Title joy for Hucknall quartet after play-off drama

CHAMPIONS -- (from left), players Lewis Phillips, Sean Bird and Billy Platts with the team's coach, Neil Bird.
CHAMPIONS -- (from left), players Lewis Phillips, Sean Bird and Billy Platts with the team's coach, Neil Bird.

If you thought the Football League promotion play-offs at Wembley were exciting, wait until you read about this dramatic heart-stopper involving three teenage players and a coach from Hucknall.

Defender Lewis Phillips, striker Sean Bird and midfielder Billy Platts play for MDC (Match Day Coaching) FC in the Second Division of the Chad Mansfield Youth League. Neil Bird is their coach.

Remarkably, the season finished with MDC sharing an identical record at the top of the table with their arch rivals, Sutton-on-Trent, just one point ahead of Selston, whom both had beaten in their final fixtures.

The top two had 40 points from 18 matches, having won 13, drawn one and lost four. And so, to decide who would be crowned undisputed champions, they were forced into a title-deciding play-off match.

During the season proper, MDC had beaten Sutton 3-1 back in November, but lost a thrilling return fixture 4-3 in January. This time, a strong Sutton side were again formidable opponents, but the MDC lads delivered one last big performance to run out 2-0 winners and claim the silverware in a highly-charged, cup-final-like encounter, played in front of a bumper crowd at the Robin Hood ground in Edwinstowe.

Captain Platts collected the trophy and proud coach Bird praised every player, pointing out that the team had achieved the title in their first year together as a team.

“We set out in September with just one thing in mind, and that was to win the league, which is exactly what we have done,” he said.