Congratulations to North West Neasden A who this week clinched the coveted JC MSFL title. I bumped into the squad at a restaurant the night before the match and you could just sense that they were in the right frame of mind to get the job done.
Captain Lee Cash summed things up perfectly when he said that manager Jamie Cole, who arrived at Bricket Wood long before the match to sweep surface water off the pitch, deserves much of the credit.
“Jamie lives and breathes Neasden,” he said. It has been a long time coming for my former club with Danny Daggers and Adam Stolerman the only two players I had the pleasure of lining up alongside during my heyday. That’s not forgetting keeper David Fox, the man who took my place in goal. Foxy has turned into a fine keeper.
Like me, he’s not the biggest but what he lacks in inches he more than makes up for with stunning reflexes.
It’s also been a memorable week for Matt Stock. I first spotted him playing for Brady Maccabi three seasons ago and predicted that he would set the world alight. He scored a hat-trick past me when I donned Faithfold B colours and on Saturday he produced some of the best finishing that Craven Cottage has witnessed this season in the Varsity match. Stock also hopes to play his third game of the week on Sunday when he will try to help Neasden see off Division Four table-toppers FC Team in the semi-finals of the Jewish FA Cup.
Cash warned his side: “We know they’ll be fired up and certainly won’t take them for granted.” Seeing Stock is the last thing that Team player-manager Mitch Young would have wanted. But having disposed of Premier Division Bafana Bafana and bogey side AC Cricklewood in previous rounds, Young believes his team can pull off a shock of major proportions.
FC Team captain Rich Sternberg said: “It’s going to be an incredible day, and one we’ve been waiting for a long time.” Keeper Mike Perkin will need to play the game of his life if the underdogs are to stand a chance. Young also hopes that midfield general Laurence Judah and the creative genius of Lorian Madanes give as good as they get.
It has certainly been a season of shocks, and with Barnsley having dumped Liverpool and Chelsea out of the FA Cup, and Chigwell B edging past Hendon A in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup, you just never know...
The other tie sees Jonathan Kestenbaum’s Hendon up against top-flight rivals Redbridge Jewish Care A. Up until the last couple of weeks the Hammers were having a magnificent season but their treble hopes evaporated virtually overnight. It’s their last chance of winning something this season and I expect the likes of Josh Bentley, Paul Bentley, Martin Smulovitch, Motti Korman and Danny Berliner to help them through.
That said, RJC are no mugs, and with the experience of keeper Paul Leonard, Glenn Michaels and Paul Lenchner, they will be quietly confident of reaching their first final. Deri Ansher has left her post as junior club secretary at London Maccabi Lions after five and a half years.
Elaine Taylor, who held a similar post at Pinner JFC, has stepped into the position. I was a guest on the Sacksy & Davo Route One Sports Show on jcom.net last week. The North London Raiders pairing of Richard Sacks and Ashley Davidson certainly kept me on my toes along with Chigwell Athletic chairman Richard Slater.