On what was a hugely enjoyable weekend at the UCLan Sports Arena in Preston, AFC Halifax added the WorldNET crown to their list of honours, defeating Crystal Palace by the only goal of a close final. Luke Prosser-Holms shot the Yorkshire side to glory, while Paul Sykes lifted the Dave Walmsley Man of the Match award. Elsewhere, Manchester United defeated Darlington on penalties in the WorldNET plate, with David Spruce scoring the winning spot kick.
The tournament opened on Friday evening, with Preston defeating Hearts in the IFA Cup Final, to earn a record 5th success in that tournament. With fans of other teams watching on, a 1-1 draw meant a penalty shoot-out and the WorldNET hosts held their nerve, with Chris McGrail scoring the deciding penalty to secure the trophy. The traditional England v Scotland match also took place on the Friday, with Scotland winning a good game 3-2.
Most importantly, the IFA spirit was in full flow all weekend, with 32 teams enjoying the weekend. WorldNET grabbed the attention of both local and national media, with several local newspapers eager to grab interviews and details of the tournament. Sky Sports News spent the Saturday on site, interviewing many of the teams and footage went out several times on the Sunday.
A number of footballs major supporter bodies were also on hand to help promote the event. Kick It Out and The Football Supporters Federation gave full support, and the FSF campaign for safe standing was backed by the display of the Safe Standing Roadshow, who were on site with their rail seat model. Kitaid were also on site collecting old Football kits to be distributed across Africa.
The WorldNET 2013 Charity partner, The Mark Gorry Foundation, spent the weekend educating teams and promoting awareness of Testicular Cancer. Their charity cross-bar challenge proved to be popular event, with a 19″ LCD TV and pair of Adidas predator boots on offer for the winner. The MGF team also raised vital funds through their charity raffle, with the signed England Football shirt being won by one of WorldNET’s Scottish participants!
Early feedback suggests the change in venue may have re-invigorated interest in the end of season shindig. With changes to the IFA rules meaning teams now have to complete 3 league games to enter next season’s tournament, the IFA committee hopes to see more teams participating in IFA football throughout the new season, which kicks off this weekend.