ON AN EVENING of sheer exhilaration and drama, London Tigers were crowned the Inner London Football League (ILFL) Premier Division champions after nicking the trophy from leaders Stepney FC on goal difference.
Both teams went into the final games with Stepney leading the rest of the pack in the Premier Division by two points. With G7 and Mohammedan losing the previous week, both contenders were out of the title reckoning – leaving Stepney and London Tigers vying for the Premiership crown.
For fairness, both teams kicked off at the same time – with Stepney locking horns with third place G7 and Tigers against fourth placed Mohammedan. With both title chasers playing on adjoining pitches it was difficult not to notice what was happening in both games. Emdad Rahman’s Stepney took the lead through talisman Mufi Uddin, but with the team failing to capitalise on the momentum G7 equalised before half time.
Mams Uddin’s men killed the game off, and with Tigers humiliating a limp Mohammedan team 4-0 it was enough for Mesba Ahmed’s team to be crowned champions for the fifth time. It was a bitter moment for Stepney, who had led the table for most of the season, but despite having the best defensive record in the premiership it was their lack of goals which proved costly.
Team Captain Abdul Wahid lifted the trophy and said, “It’s been a rollercoaster season. We have worked hard to retain our fitness and match sharpness and it’s paid off. The Vets League is one of the most competitive around and I can’t remember the last time we had an easy game. Our commiserations go to Stepney, who battled all the way. There’s no doubt they will have better days.”
Stepney player manager Emdad Rahman concluded, “This has been a bitter sweet season on several counts. The senior team was relegated but lifted the BFA Sonali Cup for the first time under Muj Rahman, and the veterans have today shed blood. It was not meant to be. We will regroup and be back stronger.”