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ESFA / Durham Under 13 Festival of Football 1997

Houghall College (Durham College of Agricultural and Horticulture) was used as the residential base with the matches being played on the first class pitches within the college grounds.

It was most disappointing that the early Easter caused several Local Education Authorities to deviate from the normal Easter holidays. Some associations were still at school as late as the day before Good Friday and consequently the 1997 Durham Festival was attended by only 11 associations. Particularly missed were Newcastle and Peterborough who had attended all the previous Festivals and East Northumberland who had only missed one of the other five Festivals. The associations who have now attended all six Festivals are Allerdale, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool, and Sunderland.

The weather was kind to us during the Festival with storms not breaking until about two hours after the final matches. The first matches on Monday produced an average of five goals per game. Allerdale started with a creditable 3-3 draw against Darlington, Bishop Auckland looked strong during an exciting 5-3 win over Luton and Sunderland were just the winners of a seven goal thriller against Hartlepool.

In the evening the Opening Ceremony was held in the Conference Hall at Houghall College. Mr Geoff Wainwright and Mr Ken Banks, secretary and Chairman of Durham County Schools' FA, welcomed our visitors to Durham for the Festival. We were delighted to have the ESFA Vice-chairman, Mr Alan Heads, present to open the Festival and present certificates and a match ball to the association captains. Phil Dodd of Houghall College welcomed everyone to Houghall and invited anyone who was interested to look round the gardens of the Horticultural College. Visitors to the Festival are always impressed with the magnificent setting that Houghall provides.

This ceremony was followed by a sports forum again chaired expertly by the PFAs Mr Brian Marwood. Premier League referee Alan Wilkie and John Beresford of Newcastle United FC answered questions that had been submitted by the associations. This was an excellent evening’s entertainment and we thank the three gentlemen for their enlightening contributions.

The involvement of the Professional Footballers' Association again contributed greatly to the Festival. Gordon Staniforth contributed two full days of coaching sessions that were most appreciated by the boys. Brian Marwood also did some much appreciated coaching and also led seminars using the PFAs drugs awareness in football video. George Berry represented the PFA at the Civic reception and sampled the matches and events during the following day.

We were pleased that adidas supported the Festival again this year providing Match balls and a ball for each association, prizes for the 5-a-side finalists and the Fair Play Award for the association judged by the referees to have best shown the true spirit of schoolboy and Festival football. Mike Leigh and Shay Boyd provided players with sessions testing the adidas Predator boots.

The second day again saw plenty of goals with big wins for Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool and Gravesham. In the afternoon Luton and Leeds visited the Gateshead Metro Centre for the afternoon.

In the evening many thanks are due to Durham officials Alan Johnston. John Shippen and Tony Carter who assisted by one of our young referees, organised a 5-a-side session to keep the boys busy whilst the staff (both residential and non-residential) were the guests of Durham County Council at County Hall. Councillor John Alderson hosted the reception on behalf of the chairman of the Council. He welcomed the assembled Festival staff to Durham and spoke of his admiration for teachers who gave up their time so willingly to enable pupils to participate in schools' football. ESFA Vice-chairman, Mr Alan Heads, thanked Durham County Council for the kind patronage that they have given to the Festival for the last six years and spoke of the long history of ESFA Festivals dating back to the 1965 Under 19 Festival at Bognor Regis. The 5-a-side was won by Gravesham A with Luton A runners-up.

The highlight of the third day was an excellent match between Luton and Darlington which ended 4-3 to Darlington. It was Allerdale, and Gravesham's turn to spend the afternoon off campus with visits to Beamish Museum and the Metro Centre. In the evening the residents enjoyed a visit to Crowtree Leisure Centre for the Wednesday evening. The boys went ice skating and/or swimming.

On the final day there were big wins for Derwentside and Sunderland but the highlight was a fourth tight game involving Leeds. This time they halted Bishop Auckland's one hundred percent record with in an excellent one all draw. In all 104 goals were scored during the twenty one fixtures. Allerdale won the Fair Play Award followed closely by Darlington, Derwentside and South Tyneside.

DCSFA would like to thank Durham County Council, The Professional Footballers Association, adidas (UK) and Durham Football Association for their input into this year’s Festival. We hope that this involvement can continue in the future.

DCSFA again got tremendous support from our local referees. Some referees were delighted to take charge of two matches in a day. All of the referees clearly enjoyed the event. DCSFA thank them for their participation and for their help in scoring the Fair Play Award.

Many thanks go to the Organising Committee from Durham County Schools Football Association for their invaluable contributions to the Festival.

DCSFA look forward to the seventh Festival next year. The date for which is under discussion in the light of the different school holidays. However we hope to renew the many friendships made during the first six ESFA Durham Under 13 Festivals of Football.