Hellesdon ‘invincibles’ so glad they stuck together

Hellesdon Under-19s have won the Norwich and DistrictUnder-19 Development League.

Hellesdon Under-19s have won the Norwich and DistrictUnder-19 Development League. - Credit: Submitted

Sixteen games, 16 wins, 77 goals scored and 19 conceded – that is this season's record for the champions of the Norwich and District Under-19 Development League, Hellesdon.

The 'invincibles' of the division have already wrapped up their title with an 100pc record, sweeping all before them in the league this season.

It is a team which was formed 10 years ago and – managed by Martin Chadwick, development coach of Hellesdon Youth FC – it still has four players from its original 2004 squad.

'The season started with nine football teams in our league and nobody bar two others had ever played each other before in youth football,' Chadwick explained. 'So everyone was going into uncharted territory which, in fairness, was quite an exciting prospect.

'Then we went on an amazing run of games winning our first three, then four and so on. Before Christmas we were still unbeaten having played all in our league once. It gave us a strong belief that we could actually win this!

'I have to stress the importance of the team. I had a squad of over 20 players, all of whom were happy to miss out some weeks and be substitutes from time to time without a single issue. For that I thank the lads for making managing the team much easier.'

Sam Chadwick, Jack Richardson, Alex Clements and Charlie Clarke are the remaining players from the 2004 squad and have enjoyed plenty of success over the years.

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Chadwick continued: 'We have always as a team maintained a good standard of football, remaining in the top divisions throughout the years winning the league at under-nines and the league cup at under-10s. After the early years I maintained a loyal set of players who wanted to compete but above all enjoy their football. We were never a team that constantly looked for more players providing those with us were happy to stay. So we went through youth football as a team always striving to improve.

'There were plenty of people who helped me through the years as assistants, Mark Clements and Andy Bush who both gave plenty of years service, and in recent years Paul Richardson and Neil Chatten have been a massive support.'

The Hellesdon lads finished their season in suitable fashion the weekend before last, winning 6-0 at Taverham. That was not their biggest win of the season though.

An 11-1 win at home against Coltishall Jaguars in October was their biggest victory, followed closely by a 9-0 win at Salhouse Rovers Youth.

'The boys decided they wanted to stick together after youth football had effectively finished,' Chadwick explained.

'We were in two minds at the beginning because some did not want to go straight into adult football. It was when the Norfolk FA introduced a new concept of an Under-19 Development League, where it allowed three over-age players to play, that we decided to give it a go.

'We were able to add a few experienced older players to the squad and it made us the team we are today. However, I did not expect the success we have enjoyed this season at all and I know the boys did not either.'

Coltishall were determined not to be thrashed by Hellesdon again when the champions elect arrived at their ground looking to wrap up the title at the end of January.

The bottom-of-the-table side gave Hellesdon a big scare but the title was wrapped up with a 5-4 victory, to allow the celebrations to begin.

Top scorer Robert Warminger took his goal tally for the season to 15 with a goal in the team's final two games, with Charlie Clarke and James Goodwin close behind with 11 goals apiece.

Chadwick added: 'There are many players worth mentioning but the key to our success has been the teamwork and willingness to learn.

'Plus they are a bunch of good players who deserve all the plaudits for achieving such an amazing consistent run of games. We can now call them the invincibles!'