Albion battle it out at St George’s Park in FA Cup Blind Final
Brighton & Hove Albion Blind FC earned an FA Cup runners-up medal after a valiant display at St George’s Park.
The Seagulls took on RNC Hereford in the Blind Final at the FA Disability Cup last Saturday (11 June), with the game broadcast live to thousands of people on BT Sport.
Blind football’s showpiece event took place at the England national football HQ in Burton-upon-Trent, giving the players the chance to play at the facility where England’s national teams play and train.
The final received extensive coverage in the media, with both BT Sport and BBC South East filming video features with members of the Albion squad.
The game was full of dramatic twists and turns; the announcer labelled it the “best final we have ever seen in this competition.”
17-year-old captain Efe Shimwell put Albion 1-0 ahead before half-time, but two second-half Hereford goals left the Seagulls with a mountain to climb.
However, with just two minutes left on the clock, former Paralympian and England legend Robin Williams scored a fine solo goal to level the score.
The game was decided by a dramatic penalty shoot-out, with striker Darren Harris scoring the winning penalty for Hereford.
Each member of the Albion squad was presented with a runners-up medal after the game to honour their impressive achievement.
England blind football veterans Keryn Seal and Robin Williams were both honoured with golden caps after the game, recognising their fantastic contribution to blind football in England over the years.
Disability Manager at Albion in the Community, Paul Brackley, said that reaching final was a great achievement for the squad.
“The team gave everything they had and I’m proud of their performance,” he said.
“We were obviously disappointed not to take home the trophy, but getting to this final was an amazing achievement for the squad, and for everyone involved in our disability football programme.
“We have a lot of really talented players and it’s great to see them competing at the highest level of blind football.”
The whole team put in a top performance and they can be proud of themselves.
Albion were without three key players – Liam Archer, Brandon Coleman, and goalkeeper Sam Marsden – who had been called up to the England squad to compete in the Blind Football European Championships in Italy.
Despite this, Brackley felt the other members of the squad stepped up to the challenge remarkably well.
“Because of the Euros we were missing key players from the squad, but you really couldn’t tell from our performance. I thought the whole team put in a top performance and they can be proud of themselves.”
Brackley was also pleased to see the amount of media coverage surrounding the event.
He said: “It’s been amazing to see the media interest surrounding the final. The game was live on BT Sport, we’ve had features on BT Sport and BBC news, and some of our clips on social media have been seen by millions of people.
“Getting so much attention from the public is great for the club, great for Albion in the Community, and great for disability football as a whole.”
To find out more about our disability football programme visit here: https://albioninthecommunity.org.uk/football-participation/disability-football/