The founder of a non-league football club says he can think of “no better way” of honouring the memory of a late soldier and player after staging its biggest annual Remembrance Match yet.

Private Tom Lake was a member of the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales Regiment, who was killed on November 20, 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.

Pte Lake played for Oxhey Jets and the Combined Counties League club again paid tribute to one of their own by staging a match against a team from the military, this year facing a combined services side from Northwood Headquarters with all proceeds donated to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Watford Observer: The official party is led onto the pitchThe official party is led onto the pitch (Image: Anthony Matthews)

A total of 470 people – a record attendance for the fixture – watched on Saturday as Jets breezed to a 22-0 victory with nine different players getting on the scoresheet and two scoring double hat-tricks. The occasion has never been about the result though, but the moving act of Remembrance, honouring Pte Lake’s memory and raising money for the Poppy Appeal.

With a guard of honour by players from Oxhey Jets Youth, the official party was led onto the pitch to a lament played by piper Colin Macdougal. After the National Anthem, wreaths were laid by Pte Lake’s mother Carol, South West Hertfordshire MP Gagan Mohindra, Luther Blissett on behalf of Watford FC, councillors, the police, football association representatives, the match officials, Jets Youth and both teams.

Watford Observer: Luther Blissett was among those who paid their respectsLuther Blissett was among those who paid their respects (Image: Anthony Matthews)

The Last Post was performed by Colour Sergeant Steve Saleh and members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Band Northwood Headquarters before an impeccably observed two minutes’ silence.

The Garry Beadle Memorial Trophy, named after the Jets player who died in 2019, was then paraded and presented in recognition of the tri-services team’s involvement in the fixture.

Watford Observer: The scale of the ceremony is clear in this photo from the crowdThe scale of the ceremony is clear in this photo from the crowd (Image: Oxhey Jets)

Jets general manager John Elliott: “What a fantastic turn out and the ceremony I think was the best ‘show’ we’ve ever put on. Great thanks to (master of ceremonies) Paul Mimpress of the RAF for that on pitch side.

“The four musicians on the Last Post led by the Royal Marines were incredible and I can think of no better way to remember and honour Tom Lake than this annual event that has now grown so big in the South Oxhey community and beyond.”

Watford Observer: Jets' Player of the Season Lewis Lavin lays a wreath for 'Our Tom'Jets' Player of the Season Lewis Lavin lays a wreath for 'Our Tom' (Image: Anthony Matthews)

Having already lost some members of their squad in the week of the game due to deployments, Northwood were reduced to the bare XI after two more players were injured in the warm-up, including their goalkeeper.

Harry Kirkpatrick took over between the posts and made a number of impressive saves as he tried to stem the blue-shirted tide, but Northwood were often powerless as their youthful opponents showed the progress they are making under the management team of Dave Barnes and Tom Inch with positive, quick and incisive play.

Watford Observer: Luke Nugent slots his goal inside the near postLuke Nugent slots his goal inside the near post (Image: Len Kerswill)

Danny Fowler scored the first goal inside the opening five minutes and by half-time Jets were 9-0 up thanks to a hat-trick from debutant James Barrett, a pair of penalties from Archie James and further strikes from Andre Lopes, Luke Nugent and Dylan Hickman-Singh.

Watford Observer: James Barnett tries a spectacular effortJames Barnett tries a spectacular effort (Image: Len Kerswill)

Owen Ayres and Sam Hamilton (2) also got among the goals after the break but the second half scoring was dominated by James and Avto Akhsiashvili.

James scored four more times, including another penalty to complete a hat-trick of spot-kicks, and he was joined on six goals by his teammate, the pick of which was a superb solo effort that started in his own half close to the left touchline.

Watford Observer: The Northwood team give Jets a guard of honourThe Northwood team give Jets a guard of honour (Image: Anthony Matthews)

Despite the gulf between the two teams, Northwood kept battling and the mutual respect was demonstrated at full-time with each side giving the other a guard of honour.

Northwood’s manager Petty Officer James Jones said: “All the lads gave everything which is what we asked for, but the main aim was the record attendance, the poppy collection and laying the wreaths.”