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Day of destiny awaits in Challenge Cup

16 February, 2017 — By Steve Barnett

Crouch End Rangers’ secretary Declan Taylor and captain Ash Taylor

ANYONE who thinks that Sunday footy is a casual kick-about so that wannabe Premier League stars can work off their hangovers and the stresses of work should pop along to Hackney Marshes this weekend.

There promises to be nothing but silky skills and quality on show when self-proclaimed “underdogs” Crouch End Rangers take on rivals Clerkenwell Old Boys  in the eagerly-awaited final of the Camden Sunday League Challenge Cup, which is proudly sponsored by the CNJ.

Old Boys’ skipper Cashie Chandler and manager Paul Ferguson

Clerkenwell have been installed as favourites to win the coveted trophy, and manager Paul Ferguson has vowed to make the 10.30am kick-off “the spectacle that it deserves to be”.

“The challenge cup is the big one for everyone in this league, it’s our FA Cup,” he said.

“It’s our third season in this competition and having reached the semi-finals in the two previous years, this year we have finally made it.

“It has been a hard season for us, with family tragedies and our team being depleted with injuries. But we are now in full flow and ready to make the cup final the spectacle it deserves to be.

” Paul added that Sunday’s grand showpiece will be a real family affair, revealing how the sad loss of his biggest supporter drove Islington-based side Clerkenwell into the final.

“The final is a day before my father, Stuart’s, 70th birthday,” he said. “He is the club chairman and won the Challenge Cup with Aztec 46 years ago. My dad lost his wife, my mother, in September and it seems like fate that we have reached the final this year.

“Clerkenwell is, quite literally, a real family football club, made up of brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews and cousins.

“This final means everything to us and we will give our all to ensure that the famous trophy is in our hands at that final whistle.”

Crouch End Rangers, however, have other ideas – and know all about upsetting the odds having been crowned unlikely Division One champions last season.

For club secretary Declan Taylor and his players, it’s a chance to put past demons to rest.

“The whole squad is really looking forward to the game and the chance to put things right after last year’s horror show when we got turned over 4-0 in the final,” he said.

“All the boys still talk about it as probably our worst performance ever. We’ve worked hard to get back into the final so we can give a better account of ourselves and hopefully lift a trophy we’ve never won before.

“We know we are right up against it with Clerkenwell Old Boys,” Declan added. “They are the best team in the league with quality all over the pitch.

“But we have no problem with being the underdogs. We were last season when we won the Division One championship and it seems to bring out the best in us.”


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