Floodlit finals preview

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On 13th March, the 2024 Floodlit finals will be played. A season’s worth of effort and preparation will come down to only 90 minutes, in front of hundreds of spectators. But who will shine as brightly as those Maiden Castle lights and who will fade into the background? Only one of last year’s four teams involved in finals’ day are gracing the occasion this time around.

Collingwood Women are the only finalists from last year to reach this year’s. They came through their semi-final against Trevs/South with flying colours, claiming a 6-0 win and showing utter dominance throughout the match. Trevs/South themselves had defeated Ustinov, last year’s winners, in the quarterfinals, but were unable to mount a challenge on the league champions. Collingwood have won all six matches in the Premiership this season, conceding only one singular goal across the season.

On the other side of the draw, John Snow face Josephine Butler in the semi-final. The game will have finished the day before this print goes out, so congratulations to the winner! Butler sit second in the league so will fancy their chances, but Snow beat Mildert in the quarters, so this semi-final may well be an almighty tussle. Whoever does reach the final will face an uphill battle against a dominant Collingwood side, full of Durham University AFC players, though the match falling on the same day as some Wearside fixtures so some players may be unavailable.

On the men’s side, Van Mildert are this year’s standout team

On the men’s side, Van Mildert are this year’s standout team. Jed Phillips’ men sealed the Premiership title against John Snow, who they had beaten 5-2 three days prior in the semi-final. Two goals from Durham United striker Ned Ventham set Mildert on their way, before a delicious goal from Freddie Walton and a Rory England penalty made sure of the result. John Snow offered a strong team with multiple DU players, and had claimed the scalp of perennial floodlit winner Collingwood in the quarter-finals.

In Ventham, England, Jonah Blake and Chris Wild, the men in yellow have a wealth of options available from DUAFC’s first team squad. Goalkeeper Max Panzer has transformed the team since coming in this year and has made his way into Durham 2s as well. His save at 0-0 in the semi-final was genuinely unbelievable. Having wrapped up the men’s college futsal title too under DU 2s player Owen Baines, a Mildert clean sweep could be on the cards.

Against them will be St Hild and St Bede. They lie at the foot of the Premiership table with 0 points, but that doesn’t reflect the quality of the team. Fin Gwillim and Zach Alfalahi are available for the floodlit team, both of whom play for the Durham 1s and were instrumental in the team’s BUCS Cup success last season – both of them scored in the final. St John’s offered little resistance in the semifinal as Hild Bede raced into a 4-0 lead at half time. Gwillim grabbed one but it was Fabio Ramzi’s hattrick that stole the show, and John’s’ consolation goal in the second half did little to quieten the raucous Hild Bede fans.

John’s themselves did well to reach the semi-final, as they are only a second tier team in the college league system and were overrun by Hild Bede. Alfalahi will potentially be returning from injury for the final, but he has been absent from the last couple of rounds, so may not start. Both Mildert and Hild Bede brought huge contingents to their semi-finals. Hopefully, the final will see large groups of supporters return to Maiden Castle, including the looming figure of Bedo the Bear. Mildert will move into the final as favourites, but Hild Bede’s star quality means there is potential for an upset.

Image: George Payne

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