The teams take the field


Jim Taylor

The finals of the Middlesex FA Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 Girls’ Cups were staged on Saturday, 4th May at Rectory Park. We reintroduced our own girls’ cup competitions in season 2021-22, following the growth of the girls’ game, to replace the Capital Girls’ Cups, which involved teams from several county FAs. 

We started the day with the Under 12 final, recently named after the day’s Guest of Honour, Judi Grice, a dedicated worker for youth football, who is a Middlesex FA Councillor and member of the Youth Competitions Sub-Committee. Judi was introduced to the players and the match officials before the kick off.

The teams involved were London City Strikers Diamonds and Hitchin Belles Youth Purples. The Strikers were formed in 2023 and are members of the Hertfordshire Girls Football Partnership League Division 1 and the Girls Super League. The Belles were formed in 1999 and currently play in Division 2 of the Royston Crow Youth Football League.

Brent Schools were the current holders of this cup, having won a penalty shoot-out against Barnet Nightingales, following an entertaining 3-3 draw in last season’s final at Rectory Park.

23 teams entered this season’s competition, which was a pleasing increase from last season’s 13.

The Strikers Diamonds were drawn away in every round of the competition but reached the final by scoring 26 goals and conceding just 2, in their 4 games. They beat Enfield Town Ladies Youth Blues 5-0 in round 1, London City Strikers Opals 6-1 in round 2, Acton Ealing Whistlers Youth 11-1 in the quarter-final and Ickenham Youth Tigers 4-0 in the semi-final.

The Belles were also drawn away in every round and recorded an even more impressive goals record, scoring 35 and conceding just 1. They beat Barnet Nightingales Girls 11-0 in round 1, Enfield Town Ladies Youth Reds 7-1 in round 2, Denham United Ladies Youth Wildcats 15-0 in the quarter-final and Queens Park Rangers Women 2-0 in the semi-final.

Matches in this competition are played over 30 minutes in each half, with 9 players a side and rolling substitutions.

The audience at Rectory Park was treated to a skilful and entertaining match. Hitchin Belles led by a single goal at half time and added to their lead 4 minutes into the second half. However, the Diamonds pulled a goal back and although the Belles dominated play, there was no further score and the game remained in the balance until the final whistle.

The Diamonds mounted the first attack and Lois Webster’s run and cross produced a corner.

Isabelle Kelly shoots

The Belles hit back and winger, Isabelle Kelly’s shot from wide on the right went across the goal and out beyond the far post. Then another shot from Isabelle, from just outside the penalty area, was saved by goalkeeper, Sila Catley.

...and Sila Catley saves

Lois Webster’s long shot bounced on top of the Belles’ crossbar.

Belles’ captain, Ivy Verlaecke-Williams’ corner was well taken high up by Sila Catley.

Isabelle Kelly's (9) shot bounces down from the crossbar

Hitchin Belles took the lead in the 12th minute. Defender, Honey Bird’s long- range effort started a melee in the London City goalmouth, during which a shot from Isabelle Kelly rebounded down from the crossbar. Lillymay Francis eventually netted.

...and Lillymay Francis (obscured) nets the first goal

Diamonds’ Amy Storey picked up Orla Kerr’s through ball and fired just wide.

Lillymay shot past the Diamonds’ upright and then Sila Catley saved from Ivy Verlaecke-Williams, under pressure at her near post, following a Belles’ corner.

Sila Catley saves at her near post under pressure

A good Belles’ move finished with Ivy Verlaecke-Williams shooting narrowly wide.

Hitchin defender, Valentina Anscombe made an important interception from Lois Webster.

Half time score: London City Strikers Diamonds 0   Hitchin Belles Youth Purples 1

Ivy Verlaecke-Williams was marginally too high with a drive.

At the other end, Valentina Anscombe made another good interception. 

Ivy smashed the ball high into the Diamonds’ net, from close range, to score Hitchin’s second goal in the 4th minute of the second half.

Ivy Verlaecke-Williams (obscured) scores Belles' second goal

Belles’ Lola Bidgway set up Isla Avigad, whose shot on the turn was saved by Sila Catley.

Sila saves from Isla Avigad

In the 12th minute of the half, Amy Storey’s well struck long shot dipped into the net to reduce the Diamonds’ arrears.

Amy Storey's shot dips under the bar for Diamonds' goal

Farrah Georgiades then went close for the Diamonds.

The Belles resumed their offensive. Elsa Sarll finished a tricky run with a low cross. Sadie Bannister overhit a long freekick. Ivy released Elsa, who fired wide. Faith Litton’s long shot was also narrowly wide. Sila saved Isabelle Kelly’s low shot. 

The first part of Sila's double save...

Sila Catley made a great double save. She pushed out a low shot from Lillymay Francis and readjusted to block an attempt from the rebound by Lola Bidgway.

...and the second part of Sila's double save

Amy Storey’s long shot was blocked by a Belles’ defender.

Final score: London City Strikers Diamonds 1   Hitchin Belles Youth Purples 2

Referee Sasha Cudner had a very good match, ably assisted by her team.  All of the match officials were under the age of 18.

Guest of Honour, Judi Grice presented the Cup and the individual mementoes at the end of the match. She chose the Belles’ influential midfielder and captain, Ivy Verlaecke-Williams as Player of the Match.

The winners with the cup


London City Strikers Diamonds: Sila Catley, Lois Webster, Angel Clark, Amelie Hurrell, Orla Kerr, Amy Storey, Farrah Georgiades (capt), Lucy Collins and Sophie Correia.

Rolling substitutes: Lincoln Bron, Mia Idelson, Hattie Downs, Willow Clark and Darcie Ivers.

Manager: James Hurrell   Assistant Managers: Richard Bron and Merrill Webster.  

Hitchen Belles Youth Purples: Rosie Grace Johnson, Honey Bird, Faith Litton, Lillymay Francis, Sadie Bannister, Isabelle Kelly, Elsa Sarll, Valentina Anscombe and Ivy Verlaecke-Williams (capt).

Rolling substitutes: Lear Molloy, Milena Saril, Isla Avigad, Betsy Porter and Lola Bidgway.

Manager: Gemma Smith   Coaches: Ryan Brooke and Roger Verlaecke-Williams.

Referee: Sasha Cudner Assistant Referees: Milanna Cadore and Amy Fryer Fourth Official: Elsie Grover Jones.  

Attendance: 117

Report: Jim Taylor

Photography: Chris Benn


Full Set