Following SMJFL grading, the team formerly known as U10 Yellow were moved across to Blue and pooled together with Team Curtis. While it was inevitable the two teams would eventually go head to head, the two sets of coaches were faced with this reality earlier than expected following the release of Round 6 fixtures – Hampton Rovers AFC Nelson against Hampton Rovers AFC Curtis at Castlefield at 10:10.
Immediately the marketing department went into overdrive. “Hampton Blues Showdown” – no, too adversarial. “Hampton Blues showdown” – still adversarial. Does Fox Footy do Pay-per-View? Commemorative t-shirts and beanies? Could we charge for attendance? And then the clear heads of the coaches spoke up – this was just another week, another game, and an opportunity to reinforce that “we not me” isn’t just about individual to team, but also team to club.
As the players arrived at Castlefield on Sunday, the U10 Reds were in full flight against Beaumaris. The players made their way to the change-rooms, Team Curtis to the unfamiliar away rooms. The energy from both rooms palatable. It was just another game but there was something special about this one.
The final siren for the Reds game was a signal for the two teams to emerge from their rooms. Both teams lined up, side-by-side at the home gate, and were greeted by a guard of honour from the Reds. A quick huddle photo to capture the moment – and then it was business as usual.
What followed was four quarters of exciting and spirited football. The ball flowed from end-to-end with slick passing by hand and foot. There were big tackles from both teams. There was desperate wrestling on the ground for the ball, and there was mud. Oh – there was mud!
At the final siren, the two Hampton Rovers Blue teams exchanged three cheers, shook hands and walked as a squad to the home rooms. Arm in arm the two teams sang the song loud and proud – every boy sporting a smile!
In the end it wasn’t a Showdown, it was a Showcase. A showcase of two very evenly matched teams. A showcase of the riches of talent in the Hampton Rovers U10 squad. A showcase of the player development over the past couple years. A showcase of the club values – Teamwork, Passion, Fun and Respect.