School Events



One of our excellent bands, "The Many”, have been selected to perform at Music for Youth's Regional Festival in March. Also, during the Caradoc House assembly they were recorded by MicroVideo UK for a New Music competition in taking place in July. Well done!



English Schools Football Association

Premier League Small Schools National Final – Monday 24th April

Gordon’s School, Surrey Vs Church Stretton School


I have been asked to write a few words to summarise the achievement of our Year 11 football team who have just been crowned national football champions. It’s difficult to express how proud we all are of them. These bunch of players have done something truly special and created history in little old Church Stretton.

125 schools from around the country entered the competition meaning that the winners would need to win 7 games in a row to be crowned champions of England. Having been knocked out of the tournament at the quarter final stage in Hull last year the players were keen to launch one last campaign in their final year at the school. What a campaign it was.

Round 1: The journey began back in September with an away trip to Sundorne School, now known as The Shrewbury Academy. A 6-0 win on a warm September evening set the tone for the coming season and filled us all with hope.

Round 2: Another away trip to Lakelands, Ellesmere awaited us in round 2, and although I was not available, Mr Longhurst stepped in and witnessed another commanding performance. The game ended 3-0 and ensured Church Stretton were in the hat for round 3. Things were going well.

Round 3: As Christmas approached Alcester Grammar School visited us for our first home tie of the competition. The players often refer to our school as ‘The Fortress’ when they discuss home and away ties. Although it’s not the finest playing surface we are proud of our school and have grown used to playing the bumps and bobbles. We have an excellent home record over the last 5 years and a strong 2-0 win put us into the last 16. Three games played, 11 goals scored, 0 goals conceded. Our confidence was building.

Round 4: Anthony Gell School, Matlock were up next and they visited ‘The Fortress’ on the 6th January, our first game of 2017. Although we had been fairly comfortable in the first three games the increase in quality of the opposition was clear to see. We conceded our first goals of the tournament and for large periods of the game it wasn’t clear who was on top. Looking back this was one of our best attacking performances and we ended up winning the game 5-2. I still remember the opposition manager’s words after the game “You have a good side there, I will watch how far you go with interest”. Wise words indeed.

Round 5: The ¼ finals were next, and with it an 8 hour round trip to Louth, Lincolnshire. Despite the 9am departure and a 4 hour journey the boys were in great spirits as we travelled on a glorious February day. The thought of missing a whole day of lessons probably helped morale a little, but I was fearful that the journey might leave us a little heavy legged. How wrong could I be? We scored after 10 seconds and never looked back. Although we initially sat back on our 1-0 lead our 2nd half performance was outstanding. We smiled all the way back to Shropshire with a 5-0 win. I had to buy 16 ‘McFlurries’ after making a foolish promise during tutor time the day before. The expense was worth it. Onto the semi-finals, “

Please let it be at the Fortress……”.

Round 6: Our pleas fell on deaf ears. We had to travel to Liverpool to play Wayne Rooney’s old school, De La Salle Academy. De La Salle have a good record in this competition and we knew that to make the final we would have to be at our best. We delivered. In a heated and physical match our players ran out 4-0 winners in a hostile environment. I couldn’t have been happier with the way our players conducted themselves. They were both professional and brilliant in equal measures. We waited until we were on our bus before we celebrated, with hearts pumping all the way to our next McFlurry stop. We had done it. Church Stretton School had made the final. 6 Games played, 25 goals scored, 3 goals conceded. Wow!

The Final:

So the scene was set. The Manchester Regional Arena was our venue and on Monday 24th April, Our squad arrived to school in shirt and tie for a historic day of football. Although we were slightly disappointed not to be playing in the Etihad itself, the prospect of a players function in the chairman’s lounge after the game was an exciting thought.

At 12.30pm we boarded a very full players and family coach and set off for Manchester. Our new white and navy kit was waiting for us at the stadium, a freebie from the Premier League for reaching the final, designed by the payers themselves. It was neatly folded in the changing rooms in number order, another nice touch from the ESFA who were making us feel like the national finalists we were. As we were taking the field for the warm up we were further boosted as a sea of Strettons finest descended on the stadium. Four full supporter’s buses had left school 45 minutes after the players and their arrival was a huge boost to all of us, particularly as Gordon’s School only had a following 20 to 30 strong. 220 Vs 30 was certainly advantage Stretton, and in my mind we were already one nil up.

Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to a delay in getting into the changing rooms. However, Nick Cole and I were happy with our warm up and we travelled back into the changing rooms for a final team talk. Nick coach’s lots of the boys on a weekend as Church Stretton Magpies manager. He is also the father of our star defender Matt Cole and it was good to have him alongside us in the dressing room. In the changing room we talked about having no regrets. We wanted to make sure that after 80 minutes of football we would not look back and wonder what could have been achieved. We were confident and we wanted to leave it all out on the pitch. Win or lose we were going to have a right go. The noise as we left the changing room was deafening. We didn’t hear anything from Gordan’s School. In my mind we were now two nil up.

