I was within touching distance of a lead role in cup final

The Jewish FA Cup final takes centre stage this weekend and it is hard to believe that I was just minutes away from playing a hands-on part. Having conceded 18 goals in my last three matches, I was not looking forward to the semi-final against North West Neasden A, one of my former clubs, and up against some of the leading lights of Jewish football, including two Maccabiah players, I was expecting the worst.

I have never been so proud of a group of players as I was last Sunday as North London Raiders A took Neasden to the wire. Hours of research and conversation with team manager Adam Fegan saw L’Orange match our illustrious opponents in a game that no-one had given us a chance in.

In the build-up to the game, Wingate & Finchley’s Maccabiah-bound defender Michael Sacks withdraw from the squad after getting a ticket to see Ricky Hatton fight in Las Vegas. But he bolstered our squad after his trip was cancelled due to the Swine Flu virus.

The boys gave as good as they got with a display of guts, commitment and spirit. In the end, Neasden’s superior fitness proved decisive, leaving Raiders boss Adam Fegan to say: “I do not want to think about could have been, but let’s think about what could be.” They say that no-one ever remembers losing semi-finalists but I believe that Raiders could be the exception.

Although Chigwell Athletic A will have something to say about this, I believe that Sunday’s final features the best two teams in the MSFL. Hendon have won admiration across the country for their football, spirit and the way they go about their business.

I have watched them several times in recent seasons and cannot remember one occasion when they have chased a ref, appealing a decision. Their disciplinary record is exemplary and there would be no team more deserving of lifting the national cup.

Neasden have turned into an awesome machine. Their squad is blessed with great strength and that is a tribute to the work and commitment of Jamie Cole, Daniel Fox and coach Darren Yarlett, who ensures that the team is perfectly prepared from a mental and physical viewpoint.

Cup finals rarely live up to the occasion as with the exception of London Maccabi Lions A last season, teams appear overawed by the big occasion and big pitch at the Harry Abrahams Stadium. But with so much quality on show, supporters can expect to be treated to a contest that could swing either way.

Congratulations to Adam Glekin who becomes the first goalkeeper to win Temple Fortune 1st XI Player of the Season since me!

London Maccabi Vale’s Joseph Morris of Hasmonean will receive a coaching session with the Middlesex 1st team squad after winning an Under 15 competition at Lords.

I am pleased to see my former Casual Nomads teammates still going strong. With seam bowler Norman Marine getting better with age, captain Richard Ferrer hopes that in Moshe and Peter Sulzbacher and Josh Webber, they have unearthed some stars of the future.

London Maccabi Vale 2nd travel to Harrow St. Mary’s in the Middlesex Sunday League Division Two while Nomads take on Chigwell in the Maccabi Sunday Cricket League.

Chigwell are looking to push on this season with much expected from Alex Katseph following an impression showing in winter nets. Wicketkeeper/batsman Brad Ormsby could be a key figure while Paul Salador will be trusted with the new ball. Youth players Michael Myers and Joshua Rose will be guided through the campaign by the experienced Kevin Sinclair, Danny Myers and Stuart Kaye.

    Last updated: 2:11pm, May 7 2009