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Newcastle United Women's Football Club returned to the North East on Saturday as 2010 FA Umbro Fives Women's Champions.
With over 1500 teams taking part this competition, over 75 local qualifying heats and 7 Regional Finals, it is highly prized and valued by many players and teams across the country. It is the only Five a Side competition with a Wembley final and an experience of a lifetime. With or without the cup, the experience would have been one that the players would have remembered for a long time but returning with the Cup was a dream come true.
The team left Newcastle following a quick photo call at St James Park with the Newcastle United Foundation who were very supportive and helped out by supplying the team with a mini bus to get the team to Wembley. Arriving at the hotel the team were greeted by the news that we were sharing their hotel with a celebrity, none other than Wagner of the X Factor, prompting a second photo call. On Friday with spirits already high the team spent the evening together preparing for their big day. Saturday morning arrived and the atmosphere was fantastic.
The day started with the team registering Steph Eadon (Team Captain), Steph Shaw, Beth Gardener, Megan Beer, Courtney Lock, Nichole Havery, Kayte Brooks and Sam Campion together with Team Manager Sarah Eadon. The next step was all of the team were taken from the Bobby Moore Entrance to the players entrance on the England Team Coach then once inside the dressing rooms they were supplied with their Umbro kit. The competition kicked off with all of the teams walking out through the tunnel to the cheers of the crowd followed by the national anthem. The atmosphere was electric not only from the players but also by their supporters.
NUWFC Blues, now playing in the Umbro all white kit (competition rules) took to the pitch for their first game against Jan FC (Midlands Winners) which was made up of players from the Derby, Leicester and Loughborough football teams. The score was 4-1 to NUWFC. A great start.
Their second game was against Hardly Athletic (London and South East Runners Up) which included the Technical Director of the US professional side 'Buffalo Flash International' and an England player. The score was 1 -1. NUWFC had a number of chances in this game to score a winner but just could not finish. Slight frustration.
The Third game was against Kukri Birmingham (South West Winners) which included players from Aston Villa, Birmingham and an England International. The score was 4-1 which included the NUWFC Captain - Steph Eadon - scoring a hat trick. Spirits were high.
Newcastle were now through to the Semis. 'Great' well for a few minutes as by now they had worked out that they would meet 'The Poly' which was the team who won the Regional Finals in Leeds 2-0 against Newcastle. The Poly team are made from past and present students from Northumbria University who also play for Sunderland Women's FC - with the exception of one player who plays for NUWFC. Still they had come this far and the team intended going even further. Wembley was now the venue for a Tyne and Wear Derby the likes of which had not been seen before. The game was probably one of the best of the tournament on the pitch which even included a little bit of rivalry off the pitch with their travelling fans. The final score was 3-1 and the NUWFC's Blues were through to the final. Speechless, no words can describe
The Final saw NUWFC v Hardly Athletic. It was a fast close fought game with many chances at either end. Special mention to Nichole Havery who made some terrific saves in goal as NUWFC went to the competition without a goalkeeper, so the team shared this role. Also to Beth Gardener who scored the only goal of the final giving NUWFC the title of FA Umbro Fives Women's Champions 2010.
And finally the presentation like all Wembley winning teams, the team had the full package - champagne, photographers and post match interviews.
The NUWFC Blue's went to Wembley for what was billed as an experience of a life time and they got it.
NUWFC Blues would like give special thanks Phil Eadon, Matty Campion and Steve Gardener and also thanks to their band of loyal supporters who followed them to Wembley.
(Report and photo from www.nuwfc.com)
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