Craghead New Punchbowl v West Kyo Earl Grey, Friday 18th March 2022, 7.15pm

We are getting into the time of season for cup finals, yet it doesn’t seem so long ago that the season was starting. Time moves quickly for me these days. This final was for the North-West Durham Charity Cup. Who would have thought that Durham was big enough for its North-West to have a competition of its own?

The Charity Cup is for Sunday League teams, both of these from Division One of the Consett District Sunday League. Hence, I suppose the choice of Consett’s Belle View Stadium for the final tie. It was a good venue, three quid in, programmes for free, a cabin for chip butties and coffee and a popular bar with the Wolves-Leeds game on the telly.

Craghead New Punchbowl and West Kyo Earl Grey had both battled through four previous rounds to reach the final and were incredibly well supported. I’d estimate around four hundred people attended, some of whom, as the evening went on, were stood on the tables outside of the bar chanting in support of their team.

I started off in a covered seated stand on the opposite side to the clubhouse before watching the second half from different vantage points on the rail.

Craghead New Punchbowl were in a Milan style kit with West Kyo in dark blue shirts and black shorts. The latter was close enough to the all-black kit of the ref to cause him to first put on an orange bib and then to change to a light green ref shirt.

I didn’t have to wait long for the first goal as an early corner from ‘The Punch’ was palmed into his own net by the West Kyo keeper. He complained furiously about being dazzled by the floodlight, something that I imagine he rarely has to contend with on a Sunday morning. Craghead doubled their lead just before half-time after a break down the right led to an easy tap in.

West Kyo had their names on the backs of their shirts, which seemed a bit over the top for a Sunday side, although I suppose it was a cup final. I wonder if they had thought about commemorative embroidery on the front? They also had a striker with number 1 on his back, something that I hadn’t heard of happening since Holland and Argentina did it in World Cups when I was a kid.

Both sides had their chances in the second-half but the score remained at two-nil and Craghead lifted the trophy. I doubt that they sell much champagne in the Consett clubhouse but two bottles were found for spraying around in celebration after the players had collected their medals and the cup had been raised.

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