Sunderland U14 v Hartlepool U14, Friday 28th January 2022, 7.30pm

As a ground hopper who keeps a tally of games that I’ve attended I love it when I get a new ground as a bonus. This one came about as I was up at the Ford Quarry in Sunderland for a Northern League game. Ford Quarry is a newish venue with three pitches in close proximity. The kids game was on pitch 2 and as I waited for the match on pitch 1 to begin I had a brief watch.

As you’d expect for an academy game the players all had a decent touch. After all, they should be the best players of their age in their town. Maybe Sunderland, as a former Premier League team, has an academy that casts their net even wider.

One thing that stuck me was the different sizes of the players. Some looked their age or younger, others could have been grown blokes. It reminded me of our kickabouts on Freddy Natt field on those occasions when we were joined by the blokes spilling out of the Centenary fresh from their Sunday lunchtime sessions.

I’ve no idea what the score was or even which was the better team as the main event was due to start but I did wonder how many of those lads might make it to the Stadium of Light or the Victoria Ground and whether any will end up on the next pitch along in a Northern League game. Either is good.

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