This morning saw the first of the three Divisional Cup finals. Collins Park, Blackpool was the venue for the Division 4 Cup final between Metrostars FC and the Sun Inn FC. Glorious spring conditions for the 10:30 kick off. Both teams were unfancied to reach the final earlier in the season but having done so, they were both intent on enjoying every minute of it. Who would go on to lift the silverware?
Yesterday morning, Collins Park received a nice cut and trim in anticipation of today's Division 4 Cup final and this combined with blue skies, no wind and warm sunshine we couldn't have hoped for better conditions. With three league games left to play the Sun Inn FC still have an outside chance of runners up spot although with a seven point gap between them and current incumbents No 1 Club FC this looks unlikely. Five wins from the last six had placed them second in the form table behind likely champions Stable Bar FC who were the last team to beat them. Manager Michael McHenry's team had reached today's final following wins against the Waterloo Pub, DH Gas and the Stable Bar.
Today's other finalists were Metrostars FC. The team were sixth in the Division this morning and with one game left to play it looks very much as though that's where manager Chris Paul's side will finish. Gledhill Cup interest ended in Round 1 after a 3-1 defeat to Grand Designs FC. In order to reach this morning's final they had to put out Philharmonic FC, Fylde Coast Vets and Lane Ends Reserves FC. In the two league games between the pairing, the Sun Inn FC had come out on top having taken all six points. This, along with recent form placed the Sun Inn FC as strong favourites at the local book-makers but Cup football is an unpredictable science.
Both teams were relegated last season thanks to their lowly finishing positions in Divisions 2A and 2B. Both teams had re-grouped and after mixed starts appeared to improve as the season went on. Today's Cup final was a reward for those efforts. Few would have predicted the line-up for this final so both teams were making the most of it fully intent on enjoying every minute. Cup finals don't come along very often for Sunday footballers in the lower leagues and that makes it one of the best occasions of the season.
The referee for today's final was Simon Moore. Conditions were perfect for the 10:30am kick off with a sizeable crowd enjoying the warm weather. The Sun Inn kicked off wearing their orange strip.
The Sun Inn FC 2010/11
Referee Simon Moore alongside George Robinson (Left) and Adam Bensurti
Metrostars FC 2010/11
All smiles prior to kick off
The Sun Inn FC kick off
Sun Inn manager Michael 'Ron Fatkinson' McHenry dishes out the hairdryer treatment
Metrostars FC Chris Paul far calmer
Fag on the bench
Ryan (Left) and Stuart Wilson had a good battle all morning
Sunn Inn keeper Monty resplendent in full dayglo Wonga kit
Young Sun Inn FC supporters
Metro's keeper Matt pulled of a couple of good saves with his legs early on as the Sunn were in the ascendency
Wes Renshaw (Right)
A good venue to keep a critical eye on the boy's cricket practice next door at South Shore Cricket Club
Fine margins – in the above picture Wilson's effort was smothered by Monty – a great chance to put Metrostars in the lead.
A minute later and referee Moore awarded what looked to be a 'generous' penalty to the Sun Inn FC. We'll wait for the Blackpool TV coverage for 'trial by television'.
Mark Yates (Far left) sends keeper Matt the wrong way from the spot. 0-1
Paul Haslam (Right)
Half time score : Metrostars FC 0 – 1 The Sun Inn FC
Lots of fans out watching both sides this morning
Referee Dale Harvey with Chris Giles and young Charlie
Metrostars get the second half underway
Veteran Dave Shields
A great tip over the bar by Monty
Metrostars improved in the second half and not long into it they equalised. Despite the best efforts of the Sun Inn defender, Stuart Wilson's looping header found the top corner. 1-1
A topical T Shirt
The Sun Inn stepped up a gear and regained the lead through Paul Gaskell. A through ball wasn't dealt with by Shields and Gaskell lashed a fantastic left footed strike across the keeper. 1-2
With full time approaching the Sun Inn FC broke clear and settled things with a shot past the keeper. 1-3
Still time for a Sun Inn header to crash back off the bar
The whistle goes and the players shake hands
Final score : Metrostars FC 1 – 3 The Sun Inn FC
Congratulations then to Sun Inn FC who were worthy winners and commiserations to Metrostars FC who more than played their part in a competitive Cup final. The match was well officiated and made easy by there not being one bad tackle in the match. Heartwarming to see a 'proper lower league final' with souvenir T Shirts, programmes, cakes the lot. Credit to all for great day.
Metrostars FC collect their runners up medals
The Sun Inn FC lift the Division 4 Cup
Division 4 Cup winners 2010/11 – The Sun Inn FC