Eton’s Twelfth Men of the Association are a group of Year 13 pupils tasked with reporting on football. The Press Office caught up with them to hear about the main football competition of the Michaelmas Half: House Ties.

We asked Ollie I-C, what’s the format of Ties, and how does this contribute to the competition’s brilliance?

The format of Ties is such that pupils in every House and every year group are involved. With two competitions, one which includes the bottom two years and one which involves the top three, each House puts forward their best team to compete against the other Houses to win trophies and, arguably more important, kudos and prestige!

A key detail is that no matter the differential in skill between teams, if you are beaten, the House falls into a separate competition in order to match with teams of similar ability, which is known as ‘Cake’. This allows the pupils to compete in fair and competitive games, making the experience more rewarding.

In Senior Ties, the fact that pupils can play or match against the best sportsmen in the school and the best can match against pupils in slightly lower teams, makes team spirit and chemistry of the utmost importance in these tightly-contested games. Pupils have to be resourceful, owing to the fact that an Association winger could be against a Year 11 rugby player.

Finally, another great aspect about Ties is that as soon as you join Eton, you become a part of the camaraderie that exists within your boarding House, where all who aren’t playing support from the sidelines. Ties see pupils donning their House colours, which helps contribute to a warm atmosphere within the House and a lively and competitive spirit around the College.

We asked Theo F, why is Ties important to pupils?

Etonians often say it’s important to have ‘House spirit’, but no one really knows how to define it. However, participating in Ties, whether playing or supporting, certainly calls for it. Ties bring out the competitive nature between each of the boarding Houses, as pupils give their all for the chance of bringing home a trophy, whether in the main competition or ‘Cake’. The winner of Ties isn’t just determined by the number of 1st XI players there are in a House. It also depends on hard work. So, when pupils come out to support, usually in poor weather, it gives the players that extra boost that might just push them to a victory. In this sense, it is a whole House effort. This and the fact that it is the most prestigious of all the House competitions is why Ties means so much to Etonians.

We asked Sam E, how has the Ties competition gone this half?

Holland House (PGW) got their Ties campaign underway in emphatic fashion with a 7-1 victory against Manor House (PEPW). Both Hopkins and Howard-Vyse bagged braces with Medlicott, Halfhide and Coomber also chipping in with goals to ensure they got off to the perfect start.

Their performance in the quarter final vs. Warre House (JMG) was of a similar quality and the 3-1 scoreline flattered their opponents. Seb, Jacob M and Peter C-B were on the score sheet on a day when PGW made it very clear it was their tournament to lose.

Up next was a semi-final against Cotton Hall (PAH). The first half was fairly even, as both sides struggled to carve each other open and create any clear chances. Despite PGW having the ball for large parts, PAH were resolute in defence and managed to retain the ball well after winning it back. Three minutes into the second half, PAH opened the scoring after a fantastic solo run by Henry L, which led to a tap in for Webster. However the PGW pupils managed to keep their composure and equalised within a matter of minutes after PAH failed to deal with a set piece delivery and the ball fell to Jacob M, who made no mistake and scored his third goal in as many games.

Seven minutes later and they were ahead. A defensive mix up allowed Jacob M to slide the ball through to Hopkins who finished expertly to give PGW the lead.

Despite a few half chances and a controversial penalty decision, PGW were able to hold on and book themselves a place in the final against South Lawn (BJH), a game that despite PGW being favourites, could have easily gone either way.

PGW got off to a blistering start and after only one minute Jacob M pressed high, won the ball back and whipped the ball across the face of goal where Ned H-V was positioned. He finished tidily to get PGW off to the perfect start. PGW continued to assert their dominance throughout the early stages and very nearly made it 2-0 minutes later; however, Jacob M fired just over.

BJH played their way back into the game and came close on numerous occasions and could have equalised were it not for a brilliant last ditch challenge by Louis R.  Moments later, however, Jacob M scored from the most unlikely of angles to double PGW’s lead going into half time.

BJH came out the better side after the half-time break and had come close on a few occasions before they were awarded a penalty and a chance to get back into the game.

Then, up stepped Jonathan H-P – who saved expertly down to his left, keeping PGW’s two goal cushion intact. Two then became three after Jacob M scored his second of the game and fifth of the campaign with a very tidy finish in the 52nd minute to put the game to bed and ultimately crown PGW worthy winners of Senior Ties 2021.