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Cheetahs v Sharks: As good as any Premier League game

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 06, 2013

treat: The two teams enjoy Ben's birthday cakes

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MARK: You can keep Manchester United-Manchester City, Liverpool-Everton and Spurs-Arsenal – if you wanted to watch a full-blooded derby with no quarter given, you had to be at Naunton Park on Sunday.

On a pitch that would probably have been rejected by all but the hardiest cabbage growers, two squads of young boys from Leckhampton Rovers produced 60 minutes of pulsating football.

Great goals, brave saves, fierce (but fair) tackling, impressive individual skill and a vociferous crowd that cheered every pass and shot – it all made for an afternoon of sport that, for me, rivalled anything the Premier League served up last weekend.

My team, the Cheetahs, didn't manage to beat our arch-rivals the Sharks, but we did score two fantastic goals at the end of the game. And to see the smiles on the scorers' faces was fantastic – they were playing football for the sheer joy of it.

No quarter was given during the game, and some of the challenges made the watching parents wince, but five minutes after the final whistle both sets of lads had shaken hands and were tucking into home-made cakes to celebrate Ben's birthday.

To see the easy way the two teams socialised so soon after competing fiercely against each other was perhaps a good lesson for all of us adults involved – give it everything on the pitch, but make sure you keep it in perspective.

After all, your mates are more important than any victory.

BEN: It was a great game, and I was very busy so I was always involved.

That's the closest score we have ever had against the Sharks and our two goals were amazing. The cakes were an added bonus at the end, some of the boys even managed to get two!

I'm glad it was such a close game, as I didn't want to get really hammered as it would have spoiled my birthday (and would have been a bit tough at school the next day). It was our best team performance this season, and the parents gave the man of the match award to all of us, which was nice.

■ Match report, p4

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