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Champions!
Written by Mike Madden   
Sunday, 08 May 2016 13:43

The titanic struggle for championship glory was finally laid to rest as Whaley Bridge Under 17s welcomed Stockport Vikings Warriors to their Park Road ground.

The last minute penalty conceded at Marple at the end of March was long since forgotten, as Whaley Bridge knew that victory here, or even a draw, would see them crowned as outright champions. Although Whaley were unbeaten since October, Vikings were also on a good run, and they had plenty of incentive to put in a good performance. The opening salvos were reminiscent of a heavyweight boxing match, with both sides posturing, probing, without any real damage. Whaley had the better possession, Stockport created the better chances, but the first half drifted to a goalless close. The manager was clear. There were 45 minutes to go in the game, 45 minutes to go in the season. Dont leave anything out there. The players responded and suddenly the Vikings goal was like a coconut shy. Shots came  from everywhere, but few troubled the keeper until Zain Saeed tried his luck from 40 yards and struck the crossbar. Ash Blackham was again commanding in the Whaley goal, but the home side still needed the security of a lead. With 15 minutes to go Ethan Williams was sent on up front. He received the ball mid way inside the Stockport half, measured his shot and then struck an absolute gem of a goal. The tension was relieved as Whaley started passing the ball. They were constructing a tapestry across the pitch, a tapestry that would tell the tale of victory. Stockport came forward, but in reality the stuffing had been knocked out of them. Manager Ben Williams looked at his metaphorical watch, he had left his real one at home. 7 minutes, then 6, 5 and up to 6 again. His mind was playing tricks, or was it the referee? Jack Howell had had few chances, but he saw an opening and played in Williams. The winger turned centre forward found the keeper closing him down rapidly, so he calmly laid it off to Alfie Hodges. Hodges gave the defence a glare. He froze them with one look, and then slotted into the bottom corner. The final five minutes were surprisingly relaxed, and when the whistle blew Whaley found themselves at the summit, looking down at Inter Cheadle, Marple and Hollingworth, and peering further back into the valley where Stockport Vikings, Athletico Macclesfield, Signol, Queensgate and Poynton could only dream. Ben Williams has managed the team his way for ten years. Certainly we have picked up players along the way, but it is essentially a Whaley Bridge team and carries the essence of our village. New players have adopted that essence, and been adopted by their peers. No team can surely have deserved a championship more, and they will revel in it until accepting a new challenge next season.

 
 
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