Deaf Sports Events27th April 2015

Sunderland Deaf AFC Manager Praises Players After Winning the Cup

Winning the England Deaf Football League Cup, Sunderland Deaf AFC win their first trophy

by Callum Fox

One of the most coveted trophies in British Deaf Sport was contested on Saturday between Sunderland Deaf AFC and St John’s Deaf. In a thrilling match, played out in Nottingham, Sunderland were crowned the 2014/15 England Deaf Football League Champions, beating their rivals 2-1.

Goals from Alex Brown and Robert Keegan were enough to secure the win and clinch the first ever league title for the Black Cats, ending a seven-year drought in the North-East.

Anthony Smare’s men got off to a slow start as St John’s dominated the opening stages of the game, Sunderland fortunate to keep proceedings level thanks to several crucial stops by keeper Cameron Sweeney.

However, despite St John’s dominance, it was Sunderland who took the lead through a sensationally struck free kick from their influential Captain Alex Brown. Keegan had drawn the foul on the edge of the box and Brown stepped up to curl the resultant free kick into the top corner of the goal with the St John’s keeper unable to react in time.

As comes with the pedigree of St Johns, they keep up the pressure and it eventually paid off towards the end of the first half when they were awarded a penalty after one of their strikers had been brought down in the box. The penalty was converted and both teams headed for the changing rooms at half time with the game in the balance at 1-1.

A marked improvement in performance saw Sunderland dominate much of the second half but the game broke down into what looked like a stalemate with both defences seemingly in control of the game. That was until ten minutes from time, when substitute Scott Garthwaite successfully challenged the St John’s keeper, causing the ball to drop dangerously into the penalty area. Sunderland’s Keegan was first to react, lifting the ball over the defender’s head and nodding the ball into the empty net , making the score 2-1 to Sunderland.

The goal sparked St Johns into life and the last ten minutes of the game took on a frenetic pace, with St Johns doing all they could to draw the game level. For the Sunderland team and their travelling supporters, a heart-stopping moment came several minutes before the final whistle as a goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall at the feet of a St John’s player, only for Sweeney to launch himself into a point blank save. The ball was hurriedly cleared and the referee blew the full time whistle to spark mass celebrations as the Sunderland team secured their first ever trophy.

Commenting on the game afterwards, proud Sunderland manager and founder of Sunderland Deaf AFC, said, “I would like to thank each and every player for working their socks off for the club, paying out of their pockets for training, home games, as well as travel costs for away games across the country.”

“Without them and their committed hearts, we would never have won the England Deaf League Championship Final! Last but not least, our thanks go to Kevin Darke and the Foundation of Light for their support in helping us to get established in 2013.”

“As we have won the league title, this puts us on the map and we hope to compete in the European Deaf Champions League in the near future. We are always looking for deaf players who will be welcomed to this club as we want to progress into a fantastic deaf football club for the future. This gives them a chance to develop their football at a club run by deaf people for deaf people.”

Photographs by kind permission of Jason Steadman

Article by Callum Fox

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

27th April 2015