This year’s Arfon Jones Trophy was an event that really spoiled the competitors.
Taking place last Sunday at Colliers Park and in the esteemed company of Wrexham AFC’s legendary commentator Mark Griffiths, the showpiece was sure to be an enjoyable one for all involved.
The annual six-a-side tournament is the brainchild of North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones and coincides with the end of Hate Crime Awareness Week.
With hate crime figures increasing again this year and the visible incidents of racism and homophobia in football, this tournament sends a powerful message about the need to act against hate crime and put a stop to all forms of discrimination in sport and in society.
The tournament included the Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association All Stars, Bellevue FC, CLPW Community FC from Iolanda Banu Viegas’ Portuguese community group, the Wrexham Enterprise Hub, Saith Seren, Bellevue Against Hate Crime and a group of friends under the name FNF Originals.
Six young men showed what the Arfon Jones Trophy is all about as they agreed to play for the CLPW Community FC team who had been decimated in the week leading up to the tournament by unavailability and illness.
Steve Humphreys, Alex Szabo, Leo Goncalves, Jimmy Gilbert, Ioan Parry and Cameron Ramage stepped up to ensure that CLPW could still compete. Although thrown in at the deep end, they scored goals and were competitive in their games and earned everyone’s respect.
The teams were drawn into two groups and proceedings were overseen by referees Joao Da Silva and local PCSO Ryan Jones.
The results were all counted and added up by Tiffany Thain who stepped up last minute as a makeshift secretary to ensure the smooth running of the tournament.
Local commentating legend Mark Griffiths took over the North East Wales League Twitter account and went content crazy and local Councillor Marc Jones was on hand with his camera to capture every moment.
The volunteers on the day were the unsung heroes who made sure that the tournament was a success, otherwise it is just another day of football.
With a bye in the first round due to a non-attendance, technically it was CLPW Community FC who opened the scoring, being awarded a 3-0 win as their opponents hadn’t turned up.
Wrexham DSA All Stars were in action against Wrexham Enterprise Hub and the professional outfit turned over the Hub 4-0 setting the standard early in proceedings.
Bellevue FC had a tough encounter with CPD Saith Seren, prevailing 2-1 over a passionate and fighting Dragons team.
The second round saw the DSA All Stars play Bellevue Against Hate Crime, the tournament winners last season.
The All Stars took an early lead through René Pinard and despite incredible pressure from the Hate Crime team, managed to hold their one-goal advantage until the end.
Wrexham Enterprise Hub faced off against the FNF Originals team. The group of friends who met through a mutual love of the game put in one of the performances of the tournament as the Hub struggled with the pace and movement of the FNF attack.
Despite scoring twice the Hub were taken apart 7-2 in the highest scoring match of the day.
CPD Saith Seren continued their great form in a convincing 5-2 win over a spirited CLPW Community FC. The Dragons started the day wanting to bottom the group in order to watch the Liverpool game against Manchester United and suddenly found themselves at the top!
Round three saw disaster and elation in equal measure as the groups started to take an unlikely shape!
CPD Saith Seren took the bye against the absent team and the 3-0 automatic victory saw them cemented at the top of Group A.
Bellevue FC were also looking to top the group against the CLPW Community FC and put in an emphatic performance to win 6-1 with Jordan Wright closing in on the tournament golden boot as his total hit seven.
The FNF Originals faced off against Bellevue Against Hate Crime who put in another incredible performance. FNF got the early goal as a defence-splitting pass from Delwyn Derrick found its way to Nathan Evans whose unchecked run left him with just Bobby Gregory to beat.
The rest of the match was all the Hate Crime team as they had shot after shot against the FNF goal. Bodies on the line and some heroics from goalkeeper Jack Birch saw BAHC suffer another shock 1-0 defeat.
The last round of the group was a done deal in one group and all to play for in the other.
Bellevue FC’s bye against the missing team ensured 9 points for the boys in white and second place for Saith Seren without a ball being touched.
In Group B, Bellevue Against Hate Crime were looking to salvage some pride against Wrexham Enterprise Hub while group leaders Wrexham DSA All Stars were separated from the FNF Originals by a goal difference of 1 and both teams were eyeing up the final.
