An East Yorkshire college football team has reached the last 16 in the country for the first time in its history.
The team of primarily 16-year-old students booked its place with a second place finish in the Association of Colleges (AoC) ECFA Premier League, Group 2. With the top two sides in each of the six Category 1Leagues progressing, as well as the four best third-placed sides, it is now down to the final 16 in the country.
Bishop Burton will play the Strachan Football Foundation away in Rugby, Warwickshire, on Wednesday (14th March) for the right to go through to the last eight.
Head of Football James Bennett said he is incredibly proud of his players and is delighted with the progress they have made over the course of the season.
He said: “This is the first time Bishop Burton has ever got to this level. The team only lost one league game all season, out of 14, accumulating 28 points in the end. It is a real feather in the cap of the college to get this far.
“The basis was set around a lot of work on the defence and the structure of the team at the start of the season. As the season has gone on we have improved how we have played in possession. We’ve also scored a lot more goals recently.
“For me, it has been the character in the group that has been the main thing. There has been a real desire not to get beaten and a real willingness to learn, in terms of taking on information from us as coaches.
“A lot of it comes back to recruitment and getting the right personnel in, including the right characters.
“In terms of recruitment to our sports academies, we have gone more down the route of making sure we have got the right characters, rather than just how they have performed on the pitch. It is about the whole package of them as people.”
James admits it will be a difficult match against a “big, physical side”, but said the future looks bright for the Bishop Burton team.
“We are up against a good outfit,” he said. “They are a big, physical side and their team is full of third years, whereas 10 of our starting 11 are first years. So it will be tough but the lads have already done brilliantly well to get to this stage.
“Also, because the majority of this group are first years, they could stay together for the next two years and become a really strong team. It is certainly looking very positive.”