WEST Kirby Panthers capped off a fantastic season with a tour of some of the greatest clubs in the UK, including Alan Shearer’s old club – Wallsend Boys Club.
Having dominated the Ellesmere Port League all season, the under-11s side went on to win the league outright with a fantastic record of played 16, won 15, lost just one game, with a positive goal difference of +65 and averaging just under five goals per game.
The Panthers, who play at Pensby School and are managed by Simon Reeve, plus coached by John Grieves and Alan Ryder, finished off the season with an open day tournament at Eastham Rangers.
Finishing off the season in style, John Grieves, the Panthers’ Geordie coach, pulled in a few favours and set up a once in a lifetime tour of the North East.
John said: “We wanted to give the lads a great end of season tour for their tremendous efforts this year. As we had not toured before, there was talk of exotic destinations such as Spain, France and Italy – not a chance.
“I was having none of it as I wanted the lads to experience the sights, sounds and friendly reception of the North East – one of the biggest hotbeds of footballing talent in the world.”
Grieves, who is no stranger to high level football having played for South Tyneside at County level, was captain of the most successful non-professional junior side in the world – gaining entry into the Guinness Book of Records in the ’70s with a run of more than 300 successive wins.
He contacted Jarrow AFC, Wallsend Boys Club and Blyth Spartans football club to arrange a series of four games for the tour this summer.
Blyth, who have almost 120 years of football heritage, were happy to play West Kirby, but the Panthers found themselves 3-0 down after 15 minutes before pulling the score back to 3-2 and then having a goal disallowed to make it 3-3.
Unfortunately, Blyth weathered the storm to score a fourth on the break and seal a closely matched game 4-2. Handshakes and pictures all round at the beginning and end as the game was played in a great spirit.
Next up was Jarrow FC. Although they have been only been officially in existence for around 30 years, Jarrow have actually been around for more than 120 years and played Everton in the 1899 FA Cup, losing 3-1 to the Blues. John added: “Guy Reeve captained West Kirby and the game itself was very even as Jarrow passed the ball around the pitch with confidence having previously drawn against Wallsend Boys Club, our next opponents and Alan Shearer's old club, and put five past them in the process.”
Both sides were feeling the effects of the full sized pitch and in front of a large enthusiastic crowd, they managed to produce an exciting and well-fought 0-0 draw.
The last two games were arranged against Wallsend Boys Club, one of the most famous clubs in the UK, boasting strong links with the North East Premiership clubs and an international hall of fame that includes Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Steve Bruce and Michael Carrick. West Kirby matched Wallsend in many areas of the field, but lost 5-0 – the first time in the club’s recent history they had conceded five goals without response.
After an hour’s break, West Kirby were back on the field again lead by Mike Jamieson and taking on the Wallsend Under-10s. The Panthers were held to a 0-0 draw in their first ever 11-a side game.
John said: As West Kirby returned across the M62, spirits were higher than ever after a hard fought and most enjoyable tour and each member of the team gave a little warble into the coach microphone as they sang their way home.”