Pinard was on his best form for the All Stars, scoring with a back-heel past a stretching Birch, cheekily nutmegging Derrick, who was trying to block the shot.
FNF knew that only victory would do and pressed on to try and get back into the game. There were chances at both ends of the pitch, but Birch was on great form to keep the scoreline down and DSA’s keeper Lewis Hallam, was refusing to let his clean sheet go with iron gloves and nerves of steel.
As the clock ticked on, the risk of throwing the kitchen sink was all too clear as the ball was lumped clear to the feet of TNS prodigy Osian Williams who burst forward unmarked and slotted past Birch to seal it 2-0 for the All Stars.
Wrexham Enterprise Hub put in an incredible performance to get the early goal and Bellevue Against Hate Crime again found themselves a goal down and no way through.
The boys in yellow pressed hard to get something out of the game, but a magnificent defensive effort ensured that Bellevue Against Hate Crime bottomed the table, losing 1-0 in every match.
The third place play-off pitted the two second place finishers against each other for the final trophy, CPD Saith Seren finding themselves in a position they never expected, playing against FNF Originals who had looked strong all afternoon.
FNF struck early again with Nathan Evans moving onto 7 goals in total and level with Wright as the tournament’s top scorer and Delwyn Derrick turning provider for Bellevue team mate Tiago Ginja to become top assistant.
A third goal confirmed FNF as the top scoring team in the tournament and goalkeeper Birch was named player of the tournament by NEWFA chairman, John Mann.
Proving that you should never bet against the underdog, Saith pulled two goals back and the last five minutes saw FNF with every man back, kicking every clearance as far away as possible to ensure the win.
Bellevue FC faced a huge final against a DSA All Star team who had won every game and also kept a clean sheet in each and were definite favourites going in.
Matty Geddes was the latest goalkeeper undone by the quality of Pinard, who opened the scoring for the All Stars and continued his run of scoring in every match.
Bellevue had their chances at the other end, with Wright going close twice before Rich McNeil doubled the advantage for the DSA.
Bellevue continued pushing but Hallam wasn’t being beaten today and the match was settled by another goal from future star Osian Williams sending the first place trophy home with the All Stars.
Third place trophy was handed to FNF captain Birch by Cllr. Carrie Harper, second place to Bellevue captain Matt Geddes by NEWFA chairman Mann and Rich McNeil, son of Wrexham legend Dixie, received the winners trophy on behalf of the All Stars from Wrexham Mayor, Rob Walsh.
With so much happening in one afternoon, this report could only do a disservice to every team as it focuses on goals and talking points and not the character each side brought with them.
The All Stars were favourites because of their discipline and structure. They kept clean sheets because their defence ensured the keeper was never one on one, but they had the calmness to then build from the back smoothly.
Saith Seren never knew when they were beaten, scoring most of their goals late into matches because they never for a second believed they were out of it.
Bellevue Against Hate Crime were up there as favourites at the start of the day, they dominated possession in every game they played but just had a shift where nothing would ripple the net despite how well they performed.
CLPW’s makeshift team had an average age of 17 and yet still showed that they had heart, desire and a few goals in them, in games that were very much men against boys.
Bellevue FC only conceded two goals on their way to the final and never looked out of depth. Geddes put in a huge performance as keeper and captain despite playing while full of flu.
The Enterprise Hub were a strong team as well, they got drawn into a tough group, also their keeper was victim to some absolute top bin worldies and the scores just don’t give credit to the shift they put in.
It would be wrong not to mention how each team played their own way, from the All Stars liquid football to Saith’s never say die attack, too often the strikers take the credit.
All Star Andy Pierce said it right, there wasn’t one bad goalkeeper at the tournament, but listing scores never tells that story.
To summarise the Arfon Jones Trophy and the commitment of all those involved to peace, respect and enjoyment in football, this event can be summed up in one sentence.
In four hours, seven teams, totalling 51 players, played 11 matches, where 44 goals were scored, all in pursuit of one trophy that means more than just football… Not one single card was shown by the referees all afternoon. Together we can stop hate.