Gorleston and Camden Tavern set for Senior service at Carrow Road
All signs point to Carrow Road next week as two of the area’s leading teams get set for emotion-charged county cup finals.
Monday sees Gorleston aim to triumph in the county’s flagship competition, the Norfolk Senior Cup, while on Wednesday Sunday soccer powerhouses Camden Tavern aim to round off 20 years of success by winning the Sunday Senior Cup final – the last game in their history.
Both teams will be drawing inspiration from much-loved absent friends who died in March.
The Greens are being spurred on by thoughts of club president and driving force Jimmy Jones while Camden, who will meet Norwich side Marlborough, desperately want to win for their number one supporter, club chairman and pub landlord Tony “Bish” Bishop.
“I think all the players will have it in their minds that Jimmy is looking down on them,” said Richard Daniels, who manages the Greens with Stu Larter. “But as long as they give it their all Jimmy will be proud of them whatever they do.”
Gorleston are wary of the threat posed by Mark Scott’s Thetford Town – who knocked out Wroxham but won’t be paying them any overdue respect.
“If we play to our best we will win but if we don’t and they play to their best they will win. They have been watched four times in the last three or four weeks but we can sit and watch them all day and they could have two or three players who perform above their station on the night,” said Daniels. “My main concern is what we do.”
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The match (kick-off 7.30) is a repeat of last season’s First Division KO Cup final which the Greens won 3-1 after extra time after falling behind to a Thetford penalty after just 33 seconds.
Thetford have had an excellent season in the Ridgeons First Division, finishing second on goal difference and gaining promotion. They began their Senior Cup campaign in the third round, winning 3-1 at Swaffham.
The fourth round saw them beat Holt Utd 3-2 and then they knocked Premier League champions Wroxham out at the quarter-final stage, winning 2-1. The semi-final saw them thrash Anglian Combination Premier Division side Norwich St Johns 9-0, with prolific striker Matt Dixon grabbing a hat-trick.
The Brecklanders last won the Senior Cup in 1991 when they beat St Andrews 4-3.
Gorleston have had quite a wait since they last won the blue riband trophy too, as they beat Great Yarmouth in the 2001 final.
The Greens also beat Great Yarmouth in the fourth round of this season’s competition, winning 4-2 after extra time. In the quarter-final Gorleston beat Diss Town 3-1 in a replay after drawing 2-2 at Diss.
The semi-final saw Gorleston earn an historic 2-1 victory, again in extra time, against Norwich City Reserves.
The Greens, who will have trained three times this week before the final, will be without the suspended Adam Thurtle following his recent unfortunate sending off against Clacton, the first red card of his career.
With Olly Thomson already injured, and Josh Armes picking up an ankle sprain in the Reserves Championship final last week, the Gorleston management have defensive issues to resolve.
Supporters who have booked a seat on the coach to Norwich are urged to be at Emerald Park by 4.45 on Monday.
Squad: Elliott Pride, Kyle Howell, Thomas Daniels, Reece Hunn, Eddie Thompson (captain), Andrew Howell, Chris Sandford, Gary Williams, Bradley Hough, Liam Harvey-Cooper), Jack Garrod, Christy Finch, Ali McKenna, Keegan Middleton, Mitch Forbes, Steve Taylor, Aaron Bowers-Huggins, Darren Cockrill.