March 12, 2020
DYKE HOUSE Academy’s brilliant Year 8 football team will face the best in the country when they aim to book a place in the final of the National PlayStation Elite Cup on Friday morning (11am kick-off).
The Hartlepool school’s incredible run to the last four of the prestigious competition has set up an away day against last year’s all-conquering Sandwell Academy.
Sandwell, situated next door to West Bromwich Albion Football Club, are looking to retain the trophy they won in 2019; a year when they were also crowned National Cup and National Five-a-Side champions as well as Elite Cup winners.
Dyke House, a Northern Education Trust sponsored academy, has a group of players who have stunned the rest of the competition with the progress – and the players are not overawed by the challenge that lies ahead in the West Midlands.
Joe Palmer, the Year 8s team coach and PE teacher, said: “I am most proud of them all already because of their sheer determination and commitment to Dyke House.
“That desire to do well alongside their friendship on the pitch as a group is what gives them a never say die attitude. I know they will do everything they can to inflict a shock against, probably, the best school team in the country at this age.”
Dyke House dramatically reached the last four for the first time by travelling down to Grimsby to defeat the highly-fancied Tollbar Academy.
After falling a goal behind that afternoon, Frankie Coulson struck an equaliser to set up an incredible extra-time winner from Gene Steels.
Tollbar had six players attached to professional clubs that afternoon, four more than Dyke House, and that made the victory even more impressive.
Now the challenge is on for Dyke House – who also memorably defeated Harrogate’s St Aidan’s Church of England High School in the quarter-finals – to repeat the trick against even tougher opposition in West Bromwich.
Dyke House’s captain Ollie Duthie, 13, said: “We have done so well and it is hard to believe, with all of the schools in the country, that we have reached this stage – and the only team from our area to do that.”
Dyke House has never reached this stage of the Elite National Cup, although a team inspired by former Wolves and Ipswich defender Mark Venus reached the latter stages in the 1980s.
Mr Palmer said: “This is such an incredible achievement. They are full of belief and they just have to keep going, work hard and they have shown they can do that already.”
The full Dyke House squad travelling for the semi-final is: Ollie Duthie, Alex Griffin, Frankie Coulson, Max Croft, Kian Evans, Shay Wood, Thomas Rowbotham, Gene Steels, Ethan Watson, Codie Young, Shay Hackworth, Will Crannage, Nathan Bailey, Troy Horsley and Stevie Weldrake.