Soapbox: the pleasures of youth

SoapboxPete Sixmith, who goes to at least three games a week during the football season, witnesses one of the best at the Stadium of Light. But the players wouldn’t have been celebrating at the Glass Spider afterwards. One of them had to be up for school the next day

Those of us who trooped out of the Stadium of Light on Saturday wondering when we would next see a goal as good as Daryl Murphy’s didn’t have long to wait. Unfortunately, 96 per cent of those who whooped and hollered, as the Waterford Wizard’s cannonball thundered past Chris Kirkland were otherwise engaged on Wednesday night and missed two equally stunning efforts by Jordan Cook and Martyn Waghorn, as we overcame a stubborn and resilient Liverpool Under 18 side.

This game was as good as any of the 100-plus I have seen this season.

Both sides concentrated on playing football and the long ball was used sparingly and sensibly. Both sides were a credit to their respective clubs and it was clear that a number of these young men would make a healthy living out of the game, either at their current club or elsewhere.

The first half was a walkover for us as we outpassed, out-thought and generally outplayed a physically larger and stronger Liverpool side.

A good header from Joe Cornforth (nephew of John) and a chip of exquisite quality from Jordan Cook gave us a deserved half time lead which lasted all of six minutes of the second half, as Liverpool tore into us and took advantage of a lack of pace in the middle of the back four, to notch a penalty and then an equaliser.

Years of practice as a Sunderland supporter kicked in and a collective gloom descended on the 1700-plus fans who began to anticipate a defeat plucked from the ashes of victory.

But we did not buckle. We girded up our collective loins and came back at the Scousers to go back in front thanks to Waghorn. The prospect of being home before 9.30 was ruthlessly denied us when a third equaliser went in and the gloom descended yet again. I thought that extra time would be too much for us.

However, class will always overcome physical strength and we had that in abundance. Liverpool wilted and Waghorn struck a tremendous fourth goal to put us ahead again, and this time they never looked like getting back into it.

Ryan Noble wrapped it up near the end to delirious shouts from his mates from Thornhill School sat in the row in front of us.

For fans who are unable to follow the Juniors here are some names we may well become familiar with in the next couple of years: Gavin Liddle – accomplished full back; Jordan Henderson – stylish midfielder; Nathan Luscombe – hard grafting winger; Connor Hourihane – unpronounceable Irish schemer; Jordan Cook – classy forward.

We have already had glimpses of Waghorn. His persistent, nagging running unsettled the Liverpool defence throughout the game. He has a future. My good friend Willie Fyfie watches the Juniors regularly and his considered and valued opinion is that this is the best bunch we have had since the George McCartney, Kevin Kyle, Thomas Butler group of seven years ago.

Bally has done a great job here – he should be very proud of the team he has put together. Charlton or Swindon away next; if you live down south go and see them!!!.
* Picture of Martyn Waghorn courtesy of A Love Supreme (see link in left hand sidebar)

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