Club Albion - Year in Review
Club Albion - Year in Review08 Nov 2022
“They’ve Only Gone and Done It Again!” By Cyrill Arzner
The season 2021-22 was a historical one for HKFC Albion. Having been the first team in Yau Yee league history to win the double in 20/21, Albion managed to repeat the feat, winning the league and cup again! Not only that, but they became the first team ever to go unbeaten for a full campaign.
SAVE THE DATE
The HKFC Men’s 1st Team play their first HKFA BOC Premier League game of the season against Lee Man on the 13th November at 4:30pm on the Main Pitch. We are aiming to maximise the attendance and the noise to support the team as much as possible. Keep an eye out for more notices in the Soccer Section Chairman's Weekly Newsletter and the Junior Soccer messages in the lead-up to the game.
Michael Hampshire led the scoring charts with 23 goals, while new signings Matthew Keefe and Matt Zoeller weren’t too far behind with 17 each. In a remarkable season, the core of the Albion team started the process, before disruptions to the season meant Albion finished the season with a completely different look. The end result was the same however, and the trophy cabinet at HKFC keeps filling up with trophies!
The league campaign started slowly, with the hangover from the previous years’ double seemingly still at play. Albion were held to a 1-1 draw against Spartans with Thomas Neuraz opening the scoring before they conceded a last-minute equaliser. Albion quickly got into their stride however, with 8 wins on the bounce. Trips to Kings Park were the highlights of this run. A tough 3-1 win over KCC stood out, with Kevin Flores, Christian Balka and Hampshire in the goals. While a 14-0 demolition of Maccabi was another standout in which Keefe and Hampshire both bagged hat-tricks.
The fixture list meant December would be a telling month. Albion lined up against Wanderers, GAS and Spartans before Christmas. The first encounter with Wanderers was always going to play a part in the destination of the title and although Albion went one down, they fought back through a fine Adrian Worth strike to make it 1-1 at the finish. GAS were put to the sword in uncompromising fashion with an 8-0 win (Zoeller with the hat-trick this time against his old club) before a crucial game against Spartans on the 19th December. Despite Albion going two up thanks to a brace from Zoeller, Spartans came back to make it 2-2 which meant Albion went into the break 2 points behind rivals Wanderers.
This break lasted longer than expected...As Covid restrictions took over HK, football was suspended for almost 5 months. By the time play resumed, the landscape had changed. Stalwarts like Captain Tom McGillycuddy and Calum Erskine had departed. Behind by two points, and missing such influential players, the season was in the balance. Gaffer Nick Day was never going to give up easily however, and pulled a masterstroke by signing the Dujardin brothers, Remi and Alex. On the restart, Albion went after it and beat KCC Knights 14-0 with four for Hampshire and a brace for Fiachra McArdle.
Amazingly, Albion went on another 9-game winning streak to seal the league title. The clincher in the run was the 2-0 victory over club rivals Wanderers. With the Dujardin brothers at the back and old-timers Albin Brion and Adrian Worth in the middle, Albion had enough quality to see it home. Back-to-back league titles was cause for much celebration in the Sportsman’s in the sweltering heat of June.
It wasn’t over yet though. The Yau Yee league, desperate to finish all competitions, proposed finishing the cup in July. Madness, some thought. Shall we even compete? There was a double to defend however. Despite the majority of the squad, Manager Nick Day and Coach Dani now overseas on long-awaited holidays, Albion rallied the troops and summoned some old-timers to help out. Cyrill Arzner took up the reigns and the responsibility to lead the squad for the almost impossible final tasks. Gathering some Albion legends like Amro Abbas, Jamie Milne, Ned Millington Buck and Craig Tuckerman pulled on the kit once more.
Colloids were first up in the quarters and in what was to be the story of the cup run, Albion fought like warriors to defend their goal before the sharp-shooting instincts of Keefe got them the victory. Azzurri in the semi-final was another battle, but Keefe again with a brace was the difference and incredibly, Albion had made the final with old rivals Spartans.
With barely a team already, the Poon brothers Ashley and Arnold were struck down with illness on the eve of the game. Mission impossible became even more than that. Spartans came out like a train and peppered Cyrill Arzner’s goal but to no avail. Despite 17 corners, Albion’s doggedness kept them in and then against the run of play, Albion came up trumps to put them one up. Spartans quickly equalised but they never seemed to have the conviction to get the winner, and it was left to that man Keefe to win it against his old club with a cool finish.
A phenomenal end to a remarkable season. A cliché maybe, but the mantra ‘once Albion, always Albion’ rang true as spirit and togetherness won out. Albion’s in HK and dotted around the world beamed from ear-to-ear as another double had been landed. Vice-Captain and legend Adrian Worth, a cornerstone of the whole campaign, deservedly lifted the trophy in the Kowloon night sky and the celebrations continued back to the island in the early hours.
A double double, could it be a triple double this year?