Having beaten MGBSFL table-toppers NLR A and South Manchester on the way to the final, Oakwood fans believe this will be their year. Here, joint-manager Ric Blank introduces us to the team.
1. OLI GEE - keeper. Mesut Ozil as he’s affectionately known (by me) is a terrific keeper when he’s not hungover. A stunning performance in the quarter-final at Raiders went a long way to ensuring our appearance at Wingate today. Needs to be around more next season to remind everyone just how good he can be
2. DAN COHEN - keeper. I remember the day DC walked into my life. Who wouldn’t? A larger than life character (he doesn’t shut up), he gave management a heart attack with a back-heel in the semi-final. When he concentrates he’s a top keeper with the rare ability to dominate his own box
3. DAVE COHEN – full-back. Similarly named to the above with a slight difference in physique, Dave Cohen is enjoying his best-ever season. His dedication is exemplary and the work he puts into his football is there for all to see. Rarely misses a game, DC is the heartbeat of the dressing room. Single.
4. JONNY BEILIN – full-back. Known affectionately to work colleagues as ‘Jon Beilin’, he’ll always be Jonny Beilin to us. That’s because we can’t call him JB anymore - that’s what we call Bentley. Solid as ever this season – one of two remaining scousers in the first team, he is proof that Oakwood’s ethnic cleansing is nearly complete
5. ILAN SCORAH – centre half. The world held it’s breath with the news of Scorah the King’s engagement. What length will his hair be at the wedding? Will he wear a check shirt? Will Mrs Scorah wear a check shirt? Big, big questions. Recent form has been much improved after a stop-start early season spell that saw him spend too much time in Brighton. Must have it written in the ketubah: "Oakwood comes first"
6. ADAM LEVINE – centre half. Much-maligned lead singer from Maroon 5, Levine gave up the rock star lifestyle to play for Oakwood in 2008 and was made captain the following year. Perennially injured this season, Levine is displaying all the signs of ‘approaching 30-itus’ – works too hard, is never fit and has a bird. Knows what he has to do to return to the heart of the side - switch lagers
7. SAM JACOBSON – centre half/mid. No relation to Guy Helman, but brother of Joe Jacobson - Shrewsbury Town’s finest. Sam is an Oakwood legend in his own right having made an enormous impact since day one. Exudes class and confidence and doesn’t mind listening to DG bang on about FFP on the way to footie. Top man
8. DANIEL AILION – full-back. Brand spanking new to Oakwood, Ailion moved down from Manchester in February for the life of a city lawyer. Tremendous flame-coloured hair, Ailion is solid as a rock with those go-go-gadget legs. Not dissimilar in style to Corluka. This is a compliment
9. HARVEY KAYE – full back/winger. Harvey must be battery-powered. It would certainly explain his excessive fitness and dynamic pace as he joins attack after attack. Crossed the departing Toby Levy on the M6 on his way down and hasn’t looked back since. Will be looking to avenge last year’s personal disappointment with South
10. DAN GEEY – centre mid. Oakwood’s Edward Scissorhands has got the X-Factor back into his game after an enforced absence over Christmas. Still Mr. Reliable, the only noticeable difference between now and the 2012 final is the birth of his daughter Issy. She now captains the seconds
11. JOSH BENTLEY – centre mid. An absolute gem of a player and simply the nicest guy you could wish to meet. The secret captain of Oakwood, Josh Bentley broke Oakwood hearts with a knee injury that cut his debut season short. Mild mannered with well-channelled aggression, JB is back on imperious form in season number two. Possibly used to play for Hendon – not sure
12. DAN ROSE – centre mid. Riddled with knee injuries since joining Oakwood in 2009, Rosey is back and fitter than ever. Has shown immense commitment and determination to force his way back into the reckoning and should be proud to be involved in what I hope is the first of many finals
13. JOSH ROSE – centre mid. One of 23 midfielders at the club, Josh played some of his best football this season up front on the 3G surface at Brunel. Strong with a good touch, Josh will establish himself as a regular starter in time. 90 per cent of the squad now lives vicariously through Josh. The other 10 per cent are lying
14. ALEX KOSLOVER – centre mid. Wrote himself into Oakwood folklore with a semi-final winner in extra-time against his old club, South Manchester. Celebrated in typical Kossy fashion – at his own pace, to his own beat. Class footballer who will be sorely missed in the final after an encouraging debut season
15. CARL PETERS – centre mid. Sometimes spelt Caaaaarl, other times Caaaaaaaarl. Either way this is a man’s man who runs a bar and drinks ale for breakfast. A fine passing footballer, Carl was transformed last season into a central midfielder capable of dictating the biggest games. Did I mention he runs a bar?
