PICTURE: Britwell Football Club Chairman, Sean Wright, lifts the East Berkshire League Premier Division trophy and celebrates with players from The Steamteam on Saturday night. PHOTO: Gary House.
Britwell Football Club has retained the East Berkshire League Premier Division title this season.
The Steamteam won their first top-flight crown last year and started the campaign as favourites to once again lift the silverware.
Britwell have led the race for the title from pillar to post and, although Southcote emerged as a late and surprise challenge to their dominance, manager John Brennan and his men were again declared champions.
Southcote, a young and emerging force in their own right, had to beat Britwell in a final-day title-decider to wrestle the crown away from the defending champions but they were readily brushed aside 3-1 in a Showcase Match at The Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Saturday night.
Aydn Christian scored twice to help his side clinch the title but was denied a hat-trick when his penalty kick was saved by the legs of the Southcote keeper. Cheyenne Crips bagged the third Britwell goal and missed a close-range chance to further enhance the victory.
Southcote pulled a goal back through Eric Macharia but will have to settle for a potential runners-up position - still an incredible effort in their first season in the Premier Division.
VIDEO: Britwell manager John Brennan reacts to the 3-1 win against Southcote as he team retained the EBFL Premier Division title at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Saturday night.
Britwell manager Brennan was both elated and relieved when speaking with the silverware in hand after the match, confident in the fact that his team is the best in the league right now and dedicating their success to long-time Chairman, Sean Wright.
He explained: “I’m elated, very happy, and relieved. I’ve been very anxious and just glad to have a little bit more release now that we’ve got the silverware. And, also because I’ve got my mind on other things now.
“I’m obviously going to enjoy this but, my mind is still going to wonder about the League Cup final, a couple of cup competition semi finals that we’ve got, and a couple of other things that we want to grab.
“We should’ve wrapped it up against KS Gryf but we let them back in. Then one thing led to another and that’s where we were on Saturday.
“I know that I probably shouldn’t mention this but I didn’t expect Southcote to be in this position. But, a turn of events has happened and they manoeuvred themselves into this position. We just have to accept it and play what was in front of us. and that’s exactly what we did on Saturday.”
Brennan continued: “I’m over the moon but it isn’t even about me. I get all the cogs and make it into a wheel. It’s about that wheel and there’s big factors in it, like Sean Wright, the Chairman of our Club. He was here on Saturday night and been there since 1974, since our Club was founded. He said to me, ‘you’ve made my week, my month, and my year’, and that means more to me than anything.
PICTURE: The Britwell squad and some young supporters celebrate with the Premier Division trophy. PHOTO: Gary House.
“I’ve got my kids here who have grown up on the Britwell estate, I’ve gown up on the Britwell estate as have all my supporters out there.
“Aydn Christian scored two goals on Saturday night. That man is born and raised, Britwell. That is what our club is about, that’s the ethos of Britwell F.C.”
Brennan noted some improved defending as a key factor in the victory and explained that he always has belief in his Britwell side, even when some poor finishing in front of goal meant the door was still open to Southcote for a short while on the night.
He explained: “It’s typical Cheyenne really because he’ll score the hardest chances but fluff the easy ones. But, In fairness, I wasn’t in a panicking situation because we were 3-1 up at the time when Aydn missed a penalty and also when Cheyenne missed that chance.
“Our team, we never say die, we never roll over, even when we played Southcote over at their place [in the League Cup]. They went 2-1 up but the minute we brought it back to 2-2 I knew that we were going to win the game. I am not saying that I’m Mystic Meg but I could envisage how it was going to pan out, and that is the faith that I have in the boys each week. Even when things get a little bit hairy my head tells me chill out, it’s going to be fine, and it all works out.”
PICTURE: Britwell celebrate the first of their three goals in the 3-1 win against Southcote in the title-deciding Showcase Match at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Saturday night. PHOTO: Gary House.
Brennan added: “Southcote are an active team, I’ll give them the respect that they’re due. They have got quite a high tempo and they’ve got some good players. We know they’ve got some weapons so I was really happy with the way that we asserted ourselves in the game.
“Our tempo was as high as it’s been all season. And the way that we defended as well, that’s what has impressed me the most because a lot of times this season we’ve given goals away, we’ve been a little bit lacklustre in our defending. On Saturday it was about squeezing, pushing, power and pace. That’s exactly what our team is about and I’m just over the moon with it.”
Britwell have become the first team since Delaford in 2019 to retain the Premier Division title. Since records began in 1912, only three teams has won the league for three years running (Bagshot 1952-1955, Bracknell Boys Club 1981-1984 and The Lynch Pin 2013-16), and Brennan is not ruling out the Steamteam attempting to emulate that history next year.
Incredibly, Britwell can still win a League and Cup competition quintet this season, with a League Cup final against Old Windsor upcoming at the 1879 Stadium in Burnham on Monday 1st May.
The Steamteam has reached the Semi Finals in both the Ascot & District Fielden Cup and the Maidenhead Norfolkian Senior Cup, and began the defence of their Challenge Cup trophy with a 5-3 win at home against Old Windsor on Wednesday evening.
PICTURE: A Britwell player is congratulated by EBFL Chairman, Bryan Bowyer, and receives the Premier Division silverware during the post-match presentation. PHOTO: Gary House.
Brennan commented: “The season is definitely not over. We’re in the League Cup final and we’ve got Old Windsor who are a more than capable adversary.
“We’ve got to Cup competition semi finals as well as the Challenge Cup still to play for. I fully intend to give them every last inch of what we’ve got because there’s not one we want to win more over the others, we want the lot.
“I have got a lot of questions that I ask myself and I’ve got questions that the boys ask me. There’s so many factors involved in that equation that I need to take into consideration before I make any decision [on next season].
“Ultimately, I play and work for my boys so it’s never just down to me. As much as I do say certain situations stresses me out and want try a different direction, I also have to take into consideration what my boys and the area thinks.”
Brennan also suggested that the idea Britwell is not well-liked amongst fellow teams has been the subject of his team talks all season, and the catalyst for his team to prove that they are the best footballing team in the area.
PICTURE: Britwell celebrate the first of their three goals in the 3-1 win against Southcote in a Showcase Match at The Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Saturday night. PHOTO: Gary House.
He explained: “I get the feeling that no-one likes Britwell, no-one wants to see us do well and everyone hates us. We’re branded with this stigma of being these council estate scallions that rock up and threaten people. We are abusive, we do not play with a high tempo, we don’t play good football, we’re just here to kick and rush, and batter people.
“I use that to my advantage because it helps me to spur on the boys but, I would like to think in my heart of hearts, that most of the paying spectators on Saturday will say that we are not that team, we’re not that sort of people. We are not that bunch of council estate misfits, we’re actually a footballing team that played with a really good tempo on Saturday night. We took it to the opposition, no matter who they brought down. They had a few cameo ballers but I’m not bothered about who they played.
“I’ve a bunch of core players here that have made 16-18 appearances because they have been here since day one until this point now. They helped me to win this title and I appreciate it untold.
“I will always be biased and I’ll back my boys to the hilt. I think that they’re the best team in the league by a mile and the win on Saturday goes out there and proves it.
“I use certain things to my advantage in the build up to games I say that the way things have engineered for other teams is a spite on Britwell, that they’re only doing it because they don’t want to see us in this position. It gees my boys up, it actually does me a favour.”
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