSAFL) Division 1 cup. With all the difficulties experienced by the Club management team with many players deploying at very short notice, I can only add my thanks to Sergeant George Cassey, Sergeant Gareth Stone, Staff Sergeant Steve Burton, Corporal Neil Gardener, Sergeant Ash Naylor and to all the players for their magnificent efforts. Other stns are now becoming aware of what we already knew at Waddington, that it is very difficult to organise and maintain station sports during periods of high intensity ops; it is a mark of the management team and the Club in general, that we have maintained our interest in the League, the LSAFL League Cup and the RAF Cup. To all at the football Club – WELL DONE!. Please see below a report of the LSAFL League Cup final by Senior Aircraftman Stephen Von Bargen.”
Squadron Leader Wooldson
Officer in Charge
Station Football Team
Wednesday 20th April saw the triumphant RAF Waddington squad bring home victory, beating local, competitive rivals RAF Coningsby 2-1, in a close call battle to win the Lincolnshire League Cup.
In the lead up to the prestigious final, we faced the talent of RAF Kirton Lindsey and won with another 2-1 victory. Next, we travelled away for the semi-final contest against the 16th Regiment Royal Artillery. This was a convincing victory of 2-0, giving us the confidence to face the successful Coningsby side in the final.
On the day of the match, we prepared for the task ahead with an adrenalin packed training session with Corporal Neil Gardener of (E3DSST) leading us through our set pieces. At one o’clock the coach set off for Stamford Football Club. Nerves were high as we were well aware of how strong a side Coningsby are and knew that victory would not be easy.
Sergeant Ian Brown (5(AC) Squadron) captained the side that consisted of 18 players from various ranks and squadrons from Waddington. Our management team on the day consisted of Staff Sergeant Steve Burton (AWC) and Corporal Neil Gardener who between them boosted our confidence and inspired our win with a rousing pep talk prior to the big kick off.
Fortune shone down on us, as Waddington won the toss and kicked off on the floodlit ground, at 6pm. Within five minutes an ardent SAC Karl Stinchcomb (8 Squadron) gained possession. He proceeded to soar past two challenging players effortlessly resulting in a magnificent shot, 35 yards out that flew beautifully into the top corner of the goal leaving Coningsby stunned.
The game continued in a similar Waddington dominated manner as we retained possession and conquered the early minutes. Coningsbys’ full backs struggled to contain the unrelenting advances from wingers, Senior Aircraftsman Dewi Ewers (Logistics Squadron) and Corporal Steve Norton (Fire Section), causing them countless problems and creating numerous opportunities on goal.
Mid way through the first half, a strong challenge on Steve Norton resulted in a penalty. With a chance to double our lead early on, I stepped up bravely, to the dismay of the usual penalty taker, Senior Aircraftman Matthew Hollis (8 Squadron)! After practicing penalties in our morning training session, I felt relatively confident. I aimed bottom left, but the goalkeeper had obviously had his Weetabix that morning and leapt, like a ninja cat, across the goal pushing what should have been an unstoppable shot magically around his post! I think we can all safely say Matty will be taking the penalties next year!
Coningsby’s game improved and the ten minutes that followed saw them finding their stride and maintaining possession. However, a blistering break down the right hand side from Dewi Ewers resulted in a stunning cross which was poorly dealt with by the Coningsby’s defence and striker, Senior Aircraftsman Jack Walsh (Fire Section) took advantage and tapped the ball home from 6 yards.
Coningsby were trying desperately to turn their fortune around and get a hold of the game. But our resilient and unbreakable defence were thwarting any attempts. But with half time looming only five minutes away, a break came and fell to a Coningsby midfielder on the edge of the box. He unleashed a formidable strike from the edge of the box, which would have left even the most elite of goalkeepers, such as our ex-pro Neil Gardener, powerless to save! With a 2-1 lead we still met half time with optimism and confidence.
Following the half time team talk led by the coaches, we were raring to continue our lead and secure our win. Although not one sided, possession was controlled by Coningsby who were trying to get themselves back into the game, but our resilient defence quashed their attempts.
After a tireless and unstinting 75 minutes of a first class performance from man of the match Karl Stinchcomb, he was substituted for Corporal Joe Lasley (AWC) along with Senior Aircraftsman Steve Baker (8 Squadron) replacing Dewi Ewers. We worked tirelessly to prevent Coningsby’s desperate attempts at equalising, however eventually; Coningsby’s striker slipped through our defence’s clutches, culminating in a one on one opportunity, fortunately the skill and pace of the striker could not get past the fast reactions of our keeper, Senior Aircraftsman Mike Barton (AWC), as he blocked the advance.
With the trophy in sight, both teams battled to the finish, throwing all their effort and energy into the tense, final minutes. As the whistle blew, we celebrated a solid and impressive squad performance to win the Lincolnshire League Cup.
Massive thanks has to go out to Sergeant George Casey (51 Squadron), Staff Sergeant Steve Burton and Corporal Neil Gardener, not only for supporting our final performance, but for all the trials, tribulations and organisation of creating, managing and co-ordinating the team’s efforts throughout the season. Their dedication and knowledge has not gone unnoticed and is hugely appreciated by all involved.