Monday, March 15, 2010

Durham City's 28-game losing streak broken at last

Source: Journal Live

Mar 15 2010 by Neil McKay, The Journal

Penalty hero Rhys Jobling of Durham City FC whose save helped his team hang on for their first win of the season. Pictured with from left team mate Paul Taylor, Physio Gary Miller and Dickie Ord Manager

THE heroes of England’s least successful football team were celebrating the season’s first victory yesterday – by watching a re-run on video.

After 28 successive defeats striker Elliot Cutts scored the winning goal and keeper Rhys Jobling saved a penalty to hand Durham City a 2-1 victory away to FC United of Manchester in the Unibond League Premier Division.

It still left them bottom by 26 points. In fact, thanks to a points deduction imposed earlier in the season, Durham still need to find another win to get back to zero points. But that hardly mattered when the final whistle blew.

The oddly-named Manchester team – formed five years ago by Manchester United supporters disillusioned with their club being bought by the American Glazer family – play in front of 2,000 plus crowds at Gigg Lane, Bury.

Durham are lucky to get one tenth of that figure for their home games at New Ferens Park, and would probably appreciate a little bit of help from even the most controversial of millionaires.

Since the majority of the first team squad walked out at the beginning of this season following a cash crisis, Durham have found life extremely tough in the Unibond League Premier Division, which is three divisions below the Football League.

The team, known as the Citizens, is made up primarily of students who before Saturday had played 28 games without a win, leaking 137 goals and scoring just 16.

A catastophic season took a turn for the worse last month when manager Lee Collings was banned for the rest of the season and the team docked six points after Collings, desperate to get out a side, fielded a player under a pseudonym in two games.

It all got a bit much for keeper Rhys, 20. Stand-in boss Dickie Ord admitted one defeat last month had left Rhys in tears. “He’s such an easy-going lad and it is difficult to see that because he’s a good kid,” he said at the time.

“I told all of them it is nobody’s fault that we’re in the position we’re in except the people who let them down before the season. They have worked their socks off and it’s been an experience for them all.”

All that was forgotten on Saturday after the team, which had started to threaten to at least take a point on a couple of occasions, went all the way and grabbed a deserved victory.

A delighted Rhys, who claims the statistics overlook the fact he has “saved more than I have let in,” said the feeling yesterday was “like winning the cup final”.

“We are still on a high. It was a great feeling when the final whistle went. To win in front of more than 2,000 people, the biggest crowd I have played in front of, made it extra special.”

Elliot, also 20, broke off from watching a re-run of his goal scored from an audacious lob over the goalkeeper from near the half way line, to say: “We’ve been getting messages of congratulations from other teams in the league and also from former Durham players.”

Yesterday the club website was inundated with congratulatory messages from officials and fans from other Unibond teams.

One message read: “Congratulations from all at Bradford Park Avenue on your first points of the season. A brilliant result and I’m sure a great journey home for all of you. The biggest cheer of the season rang out in our clubhouse when your result came in, bigger than for our own result on the day!”

Tomorrow evening Durham are at home to Whitby Town – the nearest they have to a local derby – and officials are hoping for a bumper crowd in the wake of Saturday’s win.

The Citizens may have a long way to go – but the only way is up.