Robins U14s won the league title in some style this season and recently, as you can see from the pictures, picked up their medals and the U14s Division 1 shield in the North Wilts Youth League end of season presentations. Alongside the pictures, here's a quick overview from manager Trevor Claridge as to how that successful campaign came about.
The U13s (as they were then) had a great campaign last season and played some terrific football but were left with a bitter taste as they fell short of the elusive league title. Tom and I discussed it with the players, analysed where we needed to strengthen and set out over the summer to recruit. Bearing in mind this would also be our first season of playing 11 a side, there was a lot to do across the team in terms of having a large enough squad for 11 a side and plenty of work needed on the training pitch for the challengeds the new format would present. We had a good summer of recruitment, quickly bringing in a couple of strikers, a defender and midfielder and as the season got closer two more followed - another defender and a top goalkeeper and finally just as the season started we made our final signing, a striker to bring the squad to 18 players.
Now it was time to see if all that work on the training pitch was settling in as we started on a run of 5 pre-season friendlies. The early signs were encouraging as we won the friendlies and the lads looked to have adapted to the new format well. The season proper also started well, winning our first 10 games in both cup and league games. But no team can sustain that kind of form indefinitely and some kind of dip was inevitable - a bad couple of weeks saw us knocked out of both cups in the second round, but with any team the issue is not whether you have a couple of reverses, you always will, but how you respond to it. We needn't have worried as the lads responded brilliantly with another unbeaten run of 5 games putting us top of the League!
The trick now was to stay top ... Despite our first home defeat in the League in February, we followed this with 6 more wins to stay top of the pile as we neared the final few weeks. With three games to go we knew we could do it if we won the next two, away to Melksham and Newbury, who were second and close on our heels. A set-back at Melksham as we seemed out of sorts from the outset (pressure of needing the win maybe) and we lost 2-1 in possibly our worst performance of the whole season. So, all now riding on Newbury 3 days later and right from the off the boys were on it. After 10 minutes we led 2-0 against a team that hasn't lost all season and scored a 3rd as half time approached. Newbury weren't going to surrender their undefeated record easily and the second half was a long hard battle but we got across the line, winning 3-1 to put the title in reach. A win against Chippenham at home the following week would seal the title and in the end we won comfortably to earn our title of Champions of Division 1!
Congratulations to all the players (and the coaching team!) from everyone at Robins FC - a lot of hard work has paid off, enjoy the feeling of being top of the tree!