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FA Sunday Cup Final - Hetton Lyons 3 Coundon Cons 2
By Mike Love
Some two hours before the Toffees took to the pitch on Sunday, another big game was kicking off, at Anfield, under L4's leaden skies. Down the A1 in their hoardes, they came, those North-East inhabitants of Coundon and Hetton, following their local sides to the final of the FA National Sunday Cup - the pinnacle of the pub-league season.
Both sides had faced Merseyside opposition on their way to the Tin Mine; holders Coundon having disposed of Canada Dock in the quarters, and Hetton seeing off The Paddock in a nail-biting semi at Marine. Coundon (which, presumably, is a much bigger town or village than Hetton) had by far the larger of the support, all seemingly wearing a rather worrying red scarf proclaiming 'Coundon' on one side and, sadly, 'You'll Never Walk Alone' on the other. This obviously impacted on my neutral stance, and I immediately became Hetton's number one Merseyside-based fan.
In a carbon copy of last year's final, Coundon took the lead in the first minute - a free kick from the big lad nestling in the kop net. Five minutes later, Hetton's front-man went down with what seemed to be a bad injury and was substituted. This turned out to be quite fortuitous as the sub, the big lad, made it 1-1 with a looping header. After 20 minutes, or so, it became clear that this was going to be a tight affair, with little to choose between the two sides. Shortly before the interval, though, Coundon made it 2-1, with a low drive from the big lad finding the bottom corner.
Into the second half, and Hetton seized the upper hand, and a cross-cum shot, from the big lad, found it's way past the Coundon keeper; 2-2. The most nerves, though, were coming from me, as it was already getting a bit tight to get across to Goodison for kick-off, and extra-time was unthinkable. Salvation, for me, arrived on 85 minutes, when a ball pinging around the sodden penalty area struck a Coundon hand, and the ref pointed to the spot. In front of the baying and booing Coundon masses, the nerveless big lad stepped up to bury his penalty, and give the Lyons what turned out to be an unassailable lead.
Overall, a cracker of a final (unlike last year's 5-0 for Coundon), and some splendid camaraderie, at the end, between both lots of players and fans. The Corinthian spirit is clearly alive and well, in some quarters, and living in small one-time pit villages, just outside County Durham.
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