This evening Hatfield meet Collingwood in a Floodlit Cup semi-final match described by Durham’s college sport President, Tom Newman, as “massive”.
The two teams hold the top two places in the men’s football premiership and both are keen to do the double, by winning the league and cup.
Palatinate spoke to Hatfield captain Chris Drakeford-Lewis ahead of the contest. Both teams go into the match on the back of the York-Durham Varsity event, which saw Durham run out 37-27 overall winners.
Whereas Hatfield convincingly won their Varsity match 7-2, Collingwood were beaten by a goal in the last five minutes, losing 2-1. Drakeford-Lewis was happy with Hatfield’s performance but won’t be placing too much emphasis on it.
“We will obviously take confidence from the fact we had another win and are really keen to finish the season as well as possible, starting on Wednesday against Collingwood.”
“We know how good a team Collingwood are and won’t be taking anything for granted.”
Nonetheless, he feels Hatfield have what it takes to claim victory, saying: “Collingwood are a really strong outfit and will no doubt cause us problems, but I think we have the quality and desire in our side to make the final”.
When I asked if he was looking forward to the match, he questioned “What’s not to be excited about?
“With no league or cup success for Hatfield over the past few years this is probably the biggest game in our recent history and with the top two in the Premiership going head to head for a place in the final – this one speaks for itself.”
The Floodlit Cup is renowned for attracting a lot of spectators and generating a good atmosphere, and Drakeford-Lewis was quick to highlight the support Hatfield have received so far in the competition.
“We’ve had fantastic support throughout the competition so far and I’m sure it will be no different come Wednesday night.
“The game has attracted such attention that I have spoken to quite a few students from other colleges who are keen to come along.
“I’m sure Collingwood will also have a large following.”
The two teams cannot be separated in the league at the moment, and with the two teams due to face each other in the final league match of the season, there is more excitement ahead.
Overall, Drakeford-Lewis was satisfied with Hatfield’s league campaign, saying: “Any league season that includes only one loss is a decent one – we were bitterly disappointed with that one defeat, a result caused by eight or nine players being unavailable, which has allowed Collingwood to take it right to the wire.
“With a two point advantage ahead of the final fixture with Collingwood we are aiming to give our finalists a good send off.”
However, for the moment focus remains firmly fixed on the Floodlit Cup:
“Floodlit is always a tricky competition. Under lights, with big crowds, anything can happen.”
“But apart from a scare in the last round against St Aidan’s, we’ve been pleased with our progress.
“Our aim has always been to go as far as possible and now we are in the semis we obviously don’t want the run to end.”
The second semi-final sees St Cuthbert’s taking on Josephine Butler on the 12th March.
Photograph: Chris Dearnley