Euro Garages FC
Club History & Achievements
By Masihullah Patel
2012 marked a memorable year for Euro Garages FC. A year when two, young, courageous and ambitious friends (Sajid Desai and Faizal Ali) from Blackburn set out with a dream to help the young wider community of Blackburn showcase their potential and talents in the Blackburn and District Football Combination League. In order to realise this dream, it was quickly evident that it was not fully possible alone and the need of a senior, father figure to guide and mentor the team became apparent. The importance of supporting, guiding and developing the young team both on and off the pitch was critical in their early time together. In search of this mentor, the club were very fortunate and privileged to welcome to the team Arif Ramzu, a very respected and devoted senior member of our community.
It was under the guidance of Arif and the leadership support of the clubs more experienced members, that core values such as desire, discipline, respect and trust were instilled into the minds of the youngsters from the very beginning. Thus, it is no surprise that we see the success that is being delivered by this young group of player‟s season after season. More importantly, the practice and implementation of these core values now sees a priceless and unbreakable bond formed within the players, management and those associated with the club.
The team played under the sponsor name of IMO and began their journey representing a proud community in the Blackburn and District Football Combination League.
Intra Madrassah Organisation (IMO) Team Photo
The club finished fifth in their debut season. It was a great opportunity for the young team to have their first taste of competitive senior football the Blackburn Combination League together.
The club also had a great cup run which saw them dump out the Premier Division leaders in the semi-finals. In the final IMO put up another spirited display against another Premier Division side Blackburn Olympic. Unfortunately, this proved a step too far as the game finished 4-2 to winners Blackburn Olympic.
The club kicked off the 2013/14 season with the team competing in the Annual Forbes 11 a- side tournament. The tournament was held at Pleasington Playing Fields and currently hosts team from all over the borough at all age levels.
Despite losing to AMT in the group stage, the team came through the final to take the game to penalties. The young side then made sure they converted all but one of their penalties to take the game to sudden death to complete a 5-4 win.
The first silverware for the team is always considered to be the most sentimental and cherished.
IMO Show off Their New Kits Sponsored By Tauheedul Islam & KQF
In the second season of participating in the Blackburn & District Combination League the club finished in a respectable third place, level on points to runners up Clayton Park (courtesy of some point deductions). Overall, on reflection it was a positive and energetic league performance from the team considering their short tenure as a club.
However, it was quite evident from some of the league defeats suffered during the course of the season that the group lacked experience. This was something the club was quick to address by welcoming on board four experienced league campaigners Imran VA, Aaroon Hussain, Ahmed Seedat AKA Cola and Muhammed Ameen Patel AKA Fletch.
In 2012/13 season the club missed out on reaching two cup finals by suffering defeats in two separate cup semi-finals. The first defeat came in the Sports Council Cup semi-final to Hole Ith Wall, who were the eventual winners.
The second defeat came in the Eddleston Cup semi-finals to eventual cup winners Alexandra Hotel.
Although there was no league silverware to celebrate for the season, the club, its players and supporters received abundant praise and acknowledgment from opposing teams, supporters and the league management on how the club conducted themselves both on and off the pitch.
A defining year for the club, as we welcomed and proudly announced our clubs new headline sponsors Euro Garages Ltd.
Zuber Issa the CEO of Euro Garages said “We at Euro Garages strongly believe and pride ourselves in giving back to the community by supporting the young generation in their personal development and achieving their full potential”.
We, as a club were overwhelmed with their desire and ambition along with the willingness to support and we hope and pray this partnership continues and becomes a means of providing further opportunities and creating unity through the power of football in our community.
The Club Welcome New Sponsors Euro Garages
Based in Blackburn, Euro Garages were founded in 2001 by brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, with the acquisition of a single petrol filling station in Bury, Greater Manchester. Since then, Euro Garages has established itself as one of the UK‟s fastest growing and most recognisable forecourt operators, with an expanding portfolio of 341 freehold-owned sites located throughout mainland UK.
Alongside an innovative approach to roadside retail property, Euro Garages has forged high- profile relationships with nationally and globally recognised retail and convenience brands, now operating in excess of 67 Starbucks drive-to and drive-thru restaurants, 50 Burger Kings, 153 Subway sub-stations and 104 Gregg‟s bakeries.
Forbes Solicitors Pre-Season Tournament
Now playing under the name Euro Garages FC, the club began the season with a bang by defeating local rivals Blackburn United FC in the final of the pre-season tournament. It was the second season on the bounce the club had won the tournament.
Trailing 1-0 with a minute to go Euro Garages equalised through Junaid Dalal before winning the game 5-3 on penalties.
