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Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments: First XI and U15 ISFA Cup Double

Over the next term, HSC will be attempting to discover the identity of Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moment, with your help. This article recounts the First XI and U15 A teams’ ISFA Cup wins in 2012 – no other school has ever won both trophies in the same year. This will compete against three other moments in Group Two. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!

Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments Group Two: First XI and U15 ISFA Cup Double

Football may well be the most competitive school sport in the country: played by hundreds of educational establishments, often with fleets of academy players in their squad, it is thought that winning either of the two national tournaments (ISFA Cup or ESFA Cup) is one of the greatest athletic achievements a school can muster.

Within the ISFA Cup, the two pivotal trophies are the U18 Cup and the U15 Cup, with suitable competitions for those lower down the age-groups too. Both are remarkably hard to win: at U18 level, many schools devote professional standards and arduous training schedules to their First XI; the U15 competition is often dominated by academy players.

Winning one of the trophies is hard enough: despite its reputation as one of the elite footballing schools in the country, Hampton have only won the U18 Cup three times (1999, 2007 and 2012). Winning the U18 and U15 in the same year? That’s unheard of.

Or so it was before the 2011/12 season, where Hampton made history and became the first school to ever win the ISFA U18 and U15 Cup tournaments in the same year.

Heading into the season, the First XI were confident of their chances: star midfielder Alex Zubaidi noted in the Hampton Sports Chronicle at the time that “if we play to our full potential, no team will be able to handle us”.

He was certainly right. Over the course of a thrilling cup-run, including a pulsating win on penalties against Charterhouse, as well as victory over Repton in the quarter-final, Hampton proved too good to cope with on multiple occasions.

This was on show too in the final against Millfield, where Hampton’s arch nemesis were cut apart with precision as the First XI ran riot. Goalkeeper Will Legg was in fine form, maintaining his clean sheet throughout the first-half, allowing Hampton to take the lead through Charlie Gerson’s opener.

Hampton were able to withstand intense Millfield pressure early in the second-half, and extended their lead to two goals through Dec Ryan’s deflected strike. Millfield pulled one back, but the First XI did enough to hold on and win 2-1 in front of cacophonous travelling support, in the process becoming the first school to win the ISFA U18 Cup three times.

Some achievement indeed, but Hampton’s record-breaking exploits were not yet done for the season.

The U15As had also put together an admirable cup run under the capable stewardship of Mr Kevin Knibbs and Ms Aileen Schroeder. After tense extra-time victories over Alleyn’s and Bradfield on the way to the final, the team travelled to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium to take on Bolton with the support of hundreds of Hamptonians, as is school tradition for national finals.

It was a nerve-wracking affair, but Hampton scored in the first half to take a lead into the changing rooms. Their defensive tactics after the interval backfired, though, and Bolton equalised in the second half, forcing extra time.

But the U15s were used to the stress of an extra period of play, and took the game to penalties, where they held their nerve to win 4-2, making Hampton the first school to win both competitions in the same year.

Amid the intense competition of the ISFA Cup, winning both flagship tournaments in the same year is some achievement – especially when the U18s’ victory makes the school the most successful in ISFA competition ever – and may well never be matched for as long as the contest continues.

Josh Bartholomew, Hampton Sports Chronicle Editor

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