Former Balham FC First team and Youth team captain, Joe Holland, who played for BBFC from the age of eleven, is doing incredibly well on his university soccer scholarship across the pond. For his latest triumph see their website. Away from university Joe was also in the league team of the season for Long Island Rough Riders in the summer Professional Development League (which is a kind of under 23s feeder league into the MLS).
While the younger BBFC age group squads have been on a months break in July the Balham FC First team have been in pre season working hard to prepare for the league campaign which started on August 15th. A seriously impressive 38 goals were scored and 9 conceded in an excellent seven game pre season programme. Notable scalps were taken as Balham, who won six out of seven, beat clubs higher up the football league ladder. The league itself started with a hard fought 0-0 draw away to Horsley, which was followed on August 22nd by a scorching 7-1 home win against NPL, on a scorching summers day.
Balham's first Youth team and First team keeper, Tom Jelliffe, is spreading the Balham word out east whilst hanging out with past and present Premier League stars. Tom, who is studying at Loughborough University is in Singapore on a six month internship working for Addidas. He's missing Balham and England but is having a great time, which isn't surprising if you get to schmooze with the Great Dane, Peter Schmeichel, who's your goalkeeping hero and other football notables such as, Mr Abbey Clancy, aka, RoboCrouch.
Balham rounded off a very successful seven match pre season programme with a resounding victory against highly rated Southern Amateur League side, Nottsborough. An own goal following a cross from Balham left back, Jake Henry, was the only score of the first half. The following forty-five minutes saw Eddie Luchford, who is regaining match fitness and sharpness following a year out of the game, score four to make it six in pre season for him. Balham have scored a very impressive thirty-eight in their seven game programme, conceding nine and played some lovely football. There are unfortunately no prizes or promotions for pre season however. It's all important preparation for the long, hard, league and cup campaign which begins on August 15th away at Horsley FC. Come on you Balham!
Balham's sixth pre season game against Leatherhead U21s proved to be another very useful outing on the 3G at Southfields Academy. Some of the football played was of the highest order and but for the Leatherhead keeper and some profligate finishing the win could have been more comfortable. Arsen Ujkaj opened the scoring with a sweet strike from the edge of the box, finishing a fine move. Left back Khalid Savage, who was excellent throughout, added a second and Eddie Luchford netted the third, all before half time. A wonderful left foot strike from Ollie Archard was the only goal scored in the second half but on another day it could have been a lot more. The goals scored and the football played were just what the doctor ordered but the most pleasing aspect of the win was undoubtedly the clean sheet, the only thing missing in what has been a top pre season to date.
We are all very sorry to be losing Patrick Walker at BBFC. Pat has put a huge amount of time and work into the club over many years, initially as a coach and manager and then on the Balham FC/Balham Blazers FC Committee as a Child Welfare Officer, Grants Secretary, Work Placement Scheme creator and co-ordinator, Physio Clinic creator and co-ordinator and Jack Petchey Awards Scheme co-ordinator. Needless to say Pat's shoes will be very difficult to fill. He is moving with his wife Geri and their new born son, Elliot, seen in his BBFC babygrow above, to Bristol, where, having qualified at St George's in Tooting, he will be working as a doctor. Everyone at the club thanks him enormously for all that he's done and wishes Pat, Geri and Elliot great success and happiness in the west country.
It was the turn of the first team squad to nominate their Jack Petchey Award winner and Harry Herbert was selected by his peers as the worthy winner. Pictured is Harry receiving the award from General Manager Greg Cruttwell. On presenting the award Greg remarked, "Harry has come into the Balham FC First team this season and been a revelation both as a person on and off the pitch and also as a player. He has performed at a consistently high level in a very successful league campaign, which resulted in Balham finishing in a promotion position in the Surrey Elite League. He is a natural leader who has led and organised his team in inspirational fashion, totally embracing the club's playing ethos and winning the admiration of all, especially those who train and play regularly with him." From everyone at Balham, congratulations Harry.
Congratulations to long standing club coach Ollie Kanner for receiving the Jack Petchey Leader Award for Balham Blazers.
The Leader Award was developed by the Jack Petchey Foundation to recognise the dedication and commitment of adult leaders who go the extra mile to support young people.
General Manager Greg Cruttwell paid tribute to Ollie's outstanding work "Ollie Kanner has been coaching at BBFC for over six years. He has put in an incredible amount of time working with many different age group squads developing and improving players and teams. He has coached, managed, run soccer camps and been instrumental in formulating and developing the ongoing coaching programme at BBFC. In addition to his coaching work, Ollie has also helped at the club in many other capacities behind the scenes. People such as Ollie, with a passion to help motivate and develop young footballing talent are worth their weight in gold. He is inspirational and a key and irreplaceable member of our set up." Pictured is Ollie receiving his award from General Manager Greg Cruttwell and fellow coach James Scott.
As part of the award Ollie also receives a £750 grant for the club. With the money he plans to enrol the help of Coerver coaching to tailor a coaching package with players selected from all squads (U11 - U17). Any remaining money will be put towards the purchase of a defibrillator for the club.
Congratulations Ollie on a fantastic achievement.
