Under 13 Festival
The idea for the Festival grew from the practice of a few associations from Yorkshire and Lancashire coming to the North East to play games against Durham associations. In particular Bradford SFA had used Houghhall College as a base to play a few matches. Phil Dodd from Houghall approached DCSFA wondering if this might be expanded and the Festival was born.
The first Festival took place between 13th and 16th April 1992 at Durham College of Agriculture and Horticulture. Nine north eastern associations were joined by four residential associations.
Two local players who attended that first Festival, at the tender age of 13, went on to become professional players. Paul Thirwell represented Chester-le-Street and Washington SFA and Steven Simonsen represented South Tyneside SFA. Paul has played for Sunderland, Swindon Town, Sheffield United, Derby County and currently Carlisle United. Steven started his career at Tranmere Rovers. He was bought by Everton for a then goalkeeping record £3.3 million in September 1998. The achievements of these boys have been overshadowed by another boy who took part in the inaugural Festival, representing Blackheath SFA. He was Rio Ferdinand.
Thirty eight different associations have attended at least one of the 21 Festivals with Bishop Auckland ever present. The most frequent residential team is Allerdale from the Lake District. Carlisle, Gravesham, Leeds and Luton have also been regular participants from around the country.
The Durham Festival has been generously supported, over the years, by Durham County Council and Professional Footballers' Association.