(Photograph) - The roar of a crowd of 60,000 fans will be ringing in the ears of this team for quite a while. For it's not every day that an under-11 team gets to play at Old Trafford, home of Premier League champions Manchester United. So it's almost a detail that Wallands went out in the semi-finals of the English schools under-11 six-a-side contest.
(They drew 0-0 and lost on corners to the contest's joint winners, Headington school, Oxford, which drew with Clifton, York.) The finals and semis, five minutes each way, took place before the Manchester United v Sunderland game last month, with medals presented during half-time of the big match. The boys deserved their ovation, for in four rounds they had come through in a national competition that started with 8,000 schools. Wallands could also be nursing tomorrow's professional talent. For their youngest player, Steven Brinkhurst (eight), has just joined Brighton and Hove Albion's junior squad.
His mother, Angela, is chair of Wallands PTA and says her son would like to become a footballer. Sandy Everett, acting head of the 400-pupil school, says: "It is wonderful news or us. We have never got this far in a competition before. it was a particularly good team which had been playing together for several years." They are coached by Malcolm Sowter, grandparent of a former pupil, and a former Arsenal player himself. Wallands also has a competitive netball club and clubs for badminton, art and calligraphy, the last of which is run by Sandy Everett. Every pupil also learns to swim in a pool paid for by the PTA.
Snaps by Angela Brinkhurst
* The squad, from left: David Holley, Glenn Hunt, Simon Buxton, Andrew Wilkinson, Calum Parsons, Steven Brinkhurst, Joshua Lawrence, Vaughn Pritchard
* On our way to Manchester and the slogan to beat
* Former Fulham and Brighton player Stan Brown, left, points out to manager Malcolm Sowter that of the four teams that played in the semi-finals, three came away unbeaten
* Everything to play for: Wallands in navy, GlennHunt on the ball
* The English schools' FA hosts a dinner the night before the match
* Relax, it's a long journey: Josh Lawrence takes it easy
* This is it: the line-up on the pitch at Old Trafford at last