Balham's fifth pre season game, played at their ground share home at Leg O'Mutton Field, produced another good performance to beat co habitants Cobham 5-2 on Wednesday July 29th. Two first half goals from Jermaine Townsend and one from Jerome Boncoeur gave the boys from SW12 a 3-2 half time lead, which was added to after the break by Eddie Luchford and Richie Emmett, who has now scored five in his four games for the club. Balham also had a goal disallowed, Jake Henry, skipper on the night, hit the bar and the Cobham keeper pulled off two outstanding saves. Balham keeper, Alfredo Kuklinski, although called into action from time to time, had a quieter evening.
Balham put in their most impressive pre season performance thus far to come back from 1-0 down to beat top six Combined Counties Premier League side, Spelthorne Sports, in a humdinger on Saturday July 25th, at their ground in Middlesex. Goals from Eddie Luchford, playing his first game since returning from his gap year in Australia and new signing Richie Emmett, who now has four in three games, won the day. There were many contenders for man of the match, from new keeper, Alfredo Kuklinski, who pulled off some stunning saves, all the way through the fifteen players on duty, in what was a spellbinding performance in Spelthorne.
Having relocated to Dubai towards the end of the season, Balham First Team stalwart, Adam Hall, has been playing in the Dubai Amateur Football League (DAFL) for Dubai FC. A very well run club he says, not quite as good as Balham, but with five senior teams of varying ability. The first team play in the prem division and there are some serious players in the league (ex pros etc.) Adam, far right in the team pic above, got a couple games in at the end of the season for the first team. Apparently the pitches are amazing. His team played in an end of season cup competition and won it, playing on the Dubai 7s Emirates pitch in the final which is modelled on the Emirates Arsenal pitch. They then got into a 7-a-side summer league, where they played 36 games, Tuesday and Sunday, over 8 weeks, won 34, drew 1 and lost 1, all in 38+ degrees heat on 3g! His team capped it off by winning a champions league of all the 7-a-side leagues in Dubai. In short: eight weeks,
four trophies and most impressively of all very nearly a sun tan.
There's not a blade of grass in sight, as the picture above testifies, for Balham First Team skipper, Zak Elbekri, who is in Morocco for a month, which means doing most of his pre season in the sweltering heat. He was hoping to train with a team near his family home there but as they are still in season that hasn't been possible. He's managed instead though to play in local games and also every day on the beach. Sun, sea, sand and football - it's a tough life.
It's good to report that Our Man In Brazil, Julian Fuller, has had a great time out there on his year long placement from Aston University. He's played a lot of football too for his University team. Lots of tournaments, intense heat and a lot of passion, not surprisingly. His team made it to the University Cup Competition final but unfortunately with tempers flaring and two red cards - not our boy of course - they finished runners up. Julian, who is fourth from the right on the back row in the team pic above, is now on his way home to London via family in the USA and we all look forward to seeing one of Balham's finest young players in SW12 again before he heads north to Birmingham for his final year.
It was the turn of the Balham FC Youth Team to nominate one of their peers for the Jack Petchey Achievement Award and Jamal Bartley was the worthy winner. Pictured is Jamal receiving his award from Jack Petchey Coordinator Patrick Walker. After being nominated for the award Youth Team manager Greg Cruttwell said "Jamal has been an exceptional leader both on and off the pitch for our Southern Youth League Championship winning Under 18 team. Jamal is a fierce competitor who leads by example but, he is a totally honourable person. Despite being an extremely talented footballer, with huge potential, Jamal is as modest and humble as they come. As an inspirational captain, totally respected and admired by his peers, his leadership, along with his stellar performances on the pitch and his fantastic attitude and commitment to training, makes him special and has been a key factor in our U18 team's success"
Congratulations to Jamal.
Balham were in sizzling form on a sunny Saturday July 18th in their third pre season game, putting thirteen past Tooting & Mitcham Wanderers. The game started brightly with both teams playing well. A brilliant move from back to front saw Balham open the scoring which they then added to a further six times in the first half. Another six followed the break as Balham's young guns took on board the simple half time message to keep pushing, pressing and hitting the back of the net. The goals a plenty, many of them corkers, came from Jake Henry(2), Jamal Bartley(2), Luke Fenlon(2), Richie Emmett(2), Thomas Fosse(2), James Adebayo, Ollie Archard and Jermaine Townsend. The only frustrating blot on an otherwise peachy performance was a goal conceded when the score was 2-0. When you've scored so many at the other end it's difficult to be too critical but the aim in every game always has to be to keep a clean sheet.
Balham were two minutes away from beating Croydon Athletic on Wednesday July 15th. The pre season game against opposition two leagues higher was very even throughout. Balham took the lead in the first half when Tomasz Wocial converted a clear penalty. Croydon gained parity however just before the break. New striker, Richie Emmett, making his debut as a second half substitute looked to have scored the winning goal with a fine drilled finish from a Dan David assist but two lapses of concentration at the death meant the only downside in what was an extremely encouraging Balham performance was the unfortunate final 2-3 result.
Balham made a flying start to the new campaign in the first pre season game of 2015-16, against Chelsea Kickz, on Sunday July 12th. Four goals from last season's top scorer, Jerome Boncoeur and one a piece from James Adebayo, Jermaine Townsend and Tomasz Wocial, from the penalty spot, meant Balham ran out 7-2 winners on the 3g pitch at Southfields Academy.
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