Shropshire Star

Shropshire stars have their sights set on national glory

Mary Webb School have put Shropshire on the map with a sensational run to a national football final.


Teacher Dave White’s team will look to add the English Small Schools Football trophy to their cabinet when the year eight side head to The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion, to contest the showpiece final in May.

They will face either Gaynes School, from Havering in London, or St James Senior Boys’, from Ashford in Surrey.

It has been an incredible run to the final for the Pontesbury-based secondary school outfit, having progressed through six rounds including a narrow 2-1 semi-final victory over Hymers College, from Hull.

Their journey began in September and has seen them beat county rivals Oswestry School 9-0 and Chester’s Blacon High 4-1, before a stunning 7-1 win at The De La Salle Academy in Liverpool – Wayne Rooney’s former school – in December.

Wolverhampton Grammar School were thrashed 6-1 in round four before the Shrewsbury youngsters travelled to Atherstone’s Twycross House for the quarter-final, where they were convincing 5-1 winners.

The run of heavy victories set up a last-four clash back on home soil and the visitors from Humberside provided stiff competition but were eventually edged out 2-1.

Mary Webb’s year eights, many of whom turn out for local side Worthen Juniors, are unbeaten since joining the school in September 2021. They lifted the County President’s Trophy last year and are chasing that title and County Cup success this year.

The Small Schools competition is specifically designed for schools of a limited student quota.

PE teacher White said: “I had not entered into the national school competition for around 10 years, but I thought it was worth a go this year after how well they played last year.

“It’s quite good for the small schools to be playing against those of a similar size.

“It’s nice for other year groups to see as well, the current year sevens aren’t doing too badly either, they are in the semi-final of the County Presidents Trophy, so it’s inspiring for the other year groups. Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the best side I’ve had, I’ve not had anything like this before.”

The coach smiled: “They are my team now! I won’t be giving this team away to anybody else!”

The successful side features Jack Edwards, son of former Wolves, Shrewsbury Town and Wales midfielder Dave.

Edwards senior also attended Mary Webb School, and helped his year nine team reach an advanced stage of a similar national schools competition as a schoolboy.

Among the school’s wall of successful alumni is a picture of Edwards in action for Wolves against Manchester United’s Rooney, an irony not lost on staff after knocking out the England legend’s former school.

“The other funny thing is I started here in 1999 and Dave was in year nine in a team under Gary Davies, it was a national schools competition and they went far, they were sponsored by Heinz ketchup and we’ve still got the neon green kit somewhere,” added White.

“I said to Dave I have not seen this sort of team since he was here 20 years ago and it’s funny it has come around again with his lad in the side.

“He is a cracking player – he’s probably more skilful than his dad!”