It was celebration time for the Wharton Arms Bedlington after they won the Morpeth Sunday League’s George Cave Memorial Cup on penalties.
The match at HMP Acklington, sponsored by Sodexo Justice Services, was played on a pitch well worthy of hosting a cup final in glorious weather and, in spite of the venue, in front of a decent sized crowd.
Both Wharton and Northumberland Athletic were well up for the game and the opening exchanges were extremely well contested, with referee Paul Keogh having to calm things down on one occasion.
Scoring opportunities were few and far between until, midway through the first half, Athletic were awarded a penalty and it looked as though the deadlock would be broken. This was not the case as Liam Douglas pulled off a good save to keep it goalless.
Not long afterwards, Athletic hit the bar and were just about on top, although just after this, their goalkeeper, Dan Staples, pulled off a good save and the half ended all square.
The second half was quite a scrappy affair, perhaps the heat was taking its toll, but there were still some chances created – Staples made a cracking double save and the Wharton hit the bar and there were goal-line clearances at both ends.
At the end of normal time, the teams were still locked in a stalemate and 30 minutes of extra-time passed but no goals had been scored, so the lottery of penalties would decide the winners.
The first four penalties were all scored, but then Wharton scored with their third penalty and Athletic missed. However, Staples saved the Wharton’s fourth penalty and the Athletic scored to make it 3-3.
Both teams missed their fifth and sixth penalties and then Wharton scored their seventh penalty and the Athletic missed to make it 4-3 to Wharton.
Thanks to the four match officials who once again did a great job and donated their fees to the George Cave Cup Fund, as have all the cup-final officials this season.
In the Morpeth Sunday League, Amble Tavern won the First Division and Bedlington Barrington will finish as runners-up.
The Second Division has been won by North End Trap, with East Chevington finishing as runners-up. Sadly both of these clubs are leaving the league along with Amble Dock, Ashington Conchie, The Elephant and Morpeth Riverside.
The league has drastically reduced fees for next season and any new club would pay £25 entrance fee plus a £50 bond, which would be returnable provided the club completes one season or more in the league. Clubs must take out player insurance through the league and this is offered at a very competitive rate. Obviously, clubs would need a pitch and this is probably the biggest expense they will incur.
Any clubs interested can contact Alan Parker (League Secretary) on 01670 819459 – if he is not in please leave a message – or Syd Johnson (President) on 01670 531224.