SMARTT North East Ltd were proud sponsors of an historic night as History repeated itself at Belle Vue Park on Wednesday evening, as Sunderland AFC returned to help Consett AFC bring the curtain down on 63 years at their ground.
The stadium will be demolished at the end of the current season but a Kevin Ball’s select-11 Sunderland reserve side returned to play the same fixture that opened the ground in 1950.
Consett Chairman Frank Bell said: “It’s really tremendous for Sunderland to come down and support us, it’s an historic night for the club.”
A storming second half comeback by a youthful Sunderland side saw them run out 4-1 winners at Belle Vue this evening. The friendly, organised as part of the celebrations to mark the end of football at Consett’s home for the last 63 years, was an entertaining and keenly contested one. Consett had much the better of the first half, but only led by one goal. That came on 27 minutes when a Kieran Martin shot was parried by the keeper and Aris Guerin-Lokonga was on hand to head in the rebound (pictured above). It was all change after the interval though, and the catalyst was the introduction, as a half time substitute, of Sunderland’s Tommy Robson. The son of Consett assistant manager David, he levelled the scores five minutes into the second half when he latched onto Ryan Noble’s cross. Noble himself made it 2-1 seven minutes later scoring from the rebound when Louis Laing’s shot was saved. On 63 minutes Robson bagged his second and Sunderland’s third, turning Michael Pearson inside out before slotting into the bottom corner. He saved the best until last though, with a stunning goal to complete his hat trick eight minutes from time. Picking up Elliott’s poor clearance he controlled with his chest, lifted the ball over a defender before volleying home in a goal very reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s against Scotland at Euro 96.
Sunderland senior professional development coach Ball said: “People will look at the history of Belle Vue Park and say it’s a shame to see it come down, but ultimately they are getting something better out of it.
“We have to say congratulations to Consett as an area for getting their new facility, and then help them in any way we can.”