AFC Bluebirds is a football club sponsored by Conservative Home since 2012 with an away strip sponsored by Lord Ashcroft Polls. The club is made up of Conservatives who work in and around Westminster.
By Hudson Roe
After breaking my arm, I finally made my return to Bluebirds recently, after three months out, and have promised Paul that we’d have a final ‘end of year report’ as I’ve been unable to write match reports. It’s a good time to reflect on what has been an overwhelmingly positive season and look ahead to our summer friendlies against the Lobby and Demon Eyes, amongst others.
Through running the team, I’ve been fortunate to see the club grow over the past three and a half years to the point it is at now. Two five-a-side teams and an 11-a-side team. Around 30 regular players. A fantastic home kit sponsored by ConservativeHome and our first away kit, sponsored by Lord Ashcroft Polls. 2013/14 has seen welcome and significant change – and hopefully it’ll be an even better 2014/15.
Our first ever 11-a-side season was split into two leagues. The first, 14 matches, continued until January and was followed by a shorter league, only seven matches. We achieved a fourth place finish in the first league and in the second season we finished second – level on points with the eventual winners (and losing only to them).
We didn’t win the league, but the way in which we grew as a team meant that we finished the season much stronger than we started. Our inexperience showed in quite a few games, but, in our final run of matches our performances got much better. We must have been quite entertaining to watch – in five of our final seven games, we scored three or more goals. We also had a pretty mean defence by the end of the season, conceding more than once in only one game in last seven matches and having the best defensive record in the league.
On Monday evenings, our five-a-side teams play throughout the year. As one season finishes, another begins. At the moment, we’re not winning as we are used to, both teams near the bottom of their respective leagues – largely owing to the injury to our goalkeeper. But I’m confident that this is a temporary blip and that we’ll be racing back up the table quickly. It’s a pretty harsh environment to play in, a pitch about the size of a penalty area, enclosed in a cage. Something similar to the 2002 Nike World Cup commercial – just without Eric Cantona in charge. It’s fast paced, frenetic and causes broken arms in my case.
We also recently held our third awards ceremony, with Tim Montgomerie handing out the awards. Whilst I’d love to write about all the players in our team (they’re all great guys and I’m grateful for all of their support) and how they’ve done this season, there are too many.
Captain’s Player of the Season (11-a-side) – Chris Rees
Chris is, without doubt, one of the finest defenders I’ve been able to player alongside. One of the fastest players off the mark, there are countless times that an opposition bearing down on our keeper has thought themselves certain to score, only to have Chris stop them. Chris is also pretty good on the ball and has scored quite a few through the season.
Captain’s Player of the Season (5-a-side) – Joe Cawley
Joe is an incredible goalkeeper. Quick to react, brave and very willing to shout at his defence. His recent injury has meant he’s been unable to play and his absence has been felt (as you’ll have read above, with the 5-a-side teams struggling). Joe is our most consistent performer and many a match is won because of his extraordinary saves.
Player’s Player of the Season, Top Scorer, Goal of the Season – Will McCann
The undisputed top goalscorer in our team (and the league) with 33 goals in league and cup games, Will received more man of the match awards than anyone else in our league, and was rewarded by his teammates with the player’s player of the season award. His goal of the season came for a goal in our very first league match. Will picked the ball up on the half-way line, beat one man and then from 35 yards drove a brilliant shot past the opposition keeper – similar to this.
Clubman – Luke Webster
Luke was recently made captain of the second of our five-a-side teams. He plays at left back in our 11-a-side teams and has been one of the most dependable players in the team. The award recognised that and celebrates his commitment to the Bluebirds.
It has been a great season for us. One which we all feel we can build on next year. As preparation for the upcoming 11-a-side season we’ve got friendlies coming up against Westminster Wanderers (12 June) and our annual games against Demon Eyes (19 July and 23 August), the Labour-leaning team sponsored by LabourList as well as a match against the Lobby which we’re getting a date for imminently. Additionally on 26 June, we’re having the first of what will be an annual inter-squad match where we will play against each other (and both of our fantastic kits will be on show). We’ll continue to play our five-a-side matches as well.
I’d like to thank Paul and Conservative Home for their support of AFC Bluebirds. Our relationship with this site has just passed the two-year mark, and I hope it will continue long into the future. Similarly I’d like to thank Lord Ashcroft Polls for sponsoring our first ever away kit.
We’re always keen for people to come and watch or join the team, so please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to do either. If you have a team and would like to play us, please do get in touch.