Euro Garages Celebrate Retaining The Forbes Solicitors Trophy
Under the new sponsor Euro Garages, the club achieved promotion to the Premier Division by finishing runners to eventual league winners Cabin End.
Euro Garages FC Secure Promotion To The Premier Division
Having already sealed a place in the top flight, the 2014/15 season saw the club continue to have another brilliant cup run. It was the second year running whereby the club had managed to reach the Sports Council Cup semi-final and to be drawn again against last year‟s cup winners Hole Ith Wall. Although we put up a spirited fight, Hole Ith Wall proved too strong on the day and defeated us to reach the cup finals for the second year running.
Having tasted defeat in the Eddleston Cup semi-finals last year, the club and its players were hugely determined to improve against a tough Worth Avenue side. Going into the finals as favourites, the club lived up to the billing going 2-0 up at the break, thanks to a wonder strike from Zain Patel and a Justine Chapel own goal.
But Worth Avenue showed they weren‟t there just for a cup final outing and had the otherwise excellent Kevin Brown shown more composure in front of goal, it could have been a different outcome. But the truth was that Worth Avenue made a fight of it while Euro Garages FC made hard work of it. Club captain Muhammed Amin Patel stood out with a man of the match performance, patrolling the centre circle and distributing the ball with minimum fuss but maximum impact.
The final eventually finished 2-1 and Euro Garages were crowned the new Eddleston Cup champions. The clubs first major silverware since forming in 2012.
Euro Garages Celebrate Cup Success
Special Young Player of the Year Award
The club was honoured and privileged to have one of its young talented players receive an award of recognition by the Blackburn and District combination league. Without doubt, Nasif Ahmed was one of the clubs promising prospects whom consistently separated himself from the rest each season.
Firstly, from a footballing point of view, he has the natural ability of a leader wherein he never fails to give in, in any situation and this has been backed up by his consistency in producing match winning performances week in week out.
Secondly, and more importantly from a personal point of view, he has always taken pride in ensuring he and the team conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism both on and off the pitch. A trait, which has been recognised and acknowledged by the league, management, opposition teams and the supporters that follow the club.
On a final note, his positive attitude and behaviour sets him apart from the rest and this makes him a real example and inspiration for the up and coming new generation of footballers.
Nasif Ahmed Voted 2015 Young Player Of The Year
The club had its first taste of top flight football and were proud to announce and secure the services of two very senior and experienced campaigners, Kalim Hafeji and Amir Feroze.
The Premiere Division proved to be a welcoming challenge in which the club finished at a respectable 4th position, a point behind 3rd place Anchor. The highlight of the season coming when the club defeated league champions The Ivy 2-1 at Roman Road, considered to be the most hostile and challenging venues to play football in this league.
The 2015/16 season will be remembered as the year in which history was created. It was the first time in the history of Asian football an ethnic minority team had successfully accomplished a cup double in the Blackburn and District Combination League. In the space of four days the club were crowned winners of the Cotton and Birtwistle Cup. A proud accomplishment that has never been achieved by any ethnic minority team to date.
In the Cotton Cup it was Captain Junaid Dalal who bagged a brace to help the club continue its collection of silverware. Having lifted the Eddleston Cup last season, Euro Garages added the Cotton Cup as Junaid Dalal scored in each half to seal a 2-0 victory against Lord Raglan at the AFC Darwen‟s Anchor Ground.
Euro Garages Celebrate Cotton Cup Victory
Man of the Match Junaid Presented the Cotton Cup
Euro Garages Team Line Up For The Birtwistle Cup Final
Having already won the Cotton Cup, Euro Garages had their sights set on more silverware but they were up against a Rishton United side who are no strangers to a few final flings themselves.
In a hugely anticipated cup final against Rishton United, it was Shakeel Butt who showed nerves of steel to score a dramatic extra-time penalty winner as Euro Garages completed a Combination cup double. With the match seemingly heading for the dreaded penalty shootout, Dalal won a penalty which Butt then converted with virtually the last kick of the game.
Euro Garages Players & Management Celebrate Cup Double
Asian Image Championship 2016
It was the first time the club were participating in the Asian image cup and the club could not have asked for a tougher draw to start their campaign. In the opening round, Euro Garages were drawn against none other the tournament‟s most successful and eight time finalists Coppice United.
Going into the opening round, the club had very little knowledge and experience about the tournament and its history. However, what we did know was we were up against the pre- tournament favourites who lacked no experience and were seen as the most feared team.
