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Kingstonian vs Hendon
Wednesday 18th April 2012
Imber Court
Final Score: 2-0 Hendon
Attendance: 344

Picture the scene. A long and tiring day. Cold, lashing down with rain, lure of a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final on TV and my comfy sofa calling. So what do I do? Head down to Imber Court for the London Senior Cup Final… there really was only one winner.

The London Senior Cup has some fantastic history behind it. Originating 130 years ago, the competition, open to all teams in the London area has been won by some of the biggest teams in English football, including Arsenal and Wimbledon.

This year, the final was contested by two Ryman Premier sides. Kingstonian – a club that last won the cup in 1987 and Hendon, who has more recent experience, featuring in four of the past six finals. The two sides had only met in the league just four days before… Hendon winning by the odd goal in three. With two evenly matched sides, there was no clear favourite to win.

London Senior Cup FootballHendon vesus Kingstonian in the London Senior Cup Final

Even though the rain poured and football on TV (which really can affect attendances), supporters from local side Kingstonian were plentiful and in good voice. Those travelling from Hendon were less so, but those who did make the journey sang their hearts out. The final was also well covered from a pictorial sense with no less than four pitchside photographers, including myself.

London Senior Cup Football

With my camera and myself taking a battering from the elements, I positioned myself under one of the covered terraces, just out of reach of the rain. From here, I was able to begin capturing the action.

Shooting sports under artificial light requires a ‘fast’ lens – one with a wide open aperture. At least f/2.8 is required to capture decent action shots, as you need to keep your shutter speed as fast as possible to avoid unwanted blur. I have two lenses that fit the criteria – a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II and a 50mm f/1.8. I opt for the 70-200 as I also need the focal range to cover the whole pitch. It’s often the lens of choice for sports photographers. I also opt to shoot in RAW format, as the flexibility of increasing exposure levels in post-production pays off in the final images.

London Senior Cup Football

Both teams began by trying to suss each other out and were cautious in their approach. Neither side wanted to give anything away – especially an early goal. If this was a league game, you would have thought that Hendon were playing for a draw, content to play it around their back four without really testing K’s. The only real attack of note crashed off the post only for the rebound to be sent skywards from around 5 yards out by Casey McLaren.

Both sides created half chances but nothing guilt-edged. The first real threat came from K’s striker Bobby Traynor, who, from a Gary Macdonald flick, headed the ball only to see Hendon’s keeper, Berkley Laurencin brilliantly tip the ball onto the crossbar and out for a corner.

London Senior Cup FootballKingstonian striker Bobby Traynor hits the crossbar with his header

By now, Kingston were on top and their ‘12th Man’ – the supporters – were in full song, including a rather strange rendition of Duck Sauce’s ‘Barbara Streisand’, replacing the actress and singer’s name with that of Mackem Manager Alan Dowson.

London Senior Cup FootballKingston Faithful

For all of K’s pressure, half-time came with the game goalless. The second half saw Hendon keep to their well-disciplined plan impeccably, passing the ball well on the ever-increasingly slippery surface. With a decent amount of possession and Kingstonian chasing shadows, Hendon finally broke the deadlock on 56 minutes. Scott Shulton laid the ball off for Darren Currie to brilliantly volley home from just inside the box. K’s stopper Rob Tolfrey stood no chance.

London Senior Cup FootballDarren Currie opens the scoring for Hendon

Hendon doubled the score 15 minutes later with an exquisite lob over Tolfrey from Jack Mazzone who ran off celebrating before the ball had even crossed the line, knowing how perfect his touch was.

London Senior Cup Football

Jack Mazzone flicks the ball over Rob Tolfrey (not pictured) to make it 2-0

London Senior Cup Football

Celebrating before the ball’s crossed the line? That’s just cheeky
London Senior Cup FootballJack Mazzone celebrates in front of the Hendon faithful

The Kingston support were unusually quiet by this time and the symbolism of the rain pouring down on their supporters on the uncovered terrace wasn’t lost on me.

London Senior Cup Football

Kingston attempted to claw themselves back into the game, but with clinical finishing evading their frontmen and Hendon’s keeper Laurencin in fine form, it was to be Hendon’s night.

London Senior Cup Football

It has to be said, that the better team prevailed on the night and celebrations with the fantastic old trophy began on-pitch with the usual showering of champagne and collecting medals. Snapping celebratory pictures in driving rain under floodlights isn’t ideal at all and few shots came out as I wanted. However, I was able to salvage some reasonable captures.

London Senior Cup Football

Finally – congratulations to Hendon… London Senior Cup Winners 2012. They’re getting rather accustomed to this competition.

The full set of photos can be seen on my Flickr page.

Author – Stuart Tree

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