The Croydon Eagles are the Mind in Croydon and CPFC Foundation mental health football team. We’ve just completed our most successful season to date that ended with three trophies as well as hosting our first tournament.
The season began with a trip to Walton-on-Thames to compete in our first competition in the Surrey League we joined this year. Things couldn’t have started better in the Surrey Era for us as we put in a battling performance on the way to lifting the Surrey FA Community Cup. A brilliant achievement by all the squad with Jel Clifford bagging the winning goal in the final to win it for us.
We had set our stall out and let the rest of the Surrey League know we had arrived. This was our debut season and we were made extremely welcome, there was a really friendly atmosphere on the day and we were roundly applauded for our win – a gesture we really appreciated. Palace even arranged a victory parade with our trophy at Selhurst Park during the Leicester City Premier League match.
We then began our league campaign; all the guys were looking forward to seeing what the league had in store for us. We started strongly beating the reigning champions Kingston and things just got better as we surged onwards. After winning our first five matches everyone was beginning to feel optimistic about our chances of actually winning the league at the first attempt. That optimism proved well founded as we went on to win all our games and make it a league and cup double. For our player coach Paul Richards this was his first season in the role and you would have to say a near perfect start. Paul also ended up as top scorer and Players Player of the Season while Will Castle was voted Most Improved Player to go alongside his award from Surrey FA for most sporting member of the league. We would like to say a massive thanks to all at the Surrey League for making us so welcome.
We ended our brilliant season with perhaps our best achievement yet. For the second year we travelled down to the National Mental Health Football Therapy Tournament in Lewes with high hopes. All our team contributed to a monumental effort and despite losing our first game to Everton we then went unbeaten for the rest of the tournament coming up against Everton once again in the final who this time we beat 1-0 to lift the trophy, Tony Thompson netting the winner. The whole team raised their game and played brilliantly. Everton were billed as pre-tournament favourites as one of the best mental health teams in the country which tells its own story.
We also hosted our first tournament at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre which was a great success with The Croydon Eagles losing finalists to Brixton.
We couldn’t be too downhearted though; this season has been an amazing journey for all of the squad. It has lifted everyone’s spirits; all of us have seen pretty tough times, experiencing varying mental health issues but the Croydon Eagles and all of the Active Minds activities help massively to improve mental wellbeing.
The football programme is a massive success so well done guys one and all and here’s to defending our titles next season.
With special thanks to Peter Rogers (Mind in Croydon), Michael Harrington (CPFC Foundation), Paul Richards, James Creegan and everyone who’s played for or supported us; played against us; reffed us or organised anything.
If you’d like to join us please contact Peter at Active Minds
t: 020 8253 8206
by Tim Matthias
Note: Tim received the Croydon Eagles Managers award this season for his long service and dedication to the Eagles cause.
This write up has also been featured on the Crystal Palace Football Club Foundation website at: http://cpfcfoundation.org/make-ours-a-treble/