The game ended in defeat for the club. However, Coppice United had to earn their victory as it was Euro Garages that had more of the possession and the better chances. For 30 minutes the game was bossed by Euro Garages FC who would have gone ahead if it wasn‟t for some good defending from the 2015 finalists. A goal soon settled Coppice nerves and the second half was a different story altogether. Coppice finally showed why they were labelled tournament favourites by netting in four second half goals to motor into the semi-finals.
Never the less, it was a good experience for Euro Garages.
Euro Garages Line Up at the Nelson FC Football Ground
A season of mixed emotions, even with it being only the clubs second season in the top flight, there were a lot of expectations that each individual in the club had set themselves – which collectively meant “…we can do this…”. Let‟s face it, the team had now established themselves as credible competitors for the championship and why not?
So, how did we do…?
The season was a belter, some fantastic performances and results meant that Euro Garages FC had every right to be in the run in for the title and led the league for a period of time also.
Throughout the season the league was well contested between Euro Garages FC and Longshaw. However, the season will be forever marred by an abandoned game between Euro Garages FC and Clayton Park.
A game that will never be erased from history, irrespective of the outcome. A game that will always be remembered as the victory that was taken away, a game where “injustice” is the only word that best describes its eventual outcome.
With being 1-0 up and 8 minutes remaining a brawl followed that was instigated by the opposition and sadly resulted in the game being abandoned. The league concluded to void the points, a decision that would prove to be defining in the outcome of the league champions.
Even though, going into their final game the club beat Longshaw 3-2 at their home ground Roman Road, it proved to not be enough. With 80 minutes played on the clock, Euro Garages were trailing Longshaw 2-1 before an eventful finish to the game saw the club overhaul the 2-1 deficit. Although, Yaqoob and the impressive Malik stole the points for Euro Garages FC in a stunning final five minutes of the game, the season came to a sad end.
Longshaw were crowned Champions on goal difference – but, it is widely recognised and acknowledged that Euro Garages did more than enough to be crowned champions.
The 2016/17 season saw the club fail to defend the Birtwistle Cup losing to league rivals Longshaw in the cup semi-finals. The scores were level after 90 minutes of play and nothing could separate the two after extra time. It was Longshaw who came on top in a one sided penalty shootout and went onto lift the Birtwistle Cup.
On the other hand, it was the first time in five attempts the club had reached the Sports Council Cup Final. The previous best for the club was reaching the cup semi-finals on two separate occasions. However, it was not meant to be as the club suffered their second cup defeat to the hands of Longshaw.
In what has been one of the closest and exciting battles for the league title in many years, the Sports Council Cup Final sadly failed to live up to the hype and drama that was witnessed days earlier at Roman Road when Euro Garages beat Longshaw 3-2 in an unforgettable match.
In the final it was Longshaw who made the better start coming nearest to scoring when they hit the cross bar in the opening exchanges. However they could not turn their pressure into a goal and the game remained goalless at half time.
It was much the same story in the second half with neither team finding the cutting edge to find that crucial break through. The game seemed to be drifting towards extra time when after 82 minutes Longshaw took the lead through Mark Slater. Euro Garages tried vainly to get back on terms but in the 90th minute Jamie Chapman hit a superb shot from just outside the area which settled the victory for Longshaw.
Euro Garages Line Up for the Birtwistle Cup Final
Asian Image Championship 2017
In the second year of participating in the Asian Image Cup, the club were drawn against a well drilled and disciplined AFC Preston side. It was a disappointing and below par performance from the Euro Garages FC players who seemed to have used up their energy levels in an attempt to win the Blackburn and District Combination League for their first time.
Going into the tie as underdogs, Preston never really looked in any trouble in this 2-0 victory. It was a well-deserved win for the Preston side who came with a well thought out game plan. A well taken goal and a brave header put AFC into the next round who eventually went on to reach the finals.
EG Line Up ahead of the AMT Lawyers Football Championships
Euro Garages defence led by the experienced Kalim Hafeji put up stiff fight. However, the game will be long remembered by the many in attendance for the historic battle it produced between Adam Mahetar AKA Badaam and AFC Preston’s Naeem Patel AKA Rodger.
It was a season that will be remembered for getting so close yet not close enough. A season where Euro Garages missed out on two cup finals having come short in both cup semis and had to settle for third place to eventual winners The Ivy Veterans. Never the less, it was a season where the players remained positive and battled till the very end.
Right from the onset it was seen as a three horse race between The Ivy Veterans, Clayton Park Rangers and Euro Garages. Throughout the season there were many twists and turns between the three clubs but it was the number of drawn games that costs Euro Garages from running away with the title before having to settle for third place.
