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RNC wins FA Disability Cup for second year running
The College team based in Hereford, at the 'Home of Blind Football', lifted the cup at this showpiece final after a very entertaining match against Brighton & Hove Albion Blind FC.
Pictured above in the goal with the cup are: Back row L-R: Dixie Dean (manager), Katie Christopher (guide), Mo Ahmed (midfielder), Conna Jeffs (attacker), Darren Harris (defender), Tom Bendall (goalkeeper) Front row L-R: Eesa Amjid (striker), Kieran Clarke (captain/defender), Jay Stallard (winger)
The game took place at St George's Park and was televised on BT Sport. Those tuning in got to witness a fantastic display of blind football with some dramatic twists and turns.
With RNC's usual sighted goalkeeper and coach, Dylan Malpas, on England duty at the IBSA Blind Euros in Italy, Dixie Dean stepped in to manage, himself an ex-England sighted goalkeeper.
Tom Bendall, who normally forms part of the coaching team, stood in as goalkeeper and RNC drafted in retired England player, Darren Harris, with opportunities also emerging for less experienced players.
Not much could separate the teams during normal play.
RNC Hereford was leading 2-1 but in the dying minutes Brighton player, Robin Williams (ex-England), scored an equaliser taking it to penalties.
Darren Harris converted the winning penalty for RNC, and team celebrations erupted. RNC retained the cup, collected by Captain, Kieran Clarke.
Tom Bendall, RNC Hereford Goalkeeper, said:
'It was a great game of blind football, probably one of the best games I've been involved in since I've been at the College and there didn't really deserve to be a loser as it was that good a game. We won on penalties - a great achievement and the guys were an absolute credit to the College, great ambassadors, and it was a shame there had to be a loser, but it was great for us to retain the cup.'
Kieran Clarke, RNC Hereford Captain, said:
'We were a bit worried before the match because we had an understrength team with a lot of players for both teams out for the Euros. We were a bit apprehensive on how the game was going to go but we trained hard and kept to our tactics and luckily it just fell into place thanks to Daz scoring a screamer of a pen and we brought it back to Hereford!'
A fantastic achievement and a great way to celebrate RNC's 150th anniversary and here's a picture of Jay and Kieran escorting the cup back home to Hereford.
Making the headlines
You can read, see and hear more about the team's success via the links below:
St Paul's Catholic School News, 21 June 2022
Blind footballer Kieran visits school to inspire VI students
The Bucks Herald, 20 June 2022
Blind Aylesbury athlete discusses 'class' experience captaining Disability FA Cup 2022 champions
Your Herefordshire, 16 June 2022
Kieran Clarke interviewed
by Matt Healey
Hereford Times, 14 June 2022
RNC Hereford win cup on penalties
BBC Hereford & Worcester, 13 June 2022
Football's coming home... to Hereford!
The FA, 11 June 2022
A round-up from the two days of the FA Disability Cup Finals
BT Sport, 11 June 2022
RNC Hereford are FA Disability Cup champions in Blind Football!