Pinoy football XI fails in promotion bid in UK

by Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 21 2011 10:41 AM | Updated as of May 22 2011 07:10 AM

The United Kingdom's first Pinoy amateur football team, the Philippine Football Club (PFC), crashed to a 5-3 defeat, effectively ending this season's promotion bid to the Premier Division of the West Hertfordshire League.

With one game remaining in Division One of the West Herts League, PFC was sitting in 3rd place with 35 points, one point behind Hemel Hempstead Rovers Reserves. To guarantee promotion to the Premier League next season, PFC had to claim the 2nd spot by winning and taking all 3 points from their final game of the season against rival Aldenham, who was in 4th place with 34 points.

In a season defining encounter, PFC and Aldenham clashed on Saturday, May 14 at Aldenham's home ground.

As soon as the whistle blew, PFC shot out of the blocks and gained a 2-0 advantage within the first 15 minutes of the match. However, Aldenham fought back to take a 3-2 lead before the half-time break.

The second half continued at the same pace, but the team of British Pinoys was caught napping defensively and was punished for it.

PFC Player and Caretaker Manager Keith Townsend attributed the loss to a lack of concentration and not controlling the game.

“I think there are several things that contributed to the final outcome of the game. After going 2-0 up so quickly I think the team relaxed and sat back a bit too much, which led to Aldenham getting back into the match and gaining momentum. Once a team has momentum it's easy to make mistakes and I think as easy as it is to make a mistake, we made too many little ones that eventually cost us,” Townsend said.

However, he did praise Aldenham for the way the team played this season.

“Aldenham are a good footballing team and if you look over the course of the whole season, then there is an argument to suggest that they deserved to get promoted. After all they were 2nd in the league for most of the season”, he added.

PFC's finishing position is now 4th place in the league. Following their final game, Townsend revealed that the players were bitterly disappointed.

“The entire team including myself felt gutted and distraught at first. Anyone would be after coming that close and being beaten at the final hurdle. Now that the team and myself have had some time to reflect on the situation, we are coming to terms with not getting promoted. It hurts of course but the important thing is even though we may be down right now, we certainly aren't out,” Townsend said

Despite the loss, Townsend believes the squad picked up some valuable experience this season and commends the players for standing together when times were tough. At the start of the 2010-2011 season, the club was rocked by the departure of three key individuals: founder Leo Jensen, and PFF (Philippine Football Federation) coaches Norman Parkin and Steve Conroy.

“There are many things that have been positive this season. Many people judge success and character by the trophies won and the manner in which they were won. However, no team in the entire league has had to endure what we have had to this season,” Townsend said.

“After losing the management near the beginning of the season it would have been easy for the players and myself to walk away from this situation and give up, but no-one did. Everyone chose to carry on and fight for something they believe in, and I feel that that is more important than winning any cup or league. The character of the team has been revealed and each person knows they have team mates willing to go the distance for them,” he added.

PFC was created in 2008 with the aim of giving UK-based Pinoys a chance to play competitive football together against other nationalities in an amateur league. The club's long term aim was to produce, spot, or put forward talent that could eventually be considered for the Azkals or local teams in the Philippines.

Looking to the future, PFC is now setting its sights on pushing for promotion once again next season.

“Every team next season will be looking to cause us problems and all of them have the potential to be a threat. If we can keep improving and bring into next season what we achieved this season, then I would say that our chances are very positive and promotion will definitely be on the cards,” Townsend said.

He also revealed an aim to create a PFC reserve team.

“As I've said before, I have 19 players in the squad and not all of them can play. A reserve squad would give these players the opportunity to get game-time and stay sharp. It will increase our club numbers as well as the number of Filipinos playing football.

“A reserve squad would also increase the competition for places and that can never be a bad thing,” Townsend said.