Barking & Dagenham Erkenwald 64
Coach McCusker with son and Cup.
Coach McCusker drives inside.
ANZSAC's Anthony Hickson.
Shab Niaz top scored with 32 points (including 8 treys).
Centre Dave Churches enjoys a brief rest during a timeout.
ANZSAC talk it over.
Veteran Steve Herd looks to pass inside.
Mark Denchfield and Dela Agbolegbe.
Another ANZSAC score.
We've finally done it!
Coach Declan McCusker is presented with the 2005 Founder's Cup.
Founder's Cup 2005 Winners - Barking and Dagenham Erkenwald.
Founder's Cup 2005 Runners Up - ANZSAC.
All Photos Copyright 2005 Peter Horrell
8 years after losing in overtime to Jarrow in their previous Founder's Cup final appearance, Erkenwald from Barking & Dagenham laid the ghost to rest with a hard fought victory over ANZSAC to claim the 2005 title. After blitzing the Geordies of Boldon in the semi-final with sixteen 3 pointers, the Erks outside shooters were again the difference, as 45 out of the Erks' 64 points came from downtown. Shab Niaz picked up where he left off after his semi-final buzzer beating winner, the ex-Ware man hitting eight trademark 3's and carrying the Erks offence at time in an inspired display that saw him score 32 points. Local guard Mark Denchfield weighed in with 20, and although the remaining Erkenwald players could only manage 12 between them, that was more than enough due to a heroic defensive effort, as the Erks led by centre Dave Churches' 18 rebounds and 5 blocks, held the free scoring ANZSAC side to just 54 points.
In the early stages, the scene was set for a physical encounter, as the referees were letting a lot of contact go unpunished in the key, as a result the 6'9 Churches was never able to establish position close to the basket, his offensive output being limited to 5 points. However ANZSAC's back door cuts and drives to the hoop were also proving unproductive in the melee around the hoop, so the first quarter closed at 14-11 to Erkenwald. The second quarter saw the Erks start to edge away, as the game settled into a pattern, ANZSAC's younger bigger line-up chipping away with a lot of pressure on the offensive glass and the Erks hitting back with sporadic flurries of 3 point shooting, the half-time score being 33-26 to the Dagenham side.
The third quarter was another tight affair, both sides switching up defences and line-ups in an attempt to go on a potentially game-winning run, however with defences well on top, the Erks managed to extend their lead to 45-37. At this stage, the ageing Erks with 4 key players over 35, were starting to look like the effects of two big games in two days could prove too much and with ANZSAC extending their defence up the floor at the start of the 4th quarter, the Antipodeans made their run. Shooting guard Mark Banbrook started to hit from mid-range, and as the tired Erks started to give up 2nd & 3rd chance shots, ANZSAC closed to 1 point. However, that would be as close as they got, as the Erks who were living and dying by the 3 point shot, received the kiss of life via a Dave Churches 3 from an inbounds play and yet another long bomb from Niaz.
After that, despite a brief alarm when the Erks turned the ball over a couple of times in the ANZSAC press and Erks coach Declan McCusker picked up an unsportsmanlike foul after an over-zealous attempt to deny ANZSAC an open lay-up, the Erks were never threatened and with Niaz picking up a further 7 points in the closing 3 minutes, the final score of 64-54 saw the Erks become the 42nd winners of the Founder's Cup since the competition's inception in 1951.
The ANZSAC representative side, formed from the best players in the Club's 18 team summer league which is aimed at Aussie & Kiwi expats in London, have been rapidly promoted to the London Met Premier league since starting up 3 years ago and will surely be a front-runner in the Founder's Cup in future years given the wealth of talented Antipodean sportsmen passing through London.
In the 3rd/4th placed game, Boldon had little trouble despatching Huntingdon, the experience of the Hopper brothers proving too much for the young Hawks, who are hoping to enter the National League in 2005/6.
Finally, Erks victory was particularly sweet for Erks veteran players, Gary Glennard, Declan McCusker, Dave Churches and Steve Herd. All four have well over a decade's service for Erkenwald, over 20 years in the case of Declan & Gary, and all four are local boys from Dagenham. Despite runners-up medals in NBL Divisions 2 and 3 and a host of titles at Essex, Essex Met and London level, winning the Founders Cup at a relatively advanced age might just be the greatest achievement in the Club's history. Fittingly for the Club's driving force over the last 20 years, Declan McCusker, the Erks managed to delay winning the Cup until the arrival of his son Joseph, who was on hand to watch his Daddy pick up the Trophy. And although at 5 months old, he will undoubtedly remember nothing of the game in future years, his Dad will surely relay the story to him in years to come!
Erks: Niaz 32, Denchfield 20, Overare 5, Churches 5, Agbolegbe 2, McCusker, Herd, Glennard, Williams.
Banbrook 17, Burgess 12, Dean 8, Hewitt 7, Hickson 4, Keon 4, Niblock 2, Harrison.
Report posted: 17/04/05