Once again, the near impossible task of relaying the event of 6 July 2003 has fallen upon my poor shoulders, but before I begin the gruelling task of telling you all about the 2003 SKLPC football tournament end because and I can’t think of a witty way to start this years write up, I thought I would mention “Bharat Bhanderi AKA “Beaver” .. although don’t ask me why!!!, and thank him for single handedly, for sorting out the 4 pitches, which I think most of us would agree, were the best pitches most of us had ever played on since samaj tournament moved over to Northolt So from all the committee members and no doubt all the players In this years tournament, a big THANKS for all the effort you and your team put in, very much appreciated.

With the difficult part over, (i.e., the opening paragraph], now onto describing the tournament itself. This year 39 teams entered the Seniors tournament, which although lower than usual was probably due to the fact that each teem could now field an extra player and the large number of weddings/engagements, etc that were going on that day. However, I’m sure that everyone who watched the matches would agree quality definitely made up for the lack of quantity this year.

The organisers decided to spice this years seniors tournament up and changed the format and introduced a knockout stage straight after the first group stage. We think it was successful, but as always look forward to your comments as to how you the players and supporters thought it went.

Due to a prior engagement, a chandlo to be precise [Congratulations to Hitesh AKA George and Tina] I unfortunately missed most of the mornings proceedings. I guess I could lie and pretend I saw the matches, but I think it’s better if I just show you the tables and their final standings, from which the top 2 of each group and the best 4 runners up proceeded to the knockout stages.

Seniors Second Round

As expected the usual suspects moved into the second stages which included; Blue Dragons, last years winners; previous winners. Premier Eurocom and Kingsbury Builders Merchants; last years finalists Baladia “A” and their “B” and “C’ teams, Durga (you’ll need a PhD in Quantum Mathematics to calculate the number of teams we have brought down this year) Timbers; and not forgetting old favourites Bolton and Kera Kundanpur boys. These guys were joined by the Scorpions, surprise winners
of Group 5, the two teams from Woolwich. Harlesden FC and HB Squad.

Now I’ve learnt how to use tables on Word, I thought I would also use my new found skills to list out the second round results. As you can see below there were a number of penalty shootouts this year which I think emphasises the quality and how closely matched Kera the teams were this year.

Some of the games that really stood out second round included the Premier Eurocom game versus Kingsbury Builders Merchants, which probably had everything during normal and extra time except a goal. Even their penalty shootout had spectators on the edge of their seats, when Manesh had thought he’d put Kingsbury into the quarterfinals only to be told by the referee whilst celebrating, that he would have to re-take the penalty as he had taken too many steps in taking his penalty. Unfortunately when Manesh retook his penalty, Jit decided to pull off the save of the tournament and tipped his shot onto the post.

The scores were once level and it was now down to sudden death. Up stepped the Raj end he calmly and slotted his penalty sway. It was now down to Yatin to keep Kingsbury in the tournament. Yatin composed himself, took one look up and smashed the ball too Jits right. Unfortunately for Yatin and Kingsbury it was just a touch too right, as the ball smashed against Jits post and came back out. To Jit and his teams delight this meant that Premier Eurocom had gone….. or had they … a quick glance at the referee to make sure he wasn’t going to ask Yatin to retake the penalty or something … but to Premier’s delight the miss stood and Premier had once again overcome their rivals to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Other games that stood out were the gemes between Kera Kundanpur ” A and Baledia Youth Club C and Kera Kundanpur “B” and Harlesden FC, both of which went right down to the wire and could only be decided the by penalties. Against the odds Kera “B” went through and Kera Kundanpur “A” went out. With the first knockout stage completed it was now for the big boys to show what they were really made of and for me to grab some well-earned lunch before all the bhaji’s and bhel ran out … this leads me on nicely to take the opportunity to thank, on bahalf of the committee Kanji Kerai. Harsmukh Halai and their family for running the food stall and providing the players and fans with the energy to get through what turned out to be a very long and hot day. With everyone refreshed, it was now time for the games to really begin and to separate the boy’s from the men.

By now, the weather had changed from hot to the type of heat we would usually have to pay and fly for 10 hours to see …(double that if you were flying British Airways!l) The heat wes now really getting to the players and how they had the energy to perform at the levels they did was a mystery to everyone watching. From now on, it was literally down to the survival of the fittest. The first quarter-final saw last years winners Team Dragon Blue take on their arch rivals and previous winners Premier Eurocom. The game itself was a highly charged affair with both teams giving it 110% and when I mean it was kicking off, trust me I mean literally. How the game ended with 10 players on the pitch is a mystery to me. The all important opening goal was scored by Premier Eurocom early in the first half. Blue Dragons spent the rest of the half desperately trying to equalise and that left gaps in their defence which Premier Eurocom ware able to capitalise on. They eventually ran off fully deserved 3-0 winners. They had now beaten Kingsbury end Blue Dragons and were red-hot favourites to go on and win the tournament.

The second quarter-final saw Baladia ” A play Kera Kundanpur “B”. As expected the game was a close one, and it took two pieces of magic, from Baladia’s Ajit and Ram to turn the game in their favour. Kera Kundenpur tried to get back on level terms, but it looked as though their group games had taken their toll and Baladia managed to hold on to reach the semi-finals.

