The Sutton United Community Team flew to Belfast on Wednesday to take up an invitation from the Northern Ireland FA to compete in the George Best Memorial Cup, for players with disabilities, at the Billy Neil Centre of Excellence in Dundonald, Belfast.
The first day of competition could not have gone better for the U's, as they finished top of their group (Roy Hodgson, take note).
Results - Group 5
Sutton Utd 6 Kare 0
Sutton Utd 4 Lisburn 1
Sutton Utd 1 Coleraine 'A' 0
Sutton Utd 4 Lakeland 0
Sutton Utd 3 PFC Flames 0
Team manager Steve King was delighted with the way the day went. "First of all, I'd like to thank the Northern Irish FA for the invitation and also congratulate them on the arrangements for the event, it could not be better organised. We have had a good day, winning all five of our group games, but today was really about the organisers working out the relative strength of the 72 teams, who come from all across the UK and Ireland.”
After topping group 5 the Sutton United Community Team went into the final day full of with confidence. The George Best Community Cup is decided on four ability levels, with every team having a chance to lift one of the four George Best Community Cups and medals for the runners-up and 3rd place winners in ability level.
Ability 1 = 6 teams
Ability 2 = 15 teams
Ability 3 = 27 teams
Ability 4 = 22 teams
Sutton United Community team were placed in the tough looking ability 2 with the U's team being selected with a 50/50 mix of the U's A and B squads. The U's were put into in group A.
Sutton United 1 [Leconte ] NWSO 0
Sutton United 3 [Taylor 2,Cheeseman] Stirling A 0
Sutton United 7 [Taylor 4 Cheeseman 2 OG] Bradford City A 0
Sutton United 1 [Cheeseman] Llandudno 1
Sutton United win group A and go into the semi-finals.
Semi-Final: Glentoran A 3 Sutton United 0
The semi-final match could not have started any worse for the U's straight from kick off U's danger man Cheeseman was scythed down and this left him unable to continue and out of the rest of the tournament, with the referee not showing a red card. It was not going to be the U's day as a torrential downpour made it almost impossible for three of the U's players, who all wear spectacles, to see during the storm. Glentoran took the lead and with the U's pushing forward and added a further two goals on the break.
Glentoran would go onto to win the George Best Community Cup.
3rd and 4th Place Final: Sutton United 2 [Taylor 2 ] Lakeland A 0
With the weather improving the U's managed to get a tired looking starting line-up together against a good Lakeland team. Despite some early pressure the U's managed to hold tight and the outstanding Paul Leconte found Josh Taylor, who hammered the U's ahead. As Lakeland pushed forward it was the U's player of the tournament, Josh Taylor, who showed great strength and fired a unstoppable shot past the Lakeland keeper. The final whistle went leaving the U's players celebrating an outstanding achievement finishing 3rd in the George Best Community Cup
William Stone, Daniel Lock, James West, Nick West, Paul Leconte, Hannah Lawrence, Ryan Cheeseman, Steve Preedy, Josh Taylor.
Manager Steve King said “What an amazing experience for all of the team, some of whom have never even left their families before. To be able to give type this of opportunity and life experience to the team is something the team will never forget. We would like thank all our special sponsors who have made all this possible.”