The 2017/18 season saw the club reach two cup semi-finals against their league rivals and familiar opponents The Ivy Veterans. In the Divisional Birtwistle Cup, Euro Garages found themselves on the receiving end of another penalty shootout defeat for the second year running. In a highly competitive game, the teams could not be separated in normal time with the game finishing 1-1 after 120 minutes of end to end football. A combination of nerves and some fine goal keeping resulted in The Ivy Veterans running away as eventual winners in an evenly contested penalty shootout.
The second cup semi-finals (Sports Council Cup) lived up to hype and was just as competitive as the first if not more entertaining. It was Euro Garages who threw first blood taking the lead after just the 30 seconds thanks to a remarkable overhead kick from Ahmed Seedat. It was a goal that came out of nowhere and one no one would expect coming from the smallest man on the pitch. However, the Ivy Veterans kept coming at Euro Garages and just before the half time mark the equaliser came. After 90 minutes of competitive football the scores remained 1-1 and we were back into extra time.
The game then took a twist. With dying minutes of the first half of extra time remaining The Ivy Veterans were awarded a free kick right outside the Euro Garages box. The inevitable happened and a moment of magic was produced. A very well taken free kick that curled over the wall and into the keepers top left hand corner lit of sights of celebration for The Ivy Veterans. Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due and this was something special given the fact it was a cup semi-final between two high profile teams. This sublime free kick proved critical and a worthy match winning goal. However, it was not meant to be for Euro Garages as the club suffered their second cup defeat to the hands of The Ivy Veterans who wrapped up a fine season and completed a magnificent treble.
Special Distinguished Service Award for Kalim Hafeji
Kalim Hafeji has now played in the combination league for over 20 years. Teams he has represented include Posh Clothing, Ewood Amateurs, Blackburn United, Nelson FC and now Euro Garages. Kalim made his first combination senior appearance at the age of 17 where he represented Posh Clothing and now at the age of 40 he continues to show his dominance where he finds himself competing with and against the youths of the modern era.
Over the years Kalim has established himself as an accomplished all round footballer and in the 2010/11 season Kalim was voted Footballer of the Year by the combination league. His natural ability to lead a team both on and off the pitch along with his football IQ helped him separated himself from the rest and it was no surprise when scouts from Nelson FC presented him with an opportunity to play at a semi pro level. In 2012 Kalim went on to represent Nelson FC where he successfully competed for 2 years.
In 2015 Euro Garages were proud to announce and secure the services of Kalim Hafeji, who is regarded as a very senior and experienced campaigner. His return back to the combination league has been a huge success and positive for the club. Ever since joining the club, Kalim has played a vital role in helping the clubs youth develop their personal game and establish themselves as complete footballers. He is never shy in sharing his ever growing knowledge, skill and experiences of the game and always looks for opportunities to contribute towards the game he has loved as a child.
It was no surprise when in 2015 Kalim was honoured with the Merit Award in the Blackburn Sunday league for his valued contribution to the league and local football for many years.
To conclude, Kalim is one of few surviving footballers who has played, contributed and still continues to play till today in the combination league. We as a league are very fortunate to still have veterans like Kalim around who play a very helpful hand in developing the game of the youth and no doubt Kalim has played that role with Euro Garages FC. The success that has followed the club since Kalim’s arrival is evidence of the work he has put in behind this young youthful squad of players.
Asian Image Championship 2018
In the fourth year of participating in the Asian Image Cup, the club were drawn against their last season’s conquers AFC Preston. This time round it was Euro Garages who looked the better team, coming off the blocks and taking a well deserving lead going into half time curtsey of a great header from the longest serving player in the tournament, Kalim Hafeji.
However, AFC Preston hit back twice in the second half to turn the tie on its head and walked away as eventual winners. A goal straight after the half time break and then a wonderful half-volley from 30 yards from Talha Patel proved to be enough in the end to settle the tie.
Midfield Maestro Aamir Firoze and Ahmed Seedat of Euro Garages put on a midfield master class controlling and battling their way pass a disciplined AFC Preston side. Adam Mahetar and AFC Preston’s Naeem Patel met again for the second season running to continue from where they left off from last season. A battle no doubt Adam would want to forget sooner rather than later.
The journey goes on… thank you!
Desire, discipline, respect and trust, these were the values we embraced at the beginning of our journey and these values continue to be the ones we hold in front of ourselves as we continue forward.
Our victories make us humble and our defeats make us stronger. We continue to learn as we mature and hope that what we achieve together results in more than just trophies on a shelf, but a platform for future generations to be inspired to realise their own potential in their own special way.
I want to also take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt appreciation and warmest gratitude to every single person that has been with the club and supported the club at any step of the way.
Without your support and help, none of this is even possible.