Newcastle University v Sunderland West End, Thursday 24th March 2022, 7.30pm

This was a game in the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup between two sides from the second division of the Northern League, Newcastle University and Sunderland West End. There’s not much between the sides in the table with both teams still in with a chance of promotion so I was expecting a fairly even cup-tie.

The game was at Kimberly Park, Prudhoe. There’s a sign outside that mentions Prudhoe Town so I asked the fella on the gate what happened to them. Apparently, they still run kids teams and a Sunday side but their senior Saturday team folded a couple of years ago when the manager resigned and took most of the players with him.

It was five quid admission. I asked the same bloke about programmes or team sheets and he directed me around the corner to where the teams were being written onto a large whiteboard. I have no idea if the clubs take this competition seriously but the general opinion amongst those stood watching the names go up was that the teams weren’t at full-strength.

I got myself a coffee and then moved along to the main stand. It’s pretty much the only stand, but with the crowd being no more than forty in total you don’t need a lot more. Newcastle were in red with Sunderland in a Brazil-style strip.

The students found it fairly easy in the first half, running at the visiting defence and passing the ball into the net seemingly at will. They went in at the break leading four-one.

Sunderland pulled one back not long after the restart but were never really in the game. When Newcastle scored their fifth, I started to wonder if the game would end up as the highest scoring fixture I’d seen all season. That record is currently held by an eight-nil score line at Newcastle Blue Star back in August.

It took until the closing moments to equal the record when a Sunderland defender arsed about inside his own six-yard box and a Newcastle striker nicked the ball off his toes and tucked it away for a six-two victory. A bloke nearby let rip with an almighty fart, presumably to celebrate the progression to the next round and signalling a cue to those of us nearby to head for the exit.

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