The final of the Sussex W J Jewell Trophy (Under-12s) is due to take place on Sunday 7 May 2023 between Hollingbury Hawks Colts and AS Eastbourne.
Hollingbury Hawks Colts vs. AS Eastbourne
Sussex W J Jewell Trophy (Under-12s) Final
Date: Sunday 7 May 2023
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
Hollingbury are coming to the end of an incredible season, leading the Under-12s Division One of the Mid Sussex Youth Football League. Yet what makes this more impressive is that they are yet to lose a game, a record that manager John Seeney is resolute on keeping.
“Myself and Kingsley, the Assistant Manager, coach the boys, and we’re determined to try get through the season undefeated as much as we can,” said Seeney.
“At the time, back at the beginning of the season, obviously we didn’t want to lose any games, but we weren’t planning on going unbeaten.
“But to have come this far, we really want to make sure that the number of losses stays at zero.”
The Hawks have enjoyed a remarkable season so far, as shown by their 5-2 semi-final triumph against Horsham. But the season's high point was a tie rather than a victory.
On 27 November 2022, Hollingbury were part of a 3-3 thriller against fellow league challengers Hastings United, a game Seeney sees as the pivotal point of their season.
“We drew with Hastings 3-3, and that left a bit of a bitter taste for the boys. They were a bit angry with themselves.
“From that moment on, you can see there was a real change in their attitude in terms of how much they realised they have to actually work to keep going and keep pushing.
“I think that was important the way the boys reacted, and they really pushed on from that point on.”
Seeney is no stranger to the County Cup Final experience. He was part of the Bevendean Athletic Reserves side that defeated AFC 2015 on penalties to capture the 2016 Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup trophy.
This is a momentous occasion for Seeney and his young Hawks side, who will be playing in their first County Cup Final.
“It’s the boys’ first County Cup Final so they’re super excited,” he said, “we’ve just been taking each game as it comes, and now we’ve got to the final, it’s just going to be about keeping that focus.”
However, standing in their way is an AS Eastbourne team that Hollingbury are not only familiar with, due to playing in the same league as them, but also through their reputation in this tournament.
“Positionally, they’re going to be fantastic. They’re not going to give us a second on the ball and we know full well that they’ll be at their best for the final.
“They’re technically very good. Whenever you talk about teams in the league, All Stars are always mentioned for sure, and we know we’ve got to be at our best to get the right result.”
For AS Eastbourne manager, Max Thompson, he’s well aware of the dangers that the Hawks will pose come Sunday afternoon, but for him and the rest of the club, right now it’s all about the pride they have in the boys for making it to this position.
Of course, it wasn’t an easy journey for Eastbourne, but for Thompson, that just makes getting the final that bit more special.
“I’m so proud of all the boys for the work they’ve put in to get us to where we are,” said Thompson, “after overcoming LUCA in the semi-final the way they did in such a tough game, they now just can’t wait for Sunday!”
In the Under-12s Division One of the Mid Sussex Youth Football League, Eastbourne finished the campaign second, pipped by Hawks to the top spot.
“The boys have done really well throughout the season to get so high up the table,” said Thompson, “it’s been a tough season at points, but they pushed through and deserve all the praise they’re getting.
“This side really plays together as a team, and there aren’t any stand out players, it’s all one unit and one really tight group.”
For Thompson, coming back to AS Eastbourne as a coach was an offer he couldn’t turn down, having played for the side himself, joining when he was only six years old.
“I’ve only been coaching for about a year-and-a-half, so for Anthony [Story] to give me the role with the under-12s it meant a great deal.
“For me personally it’s been a real achievement to have helped the boys to get the final and I’m just really proud of them and the hard work they’ve put in.”
However, Thompson knows that his side are going to have to be at their best if they’re going to get a result against the Hawks and take back the trophy, they last won in 2019, when they beat Withdean Youth 5-0.
“It’ll definitely be a good test and a good game,” he said, “for the boys and their development it’s a great experience for them, so I hope we’re able to push through and get the win.”
With that in mind, what message does Thompson have for his players ahead of the big day?
“I’d say to them to do what they’ve been doing all season, giving 100% effort, and to remind them to enjoy the experience and make their families proud!”.
Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):
£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£1.00 Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex W J Jewell Trophy (Under-12s) please contact:
T: 01903 753547