Moving cup finals out of Suffolk proved a great success
NICK GARNHAM looks at the success of the Suffolk FA County Cup Finals in his latest Live Football, Love Football column.
The decision to stage seven Suffolk FA county cup finals at Colchester United was an unqualified success.
And following the positive reaction to this season’s showpiece occasions, Suffolk FA will again be looking to stage some finals at the Weston Homes Community Stadium next season.
Doubts were aired in some quarters regarding the move, after the ground-breaking decision to take some finals out of the county was announced in early March.
Suffolk FA approached Colchester United regarding the possibility of staging finals, after Ipswich Town were only able to offer one date due to pitch renovations and staging the Sir Elton John concert in mid-June.
The Senior Cup Final, which saw Achilles lift the trophy for the first time after defeating Crane Sports 2-1, was the only final to take place at Portman Road.
The finals of the Premier Cup, Junior Cup and Women’s Cup, which were all hosted by Ipswich Town in the 2015-16 season, were switched to Colchester United.
The Senior Reserve Cup, Primary Cup, Under-18 Midweek Cup and Sunday Cup, previously staged at club grounds in Suffolk, were also scheduled for the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The agreement was always subject to Colchester United not qualifying for the end-of-season play-offs.
It was not until the Saturday evening before the first final the following afternoon that it was confirmed that the League Two club would be able to stage the matches.
The seven finals were staged at Colchester United over a nine-day period, and the competing teams, officials and supporters, plus match officials and balls boys, revelled in the experience.
Suffolk FA County Cup Competitions Manager Adrian Moye said: “The decision to play at Colchester United was an unqualified success, and this was in no small measure due to the club making everyone feel so welcome and proving to be excellent hosts.
“The county’s objective regarding county cups, in particular, is to provide players, match officials, coaches and supporters with the best footballing experience possible.
“They all said how much they enjoyed themselves, and both Suffolk FA and Colchester United have also received many compliments on the organisation of the finals.
“Our county cups slogan is ‘Living the Dream’ and we know that we not only achieved our objective but made a few dreams come true as well!”
The ‘Living the Dream’ slogan was visible to players of all teams competing in the ten adult competitions as they walked out onto the pitch past the podium to be greeted by the ball boys waving flags – another new initiative at this season’s finals.
The finals of 20 county cup competitions took place between April 23 and May 15, with three – the Sunday Shield, Sunday Trophy and Veterans’ Cup – staged on ‘Super Sunday’ at AFC Sudbury.
And nine Youth cup finals were spread across the same day at Kirkley & Pakefield FC in Lowestoft, following on from staging 18 semi-finals at The New Croft in Haverhill on one day.
Here’s a few vital statistics from the 20 finals:
- A total of 81 goals were scored.
- Five finals went to extra time.
- Two finals were settled on penalty shoot-outs.
- Nine goals – Haverhill Borough 5 Lavenham 4 in the Sunday Trophy and Lakenheath Youth 6 Cornard Dynamos 3 in the Boys’ Under-12 Cup – was the highest aggregate number of goals .
- The biggest winning margin was five goals – Felixstowe & Walton United 5 Ransomes Sports 0 in the Boys’ Under-15 Cup.
- The highest attendance was 1,190 for the Senior Cup Final between Ipswich-based sides Achilles and Crane Sports at Portman Road.
- The highest attendance at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was 575 for the Premier Cup Final between Needham Market and Lowestoft Town.
- The lowest attendance at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was 250 for the Sunday Cup Final between AFC Chelmondiston and Mellis.
- The average attendance for the seven finals at the Weston Homes Community Stadium was 365.