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ESFA / Durham Under 13 Festival of Football 2006

St Aidan’s College (University of Durham) was used as the residential base for the visiting associations with the matches being played at either the University's Graham Sports Centre or Racecourse Ground.

This year six residential Associations, Allerdale, Copeland, Gravesham, Leeds, Luton and Spen Valley complimented nine local Associations as participants in the 15th ESFA/Durham Festival of Football. St Aidan s College of the University of Durham provided the residential base.

The Opening Ceremony took place in the Lindisfarne Centre of St Aidan's College, with Mr Jack Hall (DCSFA Chairman) introducing and welcoming: Mr Geoff Wainwright (Festival Secretary), Mr Richard Jobson (PFA/Forum Chairman); Dean Whitehead (Sunderland AFC/Forum Guest); Neil Collins Sunderland AFC/Forum Guest); Mr George Courtney (Forum Guest and ex FIFA Referee); Mr Alan Johnston (ESFA); residential staff, boys and parents. Certificates were presented to all boys, commemorating their attendance and the evening culminated in a most enjoyable football forum during which all present were both informed and entertained.

On the field, first day football highlights centred round wins for Allerdale, Copeland, Sunderland and Luton with Gravesham drawing with West Tyne. In all 18 goals were scored.

A further 20 goals were scored during the second day through wins for Allerdale, Leeds, Darlington, Derwentside and Chester-le -Street. Ex-Sunderland player, Gary Bennett conducted coaching sessions, on behalf of the PFA, for Gravesham, Luton, Spen Valley and Allerdale. ESFA Chairman, Mr Kevin Wilbur (ESFA Chairman) visited matches, after opening the nearby North Tyneside Festival and before setting off to the Isle of Wight Festival. That evening, officials, staff, referees and visitors were guests of Durham County Council who provided a Civic Reception and Welcome. Thanks must be expressed to all Members present-especially Durham County Council Chairman, County Councillor Ernie Foster. In the absence of the ESFA Chair and Vice Chair, Mr Dennis Fulton (ESFA Chairman 02/03) replied on behalf of the ESFA. At the same time, at the nearby Graham Sports Centre, John Shippen and Alan Johnston, accompanied by young referee Lee Dines, staged a 5-a-side tournament that was won by Luton B with Leeds B as runners up. This was competitive yet friendly and played in a sportsman-like fashion.

Residents took the opportunity, during day two, to view the PFA's video outlining the temptations and highs and lows facing young footballers, as they set out towards a career in the professional game.

The day three goal tally increased to 72, with wins for Chester-le-Street, Allerdale, Hartlepool, Sunderland Copeland and Derwentside. Luton drew with Middlesbrough, as did Leeds and East Durham. The Chair of Durham County Council, Councillor Ernie Foster visited several matches during the day, in between welcoming European guests on an exchange visit to Durham. Gary Bennett concluded his coaching sessions with Copeland and Leeds. Gravesham, Allerdale, Spen Valley and Luton visited the Metro Centre. Indoor Bowling complimented the football activity for everyone later in the evening.

On the final day, Gravesham, Chester-le-Street, Sunderland, Bishop Auckland and Derwentside won their remaining matches, whilst Allerdale maintained their 100% record by beating Darlington.

Many referees were once again delighted to assist - some refereeing two matches in a day! Sincere thanks must go to this stalwart group for their invaluable support, not only during the Festival but also for their help throughout the season as well. Match referees were presented with a plaque in recognition of their support.

Although slightly down on last season's total goal tall, statistics showed that during the 27 games played, 97 goals were scored, with goalkeepers maintaining 11 clean sheets. 272 boys were given the opportunity to express themselves in a safe, free and friendly environment, demonstrating their skills and talents against others of like-mind, taking from their experience a taste of true 'Festival Spirit'.

Boys were fully appreciative of the time and effort spent by everyone in making the Festival a success - the Allerdale captains once again, presented a formal 'Vote of Thanks' after lunch on the final day. Spen Valley and Derwentside were joint winners of the 'Fair Play' Award.

A Festival like this needs an enormous amount of planning. In conclusion, I would wish to thank the following for their assistance and support: staff accompanying teams; parents; referees; staff at St Aidan's College, the Racecourse, Maiden Castle and the Graham Sports Centre; Durham County Council; the PFA and the Durham County Schools' FA Festival Committee - many of whom have been involved in organizing all previous Festivals.

We look forward to the fourteenth ESFA / Durham Festival in 2007 with eager anticipation.