Last week the final BA(G) football league match took place in Sennelager at the stadium pitch on Normandy Barracks.
The match was played out between the two top teams in the league, 35 Engineer Regiment – last year’s winners – and 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in a game that really showcased the talent out here in British Forces Germany.
The two teams headed out on to the pitch before standing for the national anthem.
The game began and 1 PWRR looked on top form from the start as they had some good chances, staying inside the Engineer’s half for long periods of the game. It stayed this way as the players began to get into the game until, against the run of play, the sappers went 1-0 ahead.
A long ball found its way over the top of the Tiger’s defence and into the path of 35’s striker Gifford who calmly prodded it past the keeper.
After the goal the game started to even out and both teams had their fair share of chances to score.
As the second half commenced the teams both came out with the intent to score as they both pushed forward. This started to leave gaps at the back and the Engineers were the first to exploit the space when a neat pass was put away by Sapper’s player Mason.
35 Engineers were 2-0 up and with no sign of stopping they continued to look dangerous, but as the Sappers had done themselves earlier in the game, the team from 1 PWRR scored against the run of play to make it 2-1, Cpl Johnston with the goal.
Within two minutes of the restart the Engineers pushed forward again and almost instantly scored making it 3-1.
As the game drew closer to the end both teams got stuck in and it started to heat up and feel like a real final. With tackles flying the inevitable happened, penalty to the Tigers.
Sgt Lee Barber stepped up to take it, but the keeper guessed right and saved the ball, parrying it back into the centre where Barber got a second chance and fired home the rebound to bring the score to 3-2, game on.
The Sappers started well and worked extremely hard to keep the Tigers at bay. As the clock ran down a free kick was awarded to the Tigers. This would be the last kick of the game and everyone knew if this found the back of the net then it would bring it level and we would be treated to another 30 minutes of football.
However, the luck was with 35 Engineers as the free kick was deflected off the wall and the referee brought the game to a close. A great game of football to end the league season.
The game was officiated by Sgt Craig Jinks who has been in Germany since 1994. It was his last in Germany as he is heading back to the UK.
Craig said: “One of the highlights of a referee career is to officiate a final, it’s the pinnacle of my career in Germany.
“The four guys I worked with today deserved to be here as well and they will get their fair share when it comes to it.”
Craig added: “I will continue the refereeing UK, but I will miss football here in Germany, I love it. It’s a close-knit community and we all just get along. We now only have eight teams, six referees and they all know each other, so there is a good working relationship.
“You have got to have the banter or there is no point in playing, we are not robots, everyone messes up just as much as each other, so just getting out and playing football to enjoy it is important.
“Back in the UK my intention is to try and progress up the football league ladder and go up to a level 4, which I am already in the process of doing.”
Qualifying as a level 4 means that he will be able to officiate semi-professional games back in the UK.
The man of the match was Spr Andrew Allison who was humble saying: “Yes, I got Man of the Match, but it’s a team game and everyone here has left it all out on the pitch today, so I’m delighted with that.
“It was tough, I think the nerves make it tougher, so just to get the result is all that matters is performances now.”
The match marked the end of the league season. After the summer break teams will again compete for the league title. 35 Engineer Regiment will look to win the title for a third consecutive year.