London Lions manager Andy Landesberg hailed his side for a “very special achievement” after he saw them secure an historic league and cup treble on Monday afternoon.
Beating Letchworth Garden City Eagles 7-1 in the final of the Aubrey Cup, to go alongside their Herts Senior County Premier Division title and County Trophy wins, Landesberg said: “What we’ve achieved today is history. We’re a club from our community, competing at a high level outside of our community, with 75 percent of the squad coming from our youth development programme. This is something very special, it’s is a real achievement by everybody.”
Full of praise for the club’s accomplishments, he said: “I’m not sure proud is a strong enough word to describe how I feel about what has been achieved. This performance is not only about this team, it is a story about a club that worked, developed and created a platform for our community to compete outside of our community. It’s about a club that has created an environment for kids from seven-years-old to develop their ability and skills, and have, aspirations to finish playing on that great pitch and delivering performances that we have all seen this year, beating everybody along the way.
“This team makes me feel very proud for so many reasons, especially when you see over 12 players from the first team squad coming through from our youth development programme, that is what makes me feel very proud.”
Their third piece of silverware was earned by hat-tricks from Max Kyte and Austin Lipman, plus Charlie Kasler’s stunning opener, though the game wasn’t as comfortable as the eventual scoreline suggested, with them being held at 1-1 until the 38th minute.
“We were brilliant, dominant and emphatic today, but it really took until after the half time break to deliver the goods”, he said. “I love the exciting part, but it is the other side of the game that is the unsung success in the team. Were we in control? It only takes one mistake, one decision that goes against you or one missed chance that can turn the tables quickly. Today we stayed calm, yes, we stayed in control, and when we went into the dressing room at half time my message was about defending not attack.
“I know if our defensive unit does their job, then the talent we have in our front six is virtually unplayable. The message becomes easy for me. Do not concede a goal, put your body on the line for 45 minutes and we win the game. Our defence did us proud today, the boys up top then went and finished the job in style.
“When you’ve already won two trophies, you could say the third one is a bonus, but that was not the feeling from anybody in the camp. The focus was clear, we went into the game saying we must win this cup, what we had already achieved counted for absolutely nothing and that the season would feel like a disaster if we don’t win. Yes, that adds huge pressure to the group, but I have a simple message that I tell the players “you get nothing for second place”.
“Our performance today was near on perfect, and that’s not easy in a cup final, especially with a treble at stake, it’s not often you talk about all 14 players and say they were all superb today. Today was that day.”
Having made history this year, winning everything in sight, what are his aims and targets for next year? “It’s a very difficult question to answer so soon after that win”, he said. “I’m very clear about one thing, yes, we do have the ability to compete against the best from the next league up. We certainly have the facilities and structure in place to compete at that level, and my job is to see if I can pick up one or two players that can even further strengthen the squad. Remember we beat Wodson Park, who are fifth in the league above up 3-0 in the cup final a few weeks ago, we are more than capable to continue, on the journey up.”
And as to how he will motivate his players for next season, he added: “I think in the non-league football environment, motivation is the key word. As I have said on so many occasions, I’m a manager not a coach. Yes, I always have the final say on everything, but what I deliver is a number of things. I build a strong solid team around myself, I make sure the facilities and organisation is in place to support me and last, but not least I have built an understanding between myself and every player and every part of the coaching team that is very clear. My biggest role outside of all these aspects comes back to that key word, motivation. That’s my strength, that’s what I am good at. I believe that I will firstly motivate myself to be ready for whatever next season brings, I will for sure motivate those players and all our coaching staff, and last, but not least I will motivate the whole club to get behind us in our quest to continue to move forward.
Assistant manager Darren Yarlett was just as proud of the team. He said: “I’m so proud of these lads, what they have achieved is incredible, people can talk about the strength of the league but we finished 27 points off top spot last year and to find the consistency in winning pretty much every game this season is very special. Credit to the boys and credit to Andy and Steve.
“If we can keep everyone together and add a few there is no reason why we can’t have a real go at the South Midland League, we know what is in store with the amount of games to be played and distances we need to travel but the lads are up for the task.”