A Thorpe-based girls team has compiled one of the best records of all time in local football after managing to stay unbeaten and winning five doubles in five seasons.

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Norwich City Girls Greens has compiled a glorious century which has contained 97 wins and four draws and produced a league title and cup double in every campaign since they kicked off in 2007-08.

The unbroken record of success in the Norfolk Women’s and Girls’ League has been masterminded by Dean Critchfield and Kevin Laver, who began coaching the side as under 12s in 2007 and have watched the honours roll in at seven-a-side, nine-a-side and 11-a-side as the team has risen triumphantly through the age group ranks.

Dean, whose daughter Emily has captained the side from the outset, admitted that maintaining the unbeaten run had not been not without its share of nerve-racking moments.

“It’s had me pulling my hair out, although the girls have been pretty relaxed about it. We have had some tough challenges but they have always somehow come through. Their application has been fantastic.

“We have only had four draws in all that time. Two in the cup and two in the league. The goalless draw with Red Rose was the only time we failed to score in 101 games.” Although the girls play in Norwich City’s colours there is no direct link, coaching or funding from the Carrow Road outfit.

“None of them are in any Academy or anything like that. They are all home-grown girls. We have not signed girls from any other clubs or poached anyone. It all been through friends of friends and people coming along to join us,” said Dean. He admitted the record was beyond his wildest dreams. “I don’t know if anyone can better it anywhere. The consistency from the girls has been brilliant.”

He added: “The success has been down to team spirit and team ethic. They all get on and they all come training. They try to play football and they have all improved. It has not been kick and rush. There is a mix of skills but it’s their desire that has won through.”

Six of the girls, including Dean’s daughter Emily, a central midfielder, and Kevin’s daughter Chloe Laver, a full back, have been with the side since the outset. Others who have been the core of the side from the early days are: Kiera Squires (striker), Jessica Wenn (midfielder), Sophie Hall (centre half) and Saffron Edwards (full back). Hotshots Kiera (170 goals in 101 games) and Jessica (136 goals in 101 games) have scored over 60 per cent of the side’s 520 goals. This season has marked the end of an era for the side as the players have had to wave goodbye to girls’ football. Next season the Thorpe Rec-based side, which is currently sponsored by by AJ Baker (Builders) Ltd, will be competing in Norfolk Women’s League Division Two.

“There is nothing in Norfolk for 16 to 18 year olds so they are going to have to go into adult ladies football. It’s going to be a good challenge for them. They will be aged 16 and will be coming up against adults of all ages.”

How will they cope when they experience defeat for the first time? “They will be disappointed but I’m sure they will take it in their stride. They are just pleased to have completed youth football with their record intact,” said Dean.

He is hoping that players who shine at adult level will stand a chance of progressing within the Norwich City Ladies set-up which the club has a feeder agreement with.

The girls bowed out on a high on Friday with an end-of-season presentation event at Carrow Road, with Britain’s Got Talent singer Sam Kelly, from Spixworth, presenting the awards.

The presentation night honoured the team’s remarkable achievements with a special commemorative individual trophy for all the players.

Individual awards went to: Ella Sayer (manager’s player); Bethany Clarke (player’s player) and Sian Keeley (most improved player).

The event was followed by more fun and games the following day.

“We treated them to paintballing on Saturday morning. As you can probably imagine the coaches got absolutely splattered,” said Dean.

• The club has around 70 girls on its books spread across five teams. There is a second Yellows team at Under 16 level and sides at Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15 level. This season the Under 13s and Under 15s also managed to achieve league and cup doubles. The U11s were third in their league and the U16 Yellows were runners-up in their league and cup.

For more information visit: www.clubwebsite.co.uk/ norwichcitygirlsandladiesfc

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