North London Raiders became the first club in Jewish football history to win every league title and cup tournament, as Dan Shafron led the side to a Peter Morrison Trophy win in his first season in charge.
Peter Morrison Trophy Final:
South Manchester 0 North London Raiders A 4
Sunday, 7 May, 2017
Raiders’ first Morrison victory was never in doubt after Oscar Wagner put Raiders ahead with a speculative 25 yard opener. Maccabiah-bound Jordan Marks came off the bench to double the lead after great work from Rochwerger. Jordan Nathan then confirmed Raiders superiority with one of the great Peter Morrison final goals with a quite outstanding rabona from the edge of the box, before Nick Lewis added the gloss to the final score with a close-range finish from a Marks free-kick.
It was a day of triumph for Shafron, who in his first full season had masterminded the team to the Peter Morrison trophy, the only trophy Raiders had never won.
Raiders made three changes to the team that had seen off the threat of Lions Masters in the semi-final. Rochwerger was rewarded for his strong second half display in the semi-final with a starting berth at right-back, Dave Cohen came in at left-back, while Wagner came in for Liron Mannie, who missed out due to exam commitments.
The first half was a tightly contest affair, the pitch hard and compact made chances at either end limited. Toby Levy’s set pieces and clever wing play were causing Raiders a few problems and Doffman had to be alert to produce a couple of good punches and saves to make sure his side did not concede first. At the other end, first Stock and then Dinkin had goals correctly disallowed as L’Orange tried to get a foot hold into the game.
Before South Manchester could really settle after half-time, Wagner gave Raiders the lead. Fresh from a man-of-the-match display the night before, the Nottingham university undergraduate drifted in from his right wing position and as the ball was played into him he took a touch to get the ball from out of his feet and then after examining all options shot powerfully which the Manchester goalkeeper could only parry into the net.
The goal sparked a double change for Raiders as Shafron called for Marks and Moss to make their imprint into the game. Last year’s MGBSFL player of the year, Marks, was looking to make up for a season interrupted with injury and back in his preferred left-wing position, his pace and direct running straight away caused South endless problems. An exceptional cross from Rochwerger sent Marks clear and though his initial effort hit the inside of the post Marks was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Shafron was now making full use of the supremely talented bench and Nathan was sent on for Wagner. And with near enough his first touch Nathan scored Raiders’ third with most likely the best ever goal scored in a Morrison cup final. After excellent build up play involving Lewis, Kay and Marks, the ball was played down the left channel to Stock who imperiously beat his man and delivered an excellent low cross to the edge of the box. From there Nathan audaciously placed a rabona into the top left hand corner. The watching crowd all fell silent for half a second as they took in what they’d just seen before everyone erupted.
South were shell shocked and in the space of twenty second half minutes Raiders had gone into a 3-0 lead with the fourth following soon after. This time a clever free-kick from Marks could only be blocked to the onrushing influential Lewis who couldn’t miss from just a yard out.
In the final moments of the game, the apologetic Doffman, who nearly missed the game after an altercation with a certain Manchester city midfielder, made an outstanding save to secure the Raiders clean sheet. The clean sheet meant that Raiders hadn’t conceded a goal in seven consecutive games this season when Rhodes and Bloch had been paired at centre back. An outstanding achievement and Shafron will be doing all he can to make sure he finds a way to keep captain Rhodes fit for the majority of next season.
After the game it was announced that Jonathan Rochwerger in his final game for the club on his birthday weekend was man-of-the-match. Over the years a number of great Australians have represented Raiders. Silver, Miller, Hessleberg, Rabie, Rutovitz and even Garb have all performed with distinction in the orange shirt, but Raiders’ greatest Aussie import will no doubt go down as Rochwerger. A decent weekend for the unassuming 38-year-old from Melbourne.
Raiders will look back on 2016/2017 with fond memories. They couldn’t retain the League or Cyril Anekstein cup, but made history by winning the Peter Morrison for the first time in their history.
Shafron said: “This is a special achievement for the club and to make history is an incredible feeling. I’m delighted that we have finally won the only trophy that had eluded us.
“I’m really proud of the entire squad. We’ve got a very special group, not just the 16 involved today and the players that couldn’t make the journey, but also the management, in particular Jonny and Rob. They’ve all played a huge part in this success and all deserve equal praise.
“On a personal note, to win such a prestigious competition my dad won several years ago is a great feeling and a proud moment.
“In terms of the game, we started tentatively and allowed South Manchester to get at us on a couple of occasions, but I felt that it was a matter of time before we came in to our own. Although we had a couple of goals disallowed towards the end of the first half, we never really got going and I told the boys at half-time we needed to raise our standards. We started the second half with far greater intensity and once we scored our first after a couple of minutes, we were in total control for the remainder of the half.
“South Manchester are a very good side and it was clear that they fully deserved their place in the final. We’d like to thank them and all at West Didsbury and Cholton AFC for their hospitality. The whole weekend was very special and will be remembered for a long time to come.”
Head of logistics, Rob Richman, said: “This trophy is just rewards for the tireless work Dan Shafron has put in this season. It’s a trophy the club has never won before and the players were ever so determined to make sure David Rhodes got his hands on the cup.
“Though it wasn’t a home tie for South Manchester we must thank Neil Collins & Jonny Davis for their hospitality and warm welcome.
“Finally, I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Oakwood on winning the MSFL. They’ve come ever so close for a number of years in a number of competitions and I’m pleased that in Ric’s last year they’ve secured the big one. Congrats to Dan and Jason too.”
South Manchester’s Toby Levy said: “Looking back, it was a great shame, especially after our first half performance, which was good, although we didn’t get the all important first goal.
“They were better in the secondnd half and on balance, deserved their victory. Nothing more to say from our side – all 16 lads involved and those who had been involved in previous rounds did the club proud and we’ll go again.”
During the post match presentation ceremony, MaccabiGB National Football Committee Chairman Laurence Thorne announced he was standing down from the role after 10 years service to make way for some fresh young blood. Malcolm Collins, Vice Chairman for 13 years, is also making way to allow a new core of people to take the competition to new heights. Both teams, together with their supporters, showed their appreciation for Laurence and Malcolm’s long service to Jewish football and the famous Peter Morrison competition.”