Magnificent Seven living the dream
23 January, 2017 — By Steve Barnett
FA Cup kings: The boys celebrate after beating Yeovil Town
EVERY football fan will tell you that the FA Cup is all about the giant killings – the David versus Goliath battles, in which the little, often unknown underdogs, come out with a glorious victory.
Well meet, arguably, one of the biggest underdogs of them all – Broxbourne Borough FC. They might be small, but the club’s Under-18s side have plenty of bite, and have etched their name in footballing folklore by reaching the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup.
Where the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have failed to survive, Broxbourne have thrived. And now their ongoing cup fairytale takes them to Birmingham next month to face Championship side Aston Villa at Villa Park.
It’s a success story that should be gripping supporters all across the country, especially our readers. That’s because at the heart of Broxbourne’s 20-man squad are seven players who grew up in either Camden or Islington. Goalkeeper Brandon Walsh, defenders Nicky Moir, Frankie Chandler and James Kelly and midfielders Jack Price, Lewis Dickinson and Dylan Bollister all took their first footballing steps playing in the local leagues for the likes of Angel Islington, Isledon Wolves, Islington Admiral and ‘A’ Class. Manager Roy Bleau, who has coached the team for over nine years since they were Under-10s, also knows what it’s like playing on the infamous artificial pitches at Market Road, having represented Crown and Manor in the Camden and Islington Youth League when he was a kid.
“We have seven players from Camden or Islington, and five from Hackney. So when they all turn up to training, that’s more than half of our squad right there,” said Roy. “When it comes to having boys from the same areas, and who all know each other, it’s coincidence and it’s not coincidence – if you know what I mean.
“Players turn up to trials and ask if they can bring their friends, and more often than not, they’re boys who they have played with at other clubs, or have played with for their district and county teams. “Obviously, any players we sign still have to be good enough, and merit their place in the team.”
The ninth-tier club have beaten National League sides Concord Rangers, Boreham Wood FC and Chester on their way to the last 16. In their last game, they netted their biggest scalp yet when they beat Division Two side Yeovil Town 1-0 at their Goffs Lane ground in Hertfordshire, thanks to a goal from Alie Bangura.
“It was a fantastic result, the stuff that dreams are made of,” said Roy, who runs the team alongside assistant coach Jamie Crouch. “More than 1,000 fans packed into our ground to cheer us on.
“We’re under no illusions, we all know that Aston Villa will be a massive challenge. But it’s 11 versus 11 and anything can happen.
“Nobody would have thought we could have beaten the teams that we already have, so why can’t we do it again?
“The boys are all really excited and hungry. We just can’t wait for the game.”
• Broxbourne Borough FC face Aston Villa at Villa Park in the FA Youth Cup on Saturday, February 4, at 11am. There will be coaches leaving from Goffs Lane. For details email: email@example.com