LEGENDARY STATUS CONFIRMED
Turnford U15 immortalized themselves as one of the greatest teams to compete inside ENG's netball structures after they won a famous treble this 2022/23 season. You would be quick to think that this team was expected to win the competitions they were competing in but the journey to legendary status has been a up and down experience and can be compared to the famous 'Rocky' scenario of being put on the canvas and rising again to become No.1.
Our first encounter with this particular Turnford side was back in December 2019 when they competed in our ENG U12 Netball Cup Eastern Finals. Coached by netball royalty Sam Bird, they won this particular competition and went into the national finals as the favourites. They reached the final of the nationals and came up against Poole NC, a game that would decide who was No.1 at a U12 level. On this occasion they lost and had to settle for a runner-up position and then straight after this the country was plunged into lockdown which would derail all sports across the UK.
After months of waiting ENG was back and in April 2021, Turnford along with many other clubs helped pioneer the Youth Netball Premier League, a league that was designed to engage performance-minded teams in more competitive match play to help with their development. Even after such a long time away from the courts, Turnford showed the same quality they did back when we conducted our U12 event. This time as a U13 side they swept aside the opposition and were heading into the final game of the season in a unavoidable clash with the team that defeated them in the U12 nationals back in 2020, Poole NC. With the integration of post-match interviews, there was genuine rivalry brewing between the two sides with the players engaging in some friendly exchanges via the league's social platform. By the time we had reached the final game of the season the intensity surrounding the game was at its all-time high and like back in 2020, Turnford had to settle for a runner-up position again behind Poole. Going into the debut U13 Grand Finals, Poole were favourites to once again claim the title as the No.1 team in the country, but Turnford in the final against Poole produced a breathtaking display in the opening quarter to squash any notion that they were playing second fiddle to the Dorset based side and came away from the 2020/21 season as the No.1 team in the country.
Heading into the 2021/22 season Turnford were optimistic about not just reclaiming their national title but also stopping Poole NC from winning the league. Throughout the season Turnford once again was unstoppable and came into the final games of the season hoping to land their first Southern Conference title, but this time as a U14 side. After a tough game against Eagles NC, which they won, they came up against their fierce rivals Poole NC once again to see who would win the league. A close game up until the second half, Poole managed to grab the intuition and went on to win the game and the league for the second successive season. Heading into the YNPL Grand Finals Turnford was paired with Grangetown from the Northern Conference in a game they were expected to win. As the game started it was clear it wasn't going to be as straightforward as everyone was expecting and Grangetown was more than a match the previous season's national champions. The game went to overtime and Grangetown won with seconds to spare to condemn the national champions to the 5th-8th playoff game, which guaranteed they wouldn't win the event this time around. What made it more frustrating for Turnford was they had to watch their rivals Poole NC lift the title and be crowned No.1 in the country.
The 2022/23 season would be the final time we hosted Turnford within our YNPL league format due to it going up to the U15 age group only. Like the previous season's Tunford swept aside their opposition and were marching towards another encounter with Poole NC to see who would win the league. Aside from that, they were doing well in our National Cup competition, where they were drawn against Poole NC in Round 2. Before the cup clash, came the league clash and Poole was looking to win a treble of league titles. This time around though it wasn't to be for Poole NC who courageously fought to the bitter end to win the game, but Turnfrord narrowly won the game to end their two-year wait for a YNPL league title. This led to them conquering Poole in the cup competition and going into the U15 YNPL Grand Finals were favourites to win. After navigating the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the YNPL Grand Finals the final game was once again going to be against Poole. The last time these two teams met in this setting was back in 2021 at the same venue and on the same court. Like back in 2013, Turnford completely dominated Poole in the opening quarter to give themselves a healthy lead and that allowed them to relax and repel Poole fighting back into the game. When the final whistle went a jubilant Turnford won their second YNPL Grand Finals and after the disappointment of the season before it was a fitting ending to their YNPL experience. Turnford though wasn't done and had one last competition left to play and that was the finals of the ENG U15 Netball Cup Knock-Out Series. A win would immortalise them as one of the greatest teams ever to compete within ENG and secure a historic treble. It wasn't straightforward for Turnford en route to winning the treble with YWCA Bury asking questions of their credentials in the semi-final and then Grangetown who were only one point down going into the final quarter doing their best to derail the treble chasers. In the end, Turnford got the win and managed to cement its legacy as one of the greatest teams not just within ENG netball structures but within youth netball circles across the whole country.
People loved the Rocky films not because of the wins, but because of his ability to get back up when he looked defeated. Throughout the last three years, Turnford have experienced every emotion competing in our events, from great wins to disappointing losses, but like a true champion, they kept getting back up in the bad times but stayed grounded in the good. It would have been easier to walk away at times, but like Rocky, Turnford kept moving forward and didn't allow themselves to be beaten down by the bad times or carried away by the good.
If greatness is measured on win records then you could argue Turnford maybe aren't the No.1 team of all time within ENG, but if measured on attitude, bravery and will to win, then they are the undisputed queens of ENG and we're proud to of been apart of their amazing journey.