Congratulations to Fulham Deaf FC (FDFC) who have become the 2013 British Deaf Champions after a 5-0 win over St John's Arsenal in the British Deaf Cup Final at the weekend, meaning the side will head to Europe next season.
A double strike from Jacob Willis helped to seal the win alongside efforts from Alex Bovino, Jonathan Evans and Daniel Waller. And it means that the Club have now qualified to take part in next season's Deaf Champions League.
Prior to making the Cup Final, Fulham Deaf required an extra-time goal to get past Rutherford Deaf (Newcastle) 2–1 in the semi-final in Liverpool, so the team were under no illusions as to how difficult it would be to complete their task and take the trophy home. The Final had all the makings of a classic as both sides are really seen as the giants of Deaf Football.
It has been said that English players can’t change systems but Fulham Deaf proved on Saturday that this is not the case with our players. They played a different formation with a different set of tactics to stop the threat of St John’s formidable three strikers. They handled the changes fantastically and showed composure as they rose to the occasion. They were also defensively the more organised team; when this was added to their counter attacking force, the game really lived up to expectations.
However, the first quarter of the game saw St John's dominating early proceedings and forcing Fulham back, pressing high up the pitch and ensuring that Fulham found it difficult to keep possession.
Nonetheless, their pressing game soon subsided and Fulham started to switch back to their trademark passing and counter attacking game. With 20 minutes on the clock, Fulham won a corner. Philip Swift floated an accurate ball into the area which was well-met by Bovino, whose fine header found the top corner to give Fulham a 1-0 lead. On the half-hour mark, the Whites doubled their advantage: Daniel Hogan’s free kick found Evans who flicked the ball in off the back post. Shortly before half-time, the Whites scored their third goal of the match, with the lightning quick Willis beating the St John’s keeper to a deep ball to give Fulham a three-goal lead at half time.
When the second half began, St John's began to re-discover their pressing game and applied pressure on the Whites' defence for the first 15 minutes of the second period. The opposition's efforts proved to be in vain, though, as Fulham defended superbly, drawing in the opposition and then creating a fourth goal on the counter; Willis adding his second and Fulham’s fourth after rifling home a first time shot past the keeper at the near post after being played through by Mark Sinclair. Waller finished the game off in the last few minutes, running through from midfield and slotting the ball past the keeper after some clever play between the front three.
Manager Ayad Sarraf praised “the team spirit, and commitment in one of the club's greatest victories in this competition,” while Fulham Deaf Captain Jonathan Evans paid tribute to his teammates, saying: “It has been a long season, with a number of highs and lows. It speaks volumes for the team’s character, application and talent that they were able to deliver such a stunning performance on the highest stage in British Deaf football. I’m very proud of them. The challenge now is to maintain that standard.”
“The British Deaf Cup is the biggest competition for us here at Fulham," Head Coach Chris McGinn told the official website. “It’s a bit like the FA Cup, but it covers the whole of the UK. St John’s Arsenal are a real formidable side and their front three are Great Britain international players. They have a real quality about them and we worked Thursday night on our tactics to change the formation and the way that we play.
“I’ve been at the Club for five years now and it has sent a bit of a shockwave through the game here. We’ve had a massive response from fans and on social networks, a little shocked that, not only did we beat St John’s, but that we gave them a bit of a battering. This is probably my proudest time at Fulham. To get there is such a great result and I’m so proud of everyone here for what they have achieved.”
Fulham FC Vice Chairman, Karim Fayed, said: “I would like to congratulate Ayad Sarraf, Chris McGinn and the entire Fulham Deaf Team for a remarkable achievement in becoming the 2013 British Deaf Champions and qualification for next season’s Deaf Champions League for the first time since 2008.
"The squad has been together for a decade and this is the fourth time the players have lifted the British Deaf Cup. Next season promises to be another exciting campaign for the Fulham Deaf Team, well done to everyone involved."
FDFC Line-up (4-2-3-1) : Sam Kemp, Jack Harding, Daniel Hogan, Jonathan Evans (Capt), Nick Gregory (Daniel Rumney 80), Daniel Waller, Alex Bovino (Thai Rickford 80), Philip Swift, Mark Sinclair, Joe Wylde (James Paull 75), Jacob Willis. Subs not used : Sam Arnold and Ross Ward
Man of the match : Mark Sinclair
Images courtesy of Lucy Hawes
For more news and information on the Fulham Deaf Team, visit their website: http://www.fulhamdfc.com