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ESFA / Durham Under 13 Festival of Football 2005

The College of St Hild and St Bede was used as the residential base for the visiting associations with all matches being played at the University's Graham Sports Centre.

This year 3 residential Associations, Allerdale, Gravesham and Vale of White Horse complimented Bishop Auckland, Derwentside, East Durham, East Northumberland, Hartlepool, South Northumberland and Sunderland as participants in the fourteenth ESFA/Durham Festival of Football. For the first time, the College of St Hild and St Bede - regarded by many, over the years, as one of the premier Teacher Training establishments in the country - provided the residential base with the pitches at near by Maiden Castle being used for matches.

The Opening Ceremony took place in the Joachim Room at the College with Mr Geoff Wainwright (Durham Festival Secretary); welcoming and introducing: Mr Kevin Wilbur (ESFA Vice Chairman); Mr Jack Hall (Vice Chairman DCSFA) Mr Richard Jobson (PFA/Forum Chairman); Mr George Courtney (UEFA Delegate/former World Cup referee/Forum Guest); Mr Marcus Stewart (Sunderland AFC/Forum Guest); residential staff; boys and parents. Mr Kevin Wilbur presented ESFA ties to chief guests including Mr Geoff Wainwright in recognition of his diligent work in leading the Festival team over the years. Certificates were presented to all boys noting their attendance and the evening culminated in a most enjoyable football forum during which all present were both entertained and informed The first day football highlights centred round wins for East Durham, Allerdale, East Northumberland and Bishop Auckland, with Derwentside holding out to a goal apiece draw with Gravesham. In all, 22 goals were scored.

The second day goal tally took the total to 40 with the help of wins for Bishop Auckland, Sunderland, Allerdale and Derwentside. East Northumberland drew with East Durham with neither side able to break the deadlock. Richard Jobson provided information on 'Drugs Awareness' for boys and once again ex-Sunderland AFC player, Gary Bennett, on behalf of the PFA, conducted coaching sessions for residential teams. In the evening the football activity for residents was complemented by a visit to Wet 'n' Wild Water Park.

Day three brought 5 very free scoring games, with no fewer than 24 goals being added to the total. Allerdale, East Durham, Vale of White Horse and Bishop Auckland all won their matches whilst Derwentside drew with Hartlepool. During the evening officials and staff were guests of Durham County Council at a Civic Reception hosted by County Councillor Fenwick (father of ex-player Terry Fenwick). John Robson (ex-ESFA Chairman), Fred Fullerton (DCSFA Secretary) and young referee Lee Dines staged a 5-a -side competition at the near by Graham Sports Centre, which was won by Vale of White Horse.

On the final day, 12 goals were scored. Vale of White Horse, East Northumberland, Sunderland and East Durham all drew. Bishop Auckland and Allerdale both finished their week with wins and a 100% record. At lunch, the Allerdale captain gave the traditional and legendary 'vote of thanks', whilst the Bishop Auckland squad was presented with the 'Fair Play' Award.

Many referees were again delighted to assist, with some refereeing two matches per day. Particular thanks must go to these gentlemen for their invaluable support, not only of the Festival but also for their help throughout the season.

Statistics showed that during the 19 games played, 76 goals had been scored with goalkeepers maintaining 5 clean sheets. Boys were once again keen to show to spectators that the spirit of Schools' football is still present whilst the Festival provided a safe and free environment for boys to demonstrate their skills and talents.

Although the weather had not been as kind as in previous years - indeed it had rained non-stop for three days prior to the Festival - the condition of the pitches at Maiden Castle was a testament to the skill of the ground staff.

The financial support given by the PFA and especially Durham County Council, to ensure that the cost of the Festival is kept to a minimum for both residents and non-residents, is often overlooked. The Festival Committee, in future, with the support of those involved, will seek ways of re affirming this.

In conclusion, thanks are due to following for their assistance and support: staff accompanying teams; parents; referees; staff at the College of St Hild and St Bede, Maiden Castle and the Graham Sports Centre (Durham University); Durham County Council; the PFA and the Durham County Schools' organising committee.

We look forward to the next ESFA / Durham Festival in 2006.