The third Quarter Final saw Baladia Youth Club “C’ take on surprise package Scorpions who from nowhere were now only 2 games away from the final. Both teams went for it from the start and neither could be separated in normal or extra time and penalties. Once again penalties would decide who would go through to the semis.

In the penalty shoot out Baladia’s experience shone through and they managed to squeeze through 4-3 to book their place with the A team in the semis. The fourth quarterfinal saw Woolwich All Stars and their fanatical supporters take on the equally well supported Bolton Originals “A”. I don’t know what Bolton “A” had eaten for their breakfast that morning, but whatever it was had worked, and they played the games of their lives. and goals from Alpesh, Manoj [2] and Manny saw them easily overcome Woolwich All Stars 4-0 end book their place into the semis …… Hold up … sorry, I’ve read the wrong scoresheet …. they beat the Woolwich All Stars “B” team 4-0 in the group stages …. they could only beat the “A”team 1-0, thanks to a penalty from Bolton’s Manny.

With all four teams given adequate rest it was now time for the semi finals to begin. The first semi saw Premier Eurocom take on Baladia Youth C and the question everybody was asking was would Baladia be able to cope with the sheer power of Premier Eurocom, who were now playing like a team possessed and destined to regain the crown they had lost to the Dragons two years previously. The answer was “no”. Premier Eurocom completely destroyed Baladia “C’ 5-0, with some quite awesome football to once again reach the final.

The second semi final saw Baladia “A” take onBolton Original ‘A”. Fortunately for the Baladia supporters their “A” team fared a lot better than their “C” team. Even so it was still a close affair with both teams giving it their all, but once again goals from Ajit and Ramji was the difference as Baladia “once again made it to their second seniors final in row. The question was could they finally win the title that eluded them or would they once again choke and fall at the final hurdle?

The team that stood against them was Premier Eurocom, who in the previous games had slowly but surely captured the form that saw them win the senior tournament 3 years wnning. However, Baladia had earned their right to be in the final winning all their group games and getting through the knockout stages without enduring penalty shootouts. The game began as expected with both teams relying on their midfield to create that extra bit of magic to unlock the others defence. However with neither team over committing themselves, it looked like one goal would be enough to decide who won the tournament, but who would score that all important goal was not as clear. As the game went on it became even more evident the team that scored first would have a clear advantage and that is exactly how it penned out It looked like the first half was going to end 0-0, when Premier’s Amit suddenly found himself in space. Although quickly surrounded he somehow managed to squeeze the bell through to Rueben who without a second thought unleashed a fierce shot that beat Nanji in Baladia’s goal. Premier had taken the advantage and although Baladia tried to come beck in the second half. Premier, just as they had in the game with Dragons, exposed gaps that Baladia ware leaving at the back and went on to win the game 4-0.

Once again Premier Eurocom were on top of the tree after an absence of 2 years.

Juniors Tournament

Nine teams entered the Juniors tournament and the plan was to put them into 2 groups. However, one of the teams was disqualified from the onset after a mix up with a players date of birth (come on guys did you really think you’d get away with it!!!(This meant the remaining 8 teams were put into 2 groups, 1 containing 5 teams and the other, only 3! We must congratulate the juniors for the standards they reached this year. In fact, they were so good this year that Phil, a very well known and respected referee and footballer made an announcement to juniors to join him and take their football to another level and train with Premiership standard teams.

Group 1 was won by Baladia Youth club whilst Group 2 was won by Younger Woolwich Boys. They were joined in the semi-finals by Kera Kundanpur B and Bolton SKLPC Juniors. The first semi final saw Baladia Youth Club take on Kera-Kundanpur “B”, with Baladia going through 1-0. Baladia were joined in the finals by Younger Woolwich who overcame a gallant Bolton SKLPC team 2-0. As with the senior’s final, the Junior’s final as a classic game, and went all the way to penalties.

Eventually Younger Woolwich showed that extra bit of class and overcame Baladia Youth Club 4-2. Once again, Baladia were beaten by their “Arch Enemy”, the penalty shoot out. Well done Younger Woolwich overcame the disappointment of losing last years final to win this year’s tournament. Congratulations to Baladia’s Dillian Vekaria who was voted junior player of the tournament.


As always the Samaj committee Samji Harsiani, Manesh Patel, Hasmukh Bhudiya. Sash Mayani, Ashwin Vekaria (& Ashwin’s wife for letting us use I their house for meetings). Ral Madha. Himansu Kerai and Sam Vishram would like to thank all the Teams and supporters who made this years tournament a great success. Also a big thank you to Preatam Karai for taking the time out from his hectic schedule to once again, pen this years football article …. Your cheques in the post! As always a big thanks goes out to Kenny and Ben of Bandev sponsoring this year’s tournament. Finally, well done to Mitan Patel of Blue Dragons who thanks to his 8 goals (in open play) wins the “Gentleman’s Club” trophy as the tournaments leading scorer.

That’s all folks, and the Samaj Football committee. As always look forward to seeing you guys again next year.

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