It is hard to summarise NUAFC’s season with any word other than exceptional. The 2018-19 campaign has been gruelling for all involved, but their exertions were worthwhile, with the team achieving an array of successes across both BUCS and Northern Football Alliance competitions. With promotions, league titles and cup glories galore, this is definitely a season that deserves to be looked back upon before the end of this academic year.
The Northern 1A Title was won way back in February, with the Uni heading into the lion’s den for an away clash at 2nd place Leeds Beckett. Newcastle knew that a point would seal the title, and even though the past couple of weeks have shown that even the best sides crumble under the immense pressure of such ties, they remained resolute. Newcastle drew 1-1, with the away point being enough to secure the title, and even though there was no joy to be had in the lottery of the playoffs, Newcastle’s divisional dominance saw them claim their first major triumph of the season.
An agonising extra-time defeat to Nottingham in the semi-finals of the BUCS Trophy may have dashed Newcastle’s dreams of national glory, but there was still time in the season for the trophy cabinet to be bolstered. Newcastle took on Cullercoats in the George Dobbins League Cup Final, and produced a comeback that even Spurs, Liverpool and Derby would be envious of. Being 3-0 down at half-time was no issue, with goals from Walden, Douglas and Robinson levelling the tie with the final whistle approaching. Lee Scott bagged the winner in extra-time for Newcastle, capping off the incredible cup drama and ensuring the it was the Uni who got their hands on the trophy in the end.
The title race between Newcastle and Killingworth has replicated that in the Premier League, with two exceptional teams closely vying for top spot. Killingworth may have edged the Uni out in the end, but Newcastle’s Les Todd Benevolent Bowl victory was a chance to taste success over their rivals. This was another pulsating clash in which Killingworth twice took the lead, but a resilient Newcastle twice pegged them back. With the tie delicately poised at 2-2, Chilufya and Zylko struck within 2 minutes of each other, putting Newcastle 4-2 up and putting the game beyond doubt. Newcastle retained the trophy that they had claimed the previous season with a superb display, showing their quality against a talented Killingworth side to write another successful chapter into the story of their 2018-19 season.
With this long season drawing to a conclusion in May, there was time for one last clash against Killingworth in the final game of the campaign. Killingworth had been a tough adversary throughout the season, but Newcastle put them to the sword with a fine first-half display to claim a 4-0 victory. Browne and Ferguson gave their end of season goal tallies a boost, and Scott deserves credit for his expert brace, including a cheeky nutmeg of the Killingworth keeper after a charging run. The Northern Football Alliance Premier Division may have eluded Newcastle but promotion to the Northern League Division 2 beckons, where the club will face off against the likes of Jarrow, Heaton Stannington and Washington. NUAFC will surely relish the challenge of competing against a higher level of opponent, and the prospect of this leap in quality should not concern a side who have been performed commendably this year. With the prospect of involvement in the FA Vase next year and the FA Cup the following campaign, exciting times are certainly afoot for the Uni team, and don’t be surprised if the 2019-20 season is as successful as this one has been.