The Saints did it – with style and with grace.  St Panteleimon are champions of the Middlesex County League, Division One.  The Club hoped for a respectable first season in the English Football Association pyramid. But to win the league, with two games to go, and with statistics that are “astronomical” (literally “belong in the stars”), has given everyone a lift.  And everyone needed a lift.  

The Championship is dedicated to Pani Argyrou, founder, sponsor, Treasurer, a leader and friend of the community, whose funeral will be held on 9th May.  

The Saints travelled to Hackney Marshes, to play against Mile End Park Rangers. A minute’s applause at the beginning by both teams and the referee, to honour the memory of Pani, began the emotional day.

And it took a while for the game to settle down. For thirty minutes, the Saints could not get their passes together and it needed some time to play through the emotion and to stabilise.

But when it came, it came in a way that showed what the Saints are all about.  Nick Salapatas scored the opener with a strong finish that sent relief and joy through the team.  A mistake by the Mile End keeper gave Noyan Nakbakhsh the second with a tap in.  0-2, and faith turned to expectation.

If the first half was a steadying of composure, the second half was a joy to behold. The Saints began to flow and play the kind of football that they have become famous for.

Ayub Albadri flying down the right wing with his distinctive pace and style, placed the ball to make it 0-3, in the first minute of the second half.

Then Roberto Katsikas crowned the game with a skilful hat-trick.  The first a great finish in the corner.  The second ending a great move combining several players – including delicate one touch play from Ilias Katsoloudis, Javonne Molloy and Jack Smith. The third, a long curled shot into the corner.  

A finally a rocket shot on the run from Noyan Tajkbakhsh made it 0-7.  At this point the Saints fans and coaches realised they were on 99 goals for the season. A prize for the 100th goal will have to be claimed in the next match.   It finished 0-7.

Now back to those astronomical numbers of how The Saints won the league: P20 W16 D4 L0 F99 A16 GD+83.  Nick Salapatas is the league’s top scorer so far, with 30.

There are two home games left.  The aim is to be unbeaten and become the “Invincibles”. And to score 100 goals.  Let’s not forget, only 16 goals conceded, is the best defensive record in the League. Superb season for goalkeeper Donald Manaj, and early season from Leon Dimas, and a trusted and solid defensive line.  

Special mention goes to manager George Frangeskou, who has coached this team with passion, leadership and inspiration, and the reward of the championship is his.  He shares this with pride.

Most pleasureable for the supporters, coaches, players and committee is the quaity, the pass and move, the fast free flowing football that defines this team.   Above all it is the team spirit, determination, steel, community foundation and culural bond that makes this team something special in our lives.

#rememberthesaints

The Championship is dedicated to Pani Argyrou.

 

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