The Lent term football kicked off in style with the senior footballers travelling to Barcelona at the start of the Christmas holidays for five days. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd XI squads played two fixtures each with the boys winning 3, drawing 1 and losing 2. On top of the fixtures, the boys worked on attacking strategies and defending principles within their five training sessions in the Spanish sun. The tour was topped off with a trip to the Nou Camp to watch FC Barcelona play Deportivo La Coruna in their La Liga match. An incredible end to the tour, allowing the boys to watch players like Messi and Suarez, some of the best footballers in the world.
Back in England after the Christmas and New Year break, over 250 boys attended two strong days of preseason training. Lots of technical work and game play gave the boys a chance to hone their skills ahead of the first preseason fixtures against Colfe's School.
On Saturday 6 January, seven Dulwich teams travelled to Colfe's to play fixtures in preparation for the football season. A fun and enjoyable 5-a-side tournament saw the U13s come out winners in a mixed team tournament. The U14 A and B/C teams both enjoyed strong starts winning 11-0 and 8-0. Another strong performance saw the u15A side win 5-0 and next door the 2nd XI carried on their unbeaten start from tour to win 11-1. The 1st XI who had also made a strong start on tour found it difficult to break down Colfe's but ended up winning 1-0 to round off a perfect start to the football term for the Dulwich boys.
Week one saw fixtures against Hampton School, Claremont Fan Court School and St Johns Leatherhead with an impressive 32 teams representing the College. A great round of morning fixtures saw the u12s and u13s face tough tests against the two term footballing powerhouse of Hampton. A strong set of results from Dulwich with a special mention to the u12A team who drew 1-1, meant the boys came away from week 1 excited to continue their development in their games sessions. In the afternoon block, impressive wins from the 5th XI, 6th XI, 7th XI, U15D and U14E teams started the term well for the more senior sides. Overall a great start to the term with an even spread of results against strong schools.
The second blocks of the year saw us face Kings College School Wimbledon, Highgate School and Tonbridge School. A strong morning saw 9 wins out of 13 fixtures for the U12s and U13s. In the rain on wet pitches the lower school boys showed how football should be played with lots of smiling faces and fun had by all. In a new fixture the U14A, B and C teams played Highgate School. The U14A game ended 1-2, with the Bs and Cs winning 4-3 and 5-0. The senior footballers faced Tonbridge in a historic fixture on a wet afternoon which foiled some of the creativity within both sides. Strong wins for the 2nd XI, 5th XI and u15As led the way in another tremendous block of fixtures with 450 boys out representing the College.
On Saturday 27 January, in the third block of the year, we welcomed St Paul's Junior School and University College School. In the morning, the U13As game was end to end with both teams creating chances but neither were able to capitalise. In another thriller the U13C edged St Paul's 3-1 in a fantastic match. The impressive victories continued throughout the day with the U14As winning 5-0, U15As 3-2 and the U15Bs 5-2. The 3rd XI played in the game of the day, scoring an incredible 11 goals on their way to a comfortable win and the 1st XI rounded off another good Saturday with a 2-1 victory, their first of the season to still remain unbeaten through January.
In the London Independent Schools Cup the 1st XI faced Brentwood in a repeat of last year's final. After falling 0-3 behind early on, Dulwich found themselves 1-4 down at half time. An impressive second half display saw them claw the score back to 3-4 but unfortunately they could not quite do enough to peg back Brentwood. In the 2nd XI competition, the 2nds also faced Brentwood and after a thrilling 80 minutes the game was poised at 1-1 with extra time required. In the second half of extra time Dulwich managed to take advantage and the 2nd XI held on to book their place in the quarter finals with John Lyon or KCS Wimbledon their opponents.
The final set of the half terms fixtures saw the lower school take part in their house competitions with all football boys out representing their houses. Jonson took the spoils in the Year 7 competition, closely contested by Marlowe and Raleigh with Marlowe coming out on top in Year 8 just ahead of Drake. A fantastic morning of football with boys from all teams mixing together, having fun and scoring lots of goals. In the afternoon games we hosted Brighton College in what turned out to be another strong Saturday for the black and blue boys. An exciting 12 wins out of 16 fixtures showed the progress all teams had made across the term, with notable performances from the u15s who won all of their games with impressive results.
In the second group of cup fixtures the 1st XI and 2nd XI were in action in the quarter finals of the Trinity Cup. The 2nd XI faced Brighton College and in a close game, the match was poised at 2-2 going into the final ten minutes. Unfortunately, Brighton managed to score two goals to take the game away from the visitors Dulwich. The 1st XI found themselves on the end of a tough draw and played Royal Russell School in an evening game at Conference South side Bromley FC. In a tight affair Dulwich looked to remain compact and catch Royal Russell on the break. After having a goal disallowed for offside, Dulwich took the lead after a thunderous strike just after the half hour mark. Royal Russell quickly levelled before half time but the game remained close going into the final twenty minutes, but it was Royal Russell who struck first. A well worked corner routine caught out the Dulwich defence and as Dulwich pushed to get back into the game Royal Russell extended their lead and the game finished 1-3. A strong display from the 1s who despite having two tough cup matches remain unbeaten in their Saturday blocks.
In the final week of half term, the U14 A to E teams faced KCS Wimbledon in another closely contested block. With four out of five wins the U14s battled hard, with the standout moment coming from the U14Cs who left it until the last kick of the game to grab a 1-0 win to the despair of their opponents. Having so many boys opt for football in the Upper School has been a real positive this half term and on Wednesday the 3rd to 8th XIs played City of London School to round off the term. Another impressive display saw the 5th XI end the term unbeaten with a 100% winning record. Other good results from the 6th and 8th XIs saw the first half of term end on a high note.
Overall it has been a great first half of term on the football pitch. With 36 teams represented and over 500 boys playing football it has been fantastic to see all boys enjoying themselves and representing the College so well. With another busy half term ahead and fixtures against Whitgift, St Pauls, Brentwood and Westminster there is much more for the boys to be looking forward too.
All individual results can be found on the Dulwich Sport website and for more fixture and result updates please follow us on twitter at @FootballDulwich and @dulwichsport.
Well done to all boys who have played this half term and enjoy your deserved break!