Rothbury finally get their hands on Alliance championship trophy
Rothbury 1-2 Whitburn & Cleadon
A first half double from Joe Warren consigned champions Rothbury to only their second League defeat of the season on the day they lifted the silverware.
Classy Whitburn & Cleadon formed a guard of honour to applaud the Reds onto groundsman Eric Cummings’ superbly maintained pitch – and were celebrating themselves after just five minutes of play.
Hot-shot Warren bagged his 22nd of the season for the third-placed South Tynesiders as he got on the end of a clever one-two to smash it beyond Rob Hodgson, who got a hand to the shot but the power took it into the top corner.
He added another to his tally in the 31st minute to deflate the party atmosphere further with another well struck shot. “A quality player,” was boss Dan Herron’s assessment, despite being disappointed to concede.
Whitburn did Rothbury a massive favour by easing the pressure with a mid-week victory at Blyth a couple of days before the Reds secured the title, and showed just why they are in the promotion spots with another fine display.
But the day was about much more than the result and was a special moment for players such as Thomas Hammond, who has come up through the ranks at Armstrong Park, as they were led out by the club’s current youngsters.
“Honestly, playing today and getting to hold that cup is the best feeling in the world,” beamed the hard-working defender afterwards.
“I’ve been at Rothbury FC from the age of nine, watching the seniors at every chance I could get. Watching the Spiders (Stuart Foreman), the Craig Sutton’s and the hay day Micky Olds - they were the idols and I just hope all them lads think the same about me, Greg (Woodburn) and Kyla (Kyle Smith) in the future.”
While the scoreline didn’t really matter, the Reds were still gutted that their 27-game unbeaten run had been ended and Hammond admitted: “Today’s game put a dark cloud over an amazing season. I’ve been pretty poor on the attendance front due to a high work commitment, but I’ve been there as much as I can and I still feel a part of it and I was always so jealous of the lads.”
There was to be no dampener on the celebrations, however, as the club headed with the trophy back to the Newcastle House where Hammond said the atmosphere was ‘amazing.’
“There’s a buzz about the place that’s never been felt since we won the Lancaster Cup a couple of years ago, where I got the opening goal. It feels like we did it for Tommy Sutton and we’re certainly going to have a drink or two for him tonight.”
Manager Dan Herron was also impressed by the reception in the village and said: “It was a class night going around getting the trophy filled up at the local pubs. Sarah Bertram at the Newcastle House was brilliant, she must have filled it about ten times.”
Gaz McCann pulled one back five minutes after the turnaround from the penalty spot as Rothbury shifted up a gear.
McCann has been on a fantastic scoring run of his own, netting 13 times in the last 13 games. James Loughborough’s lung-busting 50-yard run took him into the box before being hauled down, and McCann made no mistake.
“We changed shape and got revved up at half time. We did have a good go at them in the second but it wasn’t to be,” admitted Herron.
“All credit to Whitburn. I’d say they’re the best team we’ve faced in the Second Division. Their front line is quality and caused us a lot of problems. They’re a classy bunch of lads too, and the guard of honour they offered was special.
“We had a few chances in the second half but couldn’t convert any. It’s disappointing that the run came to an end, but 27 unbeaten is incredible for a debut season - and amazing from the lads to keep that consistency,” he said.