AFC Henley Celebrate 50th Anniversary

AFC Henley celebrated their 50th anniversary with a family fun day last Saturday centered around a football tournament for all the playing members.

On a very hot day, the first one of the year, 200 players across 8 age groups took part in a football tournament designed to be a little prelude to the Euros coming later this summer. Each player was placed into a team representing a major European footballing country and banded into their age group. The idea was to have each age group supporting other age groups to give it a whole club feel.

Some excellent football and some very close games (including a few penalty shootouts) eventually led to England running out the overall winners (maybe an indication of what is to come later this summer….)

The idea behind the tournament was to promote the clubs new branding and kit, which will be available to all the players in September 2024, but also to raise funds for the club and celebrate another great year for AFC Henley as we try and keep improving the club to make it accessible as a community club.

Sam Watkins who organised the day said, “A big thank you to A1 Group who sponsored the tournament and allowed us to give out prizes, medals and a trophy, The Howell Cup (named after Trevor Howell who has been involved with the club for 25 out of the 50years!”

“Alongside the football, we also had a football challenge inflatable, kindly donated to us by Shiplake College, which the players loved having a go at alongside a crossbar challenge.”

Food and beverages were all provided by local companies; Coffee Bee, Mediterranean Street Food, Henley Gelato, who run the Scoop Room in town, and the Henley Scouts, who were raising money themselves for their scout hut repairs.

Sam added “A hugely successful day and very well supported by all in Henley, including members of the Town and District Councillors and the new Mayor Cllr Rory Hunt.”

This will now be an annual tournament that we will look to expand and improve year on year.”

Toni Aitken who has been on the AFC Committee for 29 years said,  “I brought my son down at aged 10. John Hooper said to me, I see you’re always receiving cheques to Sacred Heart School where I was a Governor there for 15 years.  John asked me if I would join the committee and I was really quite chuffed as I was the only women in a committee of men.  I thought I would give it a try.  I thought an Irish woman coming from a very well known sports field in Ireland, rugby, football and athletics.  My father was one of Ireland’s big golfers.  Here I’m am still now!  I’m very proud that when John Hooper said to me we have an awards’ night coming up can you find me a player to give out the awards so I thought where I could see I could get one.  I went to Reading FC where I’m a season ticket holder.  I’m afraid all our players are away on holiday but I can offer you my son-in-law, her son-in-law was Brendan Rodgers and I had no idea who Brendan was.  He is now the manager at Celtic.  Brendan came along and met up with Trevor and I and he said what you want here is a soccer school and at that time our numbers were quite low.  So Trevor went over to speak to Reading FC community section and to do this day they are still here.  I feel very proud that Trevor and I founded the soccer school.  We have 600 kids now.  Reading FC’s coach Jack Woodley is an amazing guy for our club.”

Trevor Howell Char of AFC Henley said, “People don’t realise how long we’ve been here.  The club was founded in 1974 by Ken Downing.  It’s been a long journey.  I personally have been involved for the last 25 years since my oldest son was U7.  When he left I just carried on as I like to help build an organisation.  We’ve made a lot of progress. When we started we had about 8 teams and we now have 30.  We’ve got a group of new people coming in and it is time for me to leave and to hand over to a very competent group of people on the committee.  One of the highlights was we were voted grassroots club in Oxfordshire in 2021 and I personally was given Volunteer of the Year in Oxfordshire FA 2018.  On a personal level, I got invited to garden party at Buckingham Palace and I’m due to go next 21 May.  I should have gone last year but I got Covid. The important thing about that is the club has developed into a community asset which has been recognised in the garden party award.  It is not for services to football it is for services to the community and it is good to see that we are seen as a community asset.  Our whole policy is that it is about life skills for children, football is just medium and we think it is important that keeps going.  Who is going to be a professional football, we don’t know and the chances are remote but we want kids to learn how to play football properly, not focusing on winning but just playing  the game and learning how to play in a team and have a friendly and non threatening experience for everybody.”

Seona and Eric Jorgensen said, “Our two sons have been coming here since mini soccer school and they are now in  U11 and U13 teams.  It’s a great club and they put on lots of training during the week.  I think it’s great for the kids and great for the community.  The coaches are amazing and give up such a lot of their time.  We didn’t realise that the club was that old and they’ve got great facilities and they hope to get the 3G pitch soon.  It is hugely popular and it’s nice that our eldest son who goes to school outside of Henley still plays football with friends from his old school.”

French team led by Freddie Postlethwaite won the U9/U10 Age group
England team led by Rufus Clayton won the U11/U12 Age group
England team led by Luca Currie won the U12/U13 Age group
The whole England team across the 3 competitions won the Howell Cup, lifted by Luca Currie.

Photo credit Andrew Turner

 

1 comment
  1. Elizabeth Smith says:

    What fantastic news. My son played for Henley AFC and it’s thanks to the team that this was available to Tom and his school friends. I know Trevor and Toni and wish to send them thanks as well as congratulations!

    Reply

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