Finally, it was time to begin, and what a start it was. 15 seconds into the game Archie Austin won the ball on the left hand side of the pitch. He worked to ball to James Hill who took one touch and delivered a dangerous ball into the box. The goalkeeper was reluctant to come out and Owen Holdsworth pounced to slide the ball into an empty net. 15 seconds into a national final and Church Stretton were winning. The 250 fans (including parents) went wild and the boys celebrated with a mixture of excitement and disbelief. The game restarted and over the next 10 minutes Gordon’s school started to exert more control on the match. Matt Ashley and Captain Jack Leask were often outnumbered in the middle of midfield and a swirling diagonal wind was making it difficult to get out of our half. Our goalkeeper Natty Marston had to be very alert and was becoming increasingly busy as Gordon’s school began to press and pick up more second balls. Ellys Brayne was seeing plenty of action down the left side of our defence but alongside Matt Cole, Tom Perkins and Mike Sneddon the defence was holding strong and coping with the majority of the pressure that Gordon’s were applying. Despite Gordon’s applying more pressure we were still very dangerous in attack. James and Owen were seeing plenty of ball and the Gordon’s defence didn’t seem at all comfortable with Owen’s pace and James’ strength and vision. Our front two have been a major feature of our success this year and they complement each other perfectly. Josh Murphy was also seeing plenty of ball on the right hand side of the field. Josh also has plenty of pace and he was overlapping Owen with some regularity as the half progressed. On 15 minutes Gordon’s pressure finally told. Some scrappy play in the midfield saw Gordon’s find a pass to their striker who turned sharply and fired past Natty from 7 yards. 1-1 and at that point I don’t mind admitting that I was a little concerned about the amount of 2nd ball Gordon’s school were picking up. Nick and I discussed dropping James back into an advanced midfield position to help Jack and Matt who were picking up 3 players between them. Just as we were about to communicate this to James the HH (Holdsworth and Hill) partnership struck again. Josh and Owen combined well down the right and Owen drove at the back four. After beating two players Owen unselfishly supplied James with the ball who neatly passed the ball into the net off the right hand post. 2-1 to Stretton. James did as he was instructed and as soon as he dropped into a midfield 3, Jack Leask and Matt Ashley found their stride. The halftime whistle sounded with us firmly on top.

At halftime we talked about staying strong and keeping to the game plan. The boys were positive and no one was struggling with injuries, so the same starting line-up took the field for the 2nd half. Our noisy crowd were happy to see us again and from the whistle we were straight on attack. A feature of our success this year has been our strength in depth. There is a lot of quality on our subs bench and the boys never complain about how much game time they get. They are all about the team, so when Josh Murphy went down with cramp after 45 minutes, we were happy to send Aiden Spurling on in his place. After 50 minutes Natty had a rare touch of the ball and decided to unleash one of his trademark huge kicks. Owen knew exactly what was about to happen and gambled on a Gordon’s mistake. The Gordon’s defence misjudged the kick and Owen raced forward to flick the ball past the hapless keeper. 3-1 Stretton. More chances soon followed. Archie Austin with a speculative 25 yard effort and Jack Leask with a close range header. James Hill displayed more of his footwork when he beat 2 players down the left side of the pitch only for him to tackle himself with the keeper to beat. Lewis Parkes entered the field as left back to replace the excellent Mike Sneddon and when our warrior Matt Ashley went down with cramp we unleashed Josh Chard into the game. It wasn’t long before the Stretton fans saw another goal. Jack passed a dangerous ball into the path of James Hill who was cynically scythed down as he raced towards the goal. A penalty was awarded and although Owen needed one more goal to complete his hatrick the job was left to Captain Jack Leask. He stepped up with confidence and dispatched the ball into the left side of the goal. 4-1 and we were nearly there! There was time enough for us to see the popular Umar Ahmad enter the fray and Luke Leonard offered us more width and pace, particularly with his new streamlined haircut. The final whistle eventually sounded and there were jubilant scenes as some of our pupils entered the field to congratulate the players. The players were clearly ecstatic and I was pleased that Alistair ‘Messi’ Stafford and Oscar McLaren could also join us in the dugout. They were not allowed to be named substitutes due to the five sub ruling, but they have played a part in our fantastic season and deserved to be standing there with us.

All that remained was for us to travel to the Etihad with family members in tow, to eat and drink in the Luxury of the chairman’s lounge. It was a beautiful setup and the food tasted all the better with winners medals around the players necks.  It was the perfect end to a perfect season, and a fitting finale to 5 years of working with these players. A once in a career group of players who are great mates on and off the field.

Boys, it’s been a pleasure working with you. Congratulations and Good Luck.

Mr T.Ward