the real fa cup

Jarrow March On

Jarrow Roofing Boldon CA 4-1 Eccleshill United
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round, 16 August 2014

Even by Richie McLoughlin’s standards it had been a busy week.  Profiled by the BBC and interviewed live on national radio, Jarrow Roofing’s chairman, manager, maintenance man, treasurer, groundsman, chief scout and main sponsor was negotiating the incoming transfer of Peter Leven, parting ways with last season’s top goalscorer in the league and overseeing the Roofers’ opening two fixtures from touchlines at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane and the Boldon CA Sports Ground, the venue he built out of a disused car park and an abandoned bowling green.

After working on the pitch, checking the stands and welcoming Eccleshill United to the ground, McLoughlin was back out yelling instructions to his team.  The club equalled their best FA Cup performance in last year’s competition, beating Glasshoughton Welfare, Dunston UTS and Morpeth Town before exiting at Guisborough in a second qualifying round replay.  “The FA Cup is massive for clubs at our level,” he told the BBC. “It can be a chance to make a name for yourself if you do something special, even in this (the extra-preliminary) stage.”

Eccleshill United ended 2013-14 with one cup, a second final and seven league wins in a row, but the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy-backed club’s latest intake of players don’t arrive in the country until September.  The visitors fielded Doug Stevenson and Adam McCabe from last season’s team, new goalkeeper Weston Marau, debutant right-back Jordan Hendrie and a raft of under-19 players.  “We’re expecting to lose pretty heavily today,” a visiting fan confided.  “We’ll be playing catch-up from next month.”

In a disjointed and occasionally tetchy first half, Roofing forced the bulk of possession but scored only once, Jon Wright sidefooting his first goal of the season when Marau left an inviting gap between his body and the post.  Wright, John Campbell and Paul Gardiner – who made the fourth qualifying round while a Hebburn Town player in 2011-12 – had all previously gone close for the home side, Eccleshill responding with a Joseph D’Antonio effort that was held by Andy Hunter.

Marau had kept Campbell out for a second time before Eccleshill worked an opening of their own, Bryan Vandorninick screwing wide after drifting unmarked into the box.  The warning went unheeded, Slovakian forward Victor Balis finding sufficient time and space to slot an equalising goal past Hunter with an hour played.

Enter the prodigiously talented John Campbell.  With just over twenty minutes remaining the Roofing striker clanked a free-kick past Marau by way of his left-hand post.  Shortly afterwards, Campbell buried a spot kick harshly awarded when a Dan Kirkup header struck a defender on the hand and Roofing were through to the next round.  The fourth goal – scored by Paul Gardiner from Kirkup’s second headed assist – was hard on the youthful visiting side but Roofing progress to face either Bishop Auckland or Sunderland RCA.  “A natural striker,” one Premier League scout said of Campbell.  With him in their side, Roofing could go far.

Words & Pictures: Michael Hudson
Michael’s blog The Accidental Groundhopper rocks hard. Catch him on Twitter at Dolphin Hotel.

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