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ESFA / Durham Under 13 Festival of Football 1998

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.

The 14 associations attended 1998 Durham Festival this was a pleasing increase of three on last year’s disappointing numbers. We were particularly pleased to welcome back Kingston-upon-Hull, Bradford, East Northumberland and Chester-le-Street & Washington to this year's Festival. Allerdale, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool, and Sunderland have now attended all seven Festivals.

The first matches on Monday produced an average of five and a half goals per game. Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool and Chester-le-Street recorded comfortable victories and looked strong sides.

In the evening the Opening Ceremony was held in the Conference Hall at Houghall College. Mr Geoff Wamwright and Mr Richard Adamson, secretary and Chairman of Durham County Schools' FA, welcomed our visitors to Durham for the Festival. Mr Dennis Fulton opened the Festival on behalf of ESFA and presented certificates and a match ball to the association captains. Phil Dodd of Houghall College invited anyone who was interested to look round the gardens of the Horticultural College. Visitors to the Festival were again impressed with the magnificent setting that Houghall provides.

This ceremony was followed by a sports forum chaired this year by the PFAs Mr John Bramhall. Premier League referee Alan Wilkie, ex World Cup referee George Courtney and Warren Barton of Newcastle United answered questions that had been submitted by the associations. This was an excellent evening’s entertainment and we thank all four gentlemen for their enlightening contributions.

The involvement of the Professional Footballers' Association again contributed greatly to the Festival. Kenny Swain contributed two full days of coaching sessions that were most appreciated by the boys. John Bramhall led seminars using the PFAs drugs awareness in football video.

DCSFA were pleased that adidas supported the Festival again this year providing Match balls and a ball for each resident 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. Mark Leigh and Malcolm Leigh provided players with sessions testing the adidas Predator boots.

The second day again saw plenty of goals with again wins for Bishop Auckland and Hartlepool and an exciting 3-3 draw between Hull and Chester-le-Street. Allerdale won their second ever Festival match defeating Darlington by four goals to three. In the afternoon Luton and Gravesham visited the Gateshead Metro Centre.

In the evening many thanks are due to Durham officials Alan Johnston and John Shippen 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. Durham County SEA chairman, Mr Richard Adamson, thanked Durham County Council for the kind patronage that they have given to the Festival for the last seven years. Richard also presented Durham County SFA ties to Councillor Alderson and also to John Thrush (Gravesham SFA) and Dave Prothero (Allerdale SFA) to mark their support for the Festival over many years. The 5-a-side was won by Hull A with Hull B runners-up.

On the third day it rained and rained! The morning programme was completed but three afternoon matches had to be cancelled. It was Allerdale, and Hull and Bradford's turn to spend the afternoon off campus. A change of venue due to the weather saw them visit the Metro Centre instead of Beamish Museum. In the evening the residents enjoyed a visit to Wet 'n Wild. This new venue for the Wednesday evening was deemed a huge success.

The final day’s programme on grass also had to be cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. However three re-scheduled matches for the residents took place on astro turf. Luton won the Fair Play Award.

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.

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

DCSFA look forward to the eighth Festival next year when we hope to renew the many friendships made during the first seven Durham Under 13 Festivals of Football.