Durham County U18 v Northumberland U18, Tuesday 3rd May 2022, 7.15pm

This game was an U18 County Cup Final at Perth Green, home of Northern League club Jarrow. I missed the first twenty minutes due to the sat nav taking me back out of Jarrow and along the A19 until I was adjacent to the ground and then telling me that I had arrived at my destination. Great, providing I could abandon the car on the hard shoulder, scramble up the embankment and then scale a fence.

I ended up detouring through Bolden before eventually finding my way to Perth Green.

It was one each when I arrived, Durham County were in blue with Northumberland in yellow and black tops with red shorts and socks. I worked out which team was by checking out the colours on the badges worn by a lot of the officials and which matched the kit worn by their team.

I took a seat in a fifty-capacity covered stand, next to a brown spaniel. There was a covered elevated standing area on the other side of the dugouts and despite intermittent drizzle a few people watching from pitch-side whilst leaning on the perimeter fence.

Durham took the lead a few minutes from half-time with a penalty that was hotly disputed by some of those sat around me. The ref, who I think I’ve seen a couple of times this season elsewhere, took his time before penalising the defender and awarding the spot kick. The keeper went the wrong way and Durham were two-one to the good.

I got a drink at half-time and felt like the only fella who was paying. Just about everyone else in the room was a committee member or official and got their tea for free. They also had a plate of chocolate digestives that, if they were being offered around, didn’t make it my way.

Durham added a third goal a few minutes after the restart. I’m not sure if the Northumberland keeper was injured in that attack but he limped off a few minutes later. Northumberland didn’t roll over though and had some decent chances to peg back the deficit, including one shot that the Durham keeper tipped onto the bar.

With ten minutes or so to go Northumberland made it three-two, sparking some argy-bargy as players fought over the ball. They pushed for an equaliser but Durham held out for the win.

I hung around for the presentation out of politeness. The trophy looked impressive and as if it had a decent history. Unlike the cup final that I went to at Eppleton recently there were no flares or arse baring this time. Probably for the best.

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