Forget South Africa 2010, as I’m sure the England supporters amongst you have tried your best to do, the big global summer football tournament took place in Leeds over the weekend just passed and featured our own Donny R’sonists. The team of Rovers supporters were one of 80 sides in action at Boddington Hall in the annual football fan spectacular, WorldNET.
The R’sonists had been handed a tough group for day one of the tournament on Saturday as they came up against some of the IFA’s top sides; those representing Bury, Castlerock and West Brom. First up against Donny were the Lancastrians of Bury ‘B’ and in first of their half an hour, 11-a-side matches, the R’sonists were caught on the back-foot. A fine long-range strike and a well taken one-on-one goal putting Bury 2-0 up at half-time. Undeterred the R’sonists went for broke in the second half and pulled a goal back as Joe Stevens headed home a near-post corner from Callum Smith on the left. However, that was to be as good as it got as Donny began with a 2-1 loss.
Next up for Donny was the Irish side Castlerock and a frustrating game of few chances ultimately ended goalless though the R’sonists were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Stevens was spent sprawling in the area. One last chance to make it into the premier Cup competition (and earn a lie-in) for the R’sonists then as they came up against group favourites West Brom for their final match with the Bury ‘B’ lads on the sideline cheering and singing in support of the Donny side.
In a tough game both teams had chances in the first half with Stevens and Greg Sill both unlucky not to profit from decent opportunities as Donny looked good on the break. West Brom were having the better of possession though, but were held at bay by some fine defending from captain Matt Harriman and veteran full-back Alan Brown (to quote the watching Bury lads; “The silver-fox is bossing it”). When the Baggies did get beyond the defence they were first denied by the alertness of ‘keeper Dave Burkett, who came off his line to make a fine save, and secondly, when they did get the ball in the net, by the offside flag.
In the second half West Brom continued to press and eventually took the lead with five minutes remaining as a deep cross from the left was met by a well taken header at the far-post. The Albion fans, needing a win, now had one foot in Sunday’s Cup competition, but the R’sonists were not ready to roll-over as one West Brom player discovered as he caught a hefty Harriman clearance full in ‘the Baggies’ from close range. With time running out the R’sonists made one last push. Harriman and Glen Wilson exchanged passes in the centre of the field with the former spreading it to Alan Cullingworth on the left, he in turn fed Smith and cutting in from the left the young forward curled a glorious effort just under the bar to send the crowd wild (well, it got a cheer from the Bury lads at least). The full-time whistle sounded soon after with a draw sending both teams into Sunday’s knock-out Plate competition where Donny were drawn against AFC Wimbledon.
And so a rum-soaked and/or sleep-deprived R’sonists squad trudged out in the West Yorkshire morning sunshine for a 9am date with the Dons on pitch 4. A well contested and even game ended goalless and went to extra-time, but without a golden goal to speak of it went on to a penalty shoot-out. Though Marc Cartlidge was to put his effort over the bar, a save from Burkett and a miss from AFC Wimbledon was enough to ensure progression for the R’sonists. The 6-5 victory setting up a second round fixture against Dunfermline.
The Scots had the benefit of an opening round bye and so as the R’sonists were taking first round spot-kicks their opponents had been enjoying a casual breakfast and looked much the fresher for it. However, though the R’sonists’ problems in front of goal continued the Scottish side failed to take advantage of their rest and this game too ended goalless and went on to a penalty shoot-out. Sadly this time luck favoured the R’sonists opponents and after sixteen spot-kicks it was Dunfermline who progressed with a 6-5 win. The Scottish side had played the game in the right spirit and shared a joke throughout, and on the balance of play deserved their win. If Donny’s competition was to end at the hands of any opponent I think we were all quite happy for it to be theirs.
The R’sonists summer football was not quite over as they played out a friendly game with Dundee United, which the Scots won 1-0. The tournament continued though with three further rounds played in both the Cup and the Plate as well as the latter stages of the Veterans Bowl. In the end the Cup tournament was won by Bradford City, who defeated Racing Club Lens in the Final. The Jonny Bramley Plate Final was won by ASB Queens Park Rangers who defeated Leicester City, with AFC Halifax lifting the Big Tam Veterans Bowl with victory over Arsenal Nigeria.
As one half of the R’sonists management/organisation duo may I take this opportunity to not only thank those who turned out for the Donny team over the weekend, but also our opponents and the match officials over the course of the weekend. The majority of those we faced played the game in the right spirit and were a joy to play against. The WorldNET tournament remains a high-point of our calendar, and huge credit is due to the organisers Roger Goodair and John ‘Betty’ Boocock and friends for their continuing hard work.
Donny R’sonists WorldNET 2010 squad; Dave Burkett, Alan Brown, Paul Buckle, Ian McKenzie, Jonathan Orridge, Richard Dillon, Matt Harriman, Glen Wilson, Alan Cullingworth, Paul Cuffling, Marc Cartlidge, Martin Robson, Greg Sill, Joe Stevens, Christian Baker, Callum Smith, Andy Harriman, Matt Smith