The Bristol City Panthers took two teams to the annual GFSN Summer tournament, held this year in Liverpool. Despite strong performances in their respective knockout stages, both teams were undone by nail-biting penalty shootouts. Yet the Panthers' sense of fair play, and Luke's goalscoring ability, ensured that the boys still took home two trophies from the competition.
The Purple Panthers got themselves off to a strong start in their group stages in matches against teams from Manchester, Liverpool, London, Brighton and Scotland. They were only bested once in the group stages, picking up three wins and two draws to take them comfortably into the top knockout division. On the way, six goals were picked up by Luke, supplemented with goals from Kevin Basham and Jonathan Holmes (in his competitive Panthers debut!)
The Yellow team had a tough draw, facing teams like Soho FC who reached the final of the GFSN cup competition this year, as well as the London Titans, London Falcons, Nottingham Lions, the Thistle Titans and Village Manchester. The yellows had a strong defensive performance, and particular plaudits should go to goalkeepers Scott, Rob Parry-Hall and Rob Alsop, who all pulled off incredible saves during the group matches. Jack was the yellows' top goalscorer, helping the team to a record of one win (over the eventual group winners!), two draws and three losses.
The Purple team's first knockout match in the top division saw them square off against the Newcastle Panthers (last year's hosts and winners). Once again, Luke's striking abilities proved decisive, as the boys picked up a 1-0 win to send them into the semi finals. In the semis, they faced the formidable Mersey Marauder hosts. After full time, both sides were deadlocked, meaning the place in the finals hung on a nail-biting penalty shootout. Despite excellent work from goalkeeper Charlie, the hosts managed to pull ahead - they would go on to win the whole tournament. The Purples' disappointment was soothed, however, by the fact that they were awarded the tournament's Fair Play award for their sportmanship. And striker Luke resoundingly secured the top goalscorer trophy.
The Yellows were left to fight it out in the third knockout division, and managed to secure a bye into the semi finals. There they faced local friends ISCA Apollo from Exeter. Both teams dug in impressively, but the Yellows again weren't able to secure a goal in normal time. That sent things to a penalty shootout. Confident penalties from Scott, Jack and Phil were able to send the yellows through to the final. In the final, the team met the Pique Blinders (aka the London Leftfooters), where the Panthers defence was tested by strong attacks. Rob Alsop managed to keep the opposition at bay, meaning the yellows again faced a penalty shootout. Despite Rob pulling out a phenomenal save, the Blinders were able to withstand the Panthers' penalties, winning the shoutout 2-1. The team were disappointed not to have been able to secure the trophy, but can be proud of excellent performances all round against tough competition.
All-in-all, the Panthers pulled off excellent performances and were pleased to be able to return from Liverpool with some silverware! The tournament marked the GFSN's thirtieth birtday, and the Panthers were proud to have such strong representation at this celebration of the only LGBT national football league. And, crucially, the team enjoyed a fantastic night out in Liverpool to celebrate this incredible season!