The Durham County Challenge Cup. It has a bit of a ring to it, doesn’t it? And a long and notable history, going back to 1884, when Sunderland were the first winners. Sunderland, or Sunderland A, the reserves I guess back in the day, dominated from the start through to the end of the twenties, with nineteen victories before they must have decided it was a bit beneath them, and didn’t win it again until, the now simply Reserves, triumphed in 1966. Bishops won it for the first time in 1892, Stockton in 1895, Tow Law in 1896, Shildon in 1908, and plenty of other names that are still around up to Consett last year. But in the context of today the name that stands out locally is of course our neighbours Ryhope CW, winners in 1978. Must be plenty of those old boys still knocking about, any at the match today I wonder? Maybe nor given we beat the CW on Saturday, but you never know. Anyway a damn fine competition to win, and the two teams turning out at Meadow Park tonight must have a decent chance of lifting the Cup this season, but only one can go through tonight of course. Best of luck to both teams, may the best win and all that.
View from the Cemetery
Sounds like the SoL faithful had a fun day out at Accrington Stanley last week. Sloppy pitch, pouring rain, mistakes and howlers, and a wide open end to enjoy it in. At least in the Northern League you can usually retreat to the bar if it gets too bad. Maybe we should start to sell Meadow Park on its comfort factor, not something you would have thought likely. Accrington are an interesting club, who have certainly had their ups and downs over the years. The first Accrington FC were one of the original founder members of the Football League but soon folded. The current club are the third Accrington and the second Accrington Stanley and have progressed from the Lancashire Combination since 1968 to League One nowadays, so a resilient bunch you have to say. Makes you wonder where RCA will be in fifty years time. It’s the closeness of this here cemetery that always bothers me.
Been a funny old run of games lately. A great win down at Shildon which keeps the Vase run going, which we all enjoy of course, and other good cup results as well against Garstang, Crook and Sunderland Under 23s, but frankly ropey results in the league. Draws in home games we would have expected to win, and defeats at North Shields and Stockton add up to a worrying trend. I think we are still better than that and will prove it as the season goes on, but for now there is no doubt we have yet to consistently perform as we did at the end of last season. There are a number of reasons why, injuries to key players among them, and it is clearly frustrating for everyone but as Sean Dyche says, the only answer is to keep working hard, and Sean would know, wouldn’t he? I remain confident that this will end up being a good season, but I’m not sure how, or in which competitions.
Very good little run out to Garstang the other week I am told, bonny little town, good pubs and beer, very good RCA away support, and a good club enjoying their first ever Vase run. Sounds like a fairly typical RCA performance as well, completely on top in the first half, loads of chances and four goals before the break, game won, then a full scale wobble, followed by settling things late on. Still, can’t complain about 6-2 away. Pity the next round is Shildon, shame for the league to have one of us certainly going out, an inevitable result of the geographical grading system used by the FA. I am not sure that cries of fix are true, but it certainly sways things away from the Northern League. And a bit worrying for us as there is no doubt Shildon are just about our number one bogey side over the past few years. Nearly always problems when we go there, players injured or some such, so let’s hope this time we are full strength or near enough. If we are then there is no need to worry about Shildon, only need to worry what state of mind we will turn up in. If we have our full cup tie fighting head on then Bob’s your uncle. They beat us at Meadow Park earlier this season, but that was more than a bit unlucky; they defended for their lives then hit us on the break. Fair enough, but I don’t think they will be able to play like that at home in a Vase tie, their numerous and vocal fans wouldn’t stand for it, and toe to toe I fancy us strong.