16. BOBBIE COUSINS – centre forward. Had the Germans employed Bobs in the war their coded messages would never have been cracked. I have spent hours on end trying to decipher a Bobs text message, wondering if he’s playing on a Sunday or not. The answer I hope for is ‘yes’. A massive, massive player and one the league’s best when fit
17. ANTONY KINTISH - forward. DC’s star man for 200 out of Oakwood’s 205 games in the past eight years, the 2014 vintage is a slightly different Kintish. Now with his own business, a baby girl and a new house, Kintish has it all – except a PM winner’s medal. Retains incredible natural athleticism and fitness despite never going to the gym. Sees something of himself in Harvey, but Harvey’s probably better
18. BRAD WINE - winger. Brad is getting better with each season – a terrifying thought for the opposition. His natural aggression and pace have played an enormous role in getting Oakwood to this final and he’s hitting form at the right time. We’ve seen less winter wear at training this year which may be the biggest statement on climate change to date
19. DAN ASH winger. Crazed lunatic who masquerades as top investment banker during the day, Ashy is one on his own. Has something of the Bruce Wayne about him given his split personality, but I’d be surprised if Ashy was out saving the city at night. He doesn’t like most people. Not really said anything about football here have I? He’s fast but needs to stop going away so much
20. GUY HELMAN - winger. The football Gods have well and truly cursed me this season. First I get David Moyes, then Liverpool win the league and now this – Guy Helman misses the final. He’s on a cruise. Lucky cruise. Brilliant player and fantastic bloke Guy has fitted in seamlessly at Oakwood and we’ve seen the best of him in recent weeks. Will be missed today, but will probably make the backpage of the JC regardless!
21. JONNY QUINN - striker. There are not enough words to describe Quinny. A tremendous addition to the dressing room he’s worked hard to integrate himself to the side. A 6am start in Clapham is proof of his commitment to the cause. Reliable for a goal, the best of Quinny is still to come. Surname also rhymes with Kinny.
22. DAVE WOOLMAN - striker. Had a stop start season with illness but has worked hard in the past few months to re-establish himself. The nicest Leeds boy you’ll meet, his hatred of MUFC is subtle and more complex than most.
23. EDDIE MANSON & JOSH RUBIN - Both must be mentioned as integral parts of our squad who’re battling the Oakwood knee curse with the hope of returning next season. Two class acts with differing personalities. One shrugs his shoulders and gets on with it - the other is Eddie Manson.
24. ALEX SCHOCK – co-manager. Doesn’t get anywhere near as much grief as he should from the boys for saying things like “I’m in back-to-backs all day” and “it is what it is”. Made a typically huge contribution to this season but was happier than anyone with the return of Josh Bentley. Front-seat-in-the-Audi jackpot
25. RIC BLANK – co-manager. Thoroughly excited to be back at Wingate for a chance to pick up some silverware. Promises to do his best to remain in the technical area but apologises in advance for any encroachment
ROUTE TO WINGATE
Semi-final: - bt South Manchester FC 3-2 AET - Wine, Jacobson, Koslover
Quarter-final: - bt Norstar London Raiders A 2-1 - Helman 2
Round Three: bt FC Team C 2-1 - Wine 2
Round Two: bt Hendon B 5-1 - Quinn 2, Helman, J. Rose, Wine
Round One: bt AC Whetstone 4-2 - Kintish, Jacobson 2, J. Rose