Burradon and New Fordley v Mayfair, Sunday 6th March 2022, 2pm

I’d had my eye on the FA Sunday Cup for a while. It’s a competition that I was vaguely aware of due to Hardwick Social of the Stockton Sunday League winning it a couple of times in recent years. It’s a national competition for Sunday League teams that is ran on a regional basis in the early rounds.

From what I could see, games are usually staged at grounds of bigger clubs to allow a more prestigious venue than school playing fields or a council pitch.

Burradon and New Fordley of the Cramlington Sunday League had made it through to the quarter-finals and their tie with Mayfair was taking place at Morpeth Town’s Craik Park. I drove up from Teesside, parked in the overflow car park and paid my £2 admission. If I’d been inclined I could have got in for 50p as the bloke on the turnstile clearly  had no idea if I was a pensioner or not. He gave both prices, leaving it to me to choose my age category. I suppose it won’t be too long before I may quite enjoy any uncertainty about my age.

Burradon were in yellow and blue stripes with Mayfair in a grey kit. I’d hoped that they were from ‘Monopoly’ Mayfair and might be kitted out in top hats and tails. Sadly, they weren’t from round that way although they did wear grey shirts that would have fitted well with morning suits. I never really see grey as being a football colour unless you’re Dino Zoff, of course. Can you believe that he’s eighty? Me neither. I doubt he ever gets quoted pensioner prices at games like these.

Mayfair were from Liverpool, which according to the programme has one of the strongest Sunday Leagues in the country. I remember that when Hardwick won this cup they had a few Stockton Town players in their side and maybe the strength of a Sunday side depends on how successful you are at persuading players to turn out twice over a weekend.

I liked the Craik Park ground. There was a raised seated stand on the far side with tall conifers behind it. On the side of the pitch where I came in there was another covered seated stand and a raised viewing area that was a sort of balcony to a bar tent. A covered standing area behind one of the goals provided an alternative to seating down or leaning against the perimeter railing.

The initial play was quite cautious with both sides keen to play a short passing game on the artificial turf. Some of the tackles were outrageous and I wondered if there was a Sunday set of rules where you could still wipe someone out with a lunge from three yards away providing you got a slight touch on the ball mid-air.

Mayfair opened the scoring with a direct free-kick, but ‘The Ford’ levelled just before half-time following up from a shot that came back off a post.

Some of the second half tackles were just as ferocious and there were numerous scuffles that rarely received a card. Mayfair got the winner with a shot through a crowd of players that left the home keeper unsighted and flat-footed. Dormans are one of the teams joining Mayfair in the last four of the competition and so I might yet get the opportunity to take in another Sunday Cup game this season.

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