By Sorba Thomas, Ben Goodliffe and Fred Burbidge
Wednesday 14th December
5PM We arrive at St Georges Park, which is the training hub of English football near Burton. We’re met by our England College Manager Simon East, the managers coaching staff and our 15 teammates, which includes players as far a field as Hartlepool down to Brighton & Hove Albion.
There are a few familiar faces that we recognise from the trial process, so we all say our quick hello’s then collect our kit and set off to find our rooms. We’re in an amazing hotel which is based within the grounds of St Georges park, (We’re very grateful).
6PM After familiarising ourselves with our room, we go back down and meet up with the squad again. It’s a sort of team bonding session with all the coaches and squad. This is again headed up by our England College Manager Simon East. We are given an exercise to write down what we expected from each other as a group, and to include our expectations, and our values. (it’s a worthwhile and thought provoking exercise).
7:30PM We were by now pretty hungry and thank goodness help was on hand, when we all sat down for a team meal and tried to get to know each other a little more. For most of us, we all had only ever met at the two previous England College trials. We all then decided to watch the football on the TV, which we did together in one room.
11:30PM Curfew time and we’re off to bed to prepare for the big day tomorrow
3:45AM We were all suddenly woken up by the hotel fire alarm going off, so much for match preparation!!! We had to evacuate the building and, when the commotion was over we went back to our rooms and finally get some uninterrupted shut eye.
Thursday 15th december
8:30AM, Down for breakfast, the three of us from Boreham Wood, as you can imagine all went for the healthy option of fruit along with beans on toast. As we tucked into our breakfast the new England Manager Mr Gareth Southgate came in, so we got a chance to get our picture taken with him. He was a very friendly and patient guy and posed for pictures with the whole squad. We then had to pack to leave and get ready for our game that day, England Colleges v England Schools.
11AM We head down to reception to start the walk across the venue at St George’s, it’s a fantastic indoor 4G pitch, where the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jordan Henderson train when on England duty.
11:30AM We arrive and all go upstairs to have a chat with the physios and coaching staff on what they expect from us.
12PM In the changing room, we are told the England College starting 11 and we go through tactics, set pieces, and pattern of play. We do our warm up and came back in for final prep before we line up in our England kit (it’s a proud moment).
We are very proud to represent our club and to receive international recognition for the game we all love. We then spot our BWFC first team assistant manager Jason Goodliffe, who has travelled up and is casting his eye over us (hope we don’t let him down).
3PM Kick off, we start the game very bright, taking a two goal lead and we hold the lead until the half time whistle. The second half was a totally different affair though, as England Schools take control and score two goals to earn themselves a draw.
Game over and we must return back home. We have certainly all enjoyed the whole experience and hopefully we’ve done enough, to cement our place in the squad and we look forward to our next 4 games.
The next group of games start against Chelsea this Wednesday at Cobham, before we then head out and play in our first international tournament in Italy in mid February.
Boreham Wood Football Club can also announce that it was in fact, our very own Ben Goodliffe who was named as the England College Captain for the game above. The club would like to say how proud we are of Ben on being named skipper and of all three boys for their achievements to date.
We of course wish them all the best of luck against Chelsea on Wednesday, in their next match and we will keep you all informed of how they get on..