The Heineken Sunday Football League is as vibrant as ever.
Created a decade ago for casual players who wanted to keep fit in their favourite sport without too much commitment to training and high level of play, it has grown considerably and even boasts Premier League players. It is treated as a social league and that is certainly the case judging by how busy the bars are after matches.
Harry’s has been involved from the start and proven to be the league’s most successful side. On Sunday, they played Old Boys in the first leg semifinal of the CML Cup and won convincingly 5-1 at the TE McField Annex.
The second leg is on 14 April at West Bay’s Ed Bush Stadium. Floyd “Irons” McKenzie got the first two for Harry’s, while Dan Stuber added a brace, too, and Ric Agrella the last one.
Harry’s are the most decorated team in the Sunday league, having won it three times and the cup twice. They also did the double twice, in 2009–10 and 2011–12, while also winning the league in the 2008–09 season.
Captained by Chris Fenn, and with leading scorer McKenzie hitting 14 so far this term to be the league’s top marksman – although he missed a penalty on Sunday – Harry’s are still in with a shout for the league title, sitting third on goal difference behind Maples Revolution on 31 points. Leaders Triple Crown Wanderers are one point ahead.
Primo Castellan scored for Old Boys against Harry’s. Old Boys are bottom of the league, so their thin cup hopes are their only chance of glory this term.
Harry’s player-manager Mick Attlebury said: “The club was formed after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and names after our first sponsor Harry Cupid of Harry’s Bar, now the Ultra Lounge.”
Attlebury is pleased with the all-round organisation of the Heineken League and officials and his only sad moments have been “to see some good guys leave the Island”.
He is confident Harry’s can go through to the CML final. “It will be difficult for Old Boys due the goal difference,” Attlebury said. “There is no reason we can’t win the league either, if we stay focused.
“We’re having a good season, thanks to Ernie and Rodger of the Cotton Club for this season’s sponsorship and Jon Cubbon of Jaques Scott-Heineken, hence why we are known as the Green Army!”
Attlebury jokes that he is ready for bigger appointments. “As Sunday morning’s most successful team, Aston Villa’s manager Paul Lambert might be worried about me replacing him!”
Steven Henshaw is Old Boys the player-manager and the captain. Their leading scorer is Tommy Gribbin, who has six so far.
The Old Boys have been a part of the league since it started, playing socially and also in the indoor league.
“Our season has been getting better,” Henshaw said. “We haven’t any expectations of winning the league, just having a game on a Sunday morning.
“The high points for me as a manager is seeing everyone show up on a Sunday morning, even when most might be still feeling the effects from the night before. Our low points of the season is going to the pub after and it’s closed!”
Henshaw is realistic in his assessment of whether Old Boys can reach the CML final. “After last Sunday’s loss, we have a lot to do in the return leg, but we will be playing them at home next time, so will have the crowd behind us!
“The whole team would like to give a big shout out to our sponsor Knight Security for their sponsorship over the last two years and to the organisers for organising once again a good social league for anyone who loves to play the game.”