Nottinghamshire FA County Cups 2022 Review
Our County Cup Final season draws to a close, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what has been a rollercoaster of a journey for our flagship competitions.
As football came back from the enforced closure following the pandemic, planning the 2021/22 season for not only ourselves but the leagues within the county was problematic due to the unpredictability of the situation. After consulting with our grassroots community, there was a real appetite to bring back county competitions and with the support the board, the decision was taken to run all but one of the competitions, with the Sunday Champions League format competition being side-lined for the season due to not having leagues winners the previous season.
The Sunday Senior Cup, for the first time in many years placed all entries into bag from the start for a straight knock our competition through to the final. A strong entry list from across the county battled it out over the 4 rounds, leading to two mouth wearing ties in the semi-finals with Sunday Cup between Fanzines United v RHP Sports & Social and the other tie Phoenix Top Spot v Poet Young Boys 4 teams with County Cup pedigree. Both ties were decided by a single goal, with RHP and Poets progressing through to the final at Basford United. The final itself was an excellent occasion, with a bumper crowd cheering on their local Sunday heroes in a tight affair. The two sides could only be separated by a late penalty, with Poets scoring and securing a league and cup double alongside a very credible FA Sunday Cup Quarter Final run.
‘A great achievement with us winning the Sunday Cup Final. A very tough game with RHP on what would have been a great highlight for Nottinghamshire football. The first part of our treble winning season. Thanks to the Notts FA for a great evening and their support over the season. Looking forward to next season already!’
Murphy Lennon (Manager, Poet Young Boys)
The Saturday Senior Trophy featured all our Saturday sides playing outside of the FA National League System, creating a unique opportunity for the lower division clubs to take the scalp of those clubs wanting to progress through the pyramid. Basford United Development were the surprise package of the competition, coming from the Nottinghamshire Senior League Development Division (U21’s) progressing through to the quarter final stages before losing to Newark Town. The semi-final saw Ruddington Village of the NSL take on Newark Town of the CMFL and in the other tie another battle of regional feeder leagues NSL v CMFL line up as Retford United took on Awsworth Villa. Both Newark and Retford came out as eventual winners and set up a tough final game as Newark pipped their rivals only 3 days earlier to the CMFL title. Both teams played their part in an evenly balanced final which could only be decided by a one moment of brilliance with Retford United, taking the old trophy to the north of the county.
‘Winning the Nottinghamshire FA Senior Trophy was a great way for us to end the season. As always it was a tough contest against Newark, one we had to be at our best to win. I think the first half was a good evenly match game. High tempo and end to end, exactly what you want a cup final to be. Second half I think we took control of the game and deserved to get the win. One goal was always going to be the difference and fortunately it went our way. The support and following we had from everyone at Retford was outstanding again as it had been all season and we are glad we could reward them with some silverware’.
Liam Kay (Manager, Retford United)
The Women’s County Cup saw a dramatic rise in profile for this campaign as we made live draws for all the rounds on Notts TV giving it the same platform as the men’s senior cup. From the City Ground to the studio’s, representatives from our women’s teams made the draws and helped to promote their clubs and the growth of the women’s game across the county. The stand out team for the competition was Mansfield Town Ladies, who played every round scoring 16 goals in the process showcasing the development of the club. To be crowned champions there is one team that everyone needs to beat, Nottingham Forest Women, county champions on the past 5 editions they were as hungry as ever to keep hold of the trophy. Mansfield played their part in the final and for 45mins tested the resolve of the Reds, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the Reds eventually ran out comfortable winners 10-1 and taking the new county cup back to the City Ground.
‘We knew that Mansfield would have a game plan and we spoke about being relentless in everything we do which we were a little disappointed in the first half. I’m delighted for the players that they finished the game and ultimately the season, the way we have. We haven’t lost since Derby away at the end of March. We’ve scored 10 in the game and we won the plate trophy which was fantastic. We’ve ended the season as well as we could of and that’s all credit to the group, they’ve worked tremendously and I know they’ll enjoy a break now. I’d also like to mention how great the fans were. To see so many youngsters asking for autographs and shirts at the end was great, we hope this moment inspires a new following for the Club.”
Andy Cook (Head Coach, Nottingham Forest Women)
The Saturday Senior Cup the jewel in the crown of the County Cup programme, featuring all of the teams playing in the National League System and for the first time in several decades representative sides from our three professional clubs. Having Mansfield Town, Notts County and Nottingham Forest taking part raised the profile of the competition to new levels and the live draws on Notts TV became an event itself, highlight being the lowest rank side Selston pulling out a home tie against Forest in the quarter final which pulled a crowd of 950+ on a very wet Wednesday evening. The professional sides didn’t find it easy, as our semi-professional players stepped up to the mark with Hucknall Town taking Notts County to penalties and Kimberley narrowly losing on penalties to Forest, two ties with massive crowds. Carlton Town and Newark FC flew the non-league flag all the way to the semi-finals, but Newark struggled to find rhythm in the semi-final losing out to Mansfield Town, who haven’t won the competition since 1932. Carlton had a different night backed by strong home support, they ran out 2v1 winners against a very experienced U23’s side from Forest taking a major scalp and setting up a Carlton v Mansfield final. The final itself was a tense affair as both sides were eager to get their hands on the famous trophy, but it was a resilient Carlton Town who hung onto a 1v0 lead and lifted the trophy and an historic night for the competition.
‘A really memorable senior cup this season for several reasons. Obviously the previous Covid hit seasons hit us all hard particularly with us being in the semi final and not being able to participate. Also this season has got to be one of the strongest cups in a long while. With Nottingham forest Mansfield and Notts county all putting strong teams out it’s really made the cup a force again. And finally it seems like Notts is becoming a hotbed again with local clubs all either gaining promotion or being promoted so ongoing it’s only going to get stronger. We’re really proud to win it this year particularly beating forest and Mansfield along the way’.
Tommy Brookbanks (Manager, Carlton Town)