Soapbox: blue moon over Hetton shines on future stars


Midweek. Sunderland (proper) haven’t a game for a week and a half, but Pete Sixsmith found banter, nosh and an entertaining game as the Reserves took on Man City at Hetton. The Blues won, but didn’t do all of the shining …

A damp Tuesday meant the local games on offer were perused very carefully for grounds with plenty of cover to shelter from the pouring rain.

However, by 5pm, the evening was dry, the temperature chilly but not unpleasant and the Sixsmith limo pointed in the direction of Eppleton CW and the Barclays Premier Reserve League clash: Sunderland versus Manchester City.

The Brucester’s policy for the reserves is quite clear: young players only and the younger the better. After two successful seasons in the PRL where the second string was a mix of youngsters and fringe players, Keith Betschin has been directed to bring on the 17 and 18-year-olds who are, we hope, the club’s future stars.

I saw the first home game against Hull, where the Tigers’ more experienced and physically stronger squad romped home; I gather a Burnley side with eight players with first team experience also beat us easily. This time both sides were young, gifted and, in the case of five members of the Manchester City squad, black.

It ended up with a 3-2 win for the visitors, which they just about deserved. The first half was even, we shaded the first half of the second but they were stronger and came out on top in the last quarter. They had some good players; Ball and Poole up front caught the eye and Wabara and Boyota at the back were very, very big 19-year-olds.

But I don’t really think that anyone is interested in the City players. What about ours?

It was a very young side,with Michael Kay the only one with even a whiff of contact with the first team. Our goalkeeper Ben Wilson was just 17 and David Brown and Ben Wood were not much older. Nathan Luscombe, at nearly 18, was probably the most experienced player apart from Kay.

They have been listening to Keith Bertschin and his coaches as they kept a good shape for most of the game. We were helped by a very impresive outlet in Ryan Noble, who ran and ran and ran, scored two good goals to put us 2-1 up and caused the much bigger Citeh defenders all kinds of problems until succumbing to cramp in the last 10 minutes

Others who caught the eye of this observer were the aforementioned keeper Wilson, who ran his area with an authority and calmness that made a mockery of this being was only his second game at this level. He is a big lad and combines abilities to stop shots and also catch centres. Maybe some of those higher up the food chain could take note.

Nathan Luscombe burrowed away well as did an always impressive Adam Reed and the introduction of Liam O’Mahoney (I suspect he is Irish) opened up the Citeh left flank. We conceded a scruffy goal just after half time, took the lead with a couple of crackers from Noble and then Citeh scored two fairly quick ones from outside the area to wrap it up.

It’s always a decent night at Hetton. The conversation is good, the food from the cafe is piping hot and always served with a smile and a friendly word and it’s lovely to see the Under 16s of Hetton doing their version of the Mediterranean promenade, dressed in their finery. I would imagine that the attendance figures for Years 8 and 9 girls at Hetton School will be down today owing to a large number of them contracting pneumonia last night.

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