It’s Andy Start’s wedding day in three weeks’ time. But it will have to go some to beat this!
A hat-trick in a county cup final is about as good as it gets for any striker.
So no wonder the 33-year-old Start, a goal-machine who has been amazingly prolific throughout his career, was the toast of T8’s.
The treble fired the Hucknall side to victory in the final of the Notts FA Sunday Senior County Cup at Eastwood Town’s Coronation Park ground.
And given that his bride-to-be, Keely, is the sister of T8’s manager Reece ‘Raj’ Jackson, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll still be talking about it when he walks down the aisle at St Michael’s Church in Linby on Friday May 4.
Ridiculously, the final was played only TWO days after Jackson’s outfit had won their semi.
And they were pitched against opponents, RHP Sports And Social, who were in a very similar boat to T8’s in that they were unbeaten in their league (Newark Alliance).
However, the locals produced an outstanding performance to sweep them aside, even though many felt they’d be leggy after three big games inside a week.
In an even opening phase, T8’s back four of Aaron Short, Danny Hayes, Matt Peberday and Jamie Thomas looked solid and dealt comfortably with all RHP attacks.
While at the other end, Kyle McDermott terrorised the RHP backline with his sharp turning and quick feet. Indeed only a magnificent save by ‘keeper Lee Attwood denied McDermott the first goal from a 20-yard free-kick.
Skipper Danny Hayes then had a goal disallowed before the deadlock was finally broken eight minutes from the interval. Damian Mann played an exquisite through-ball with the outside of his boot into the path of Start, who took one touch and neatly placed his shot past Attwood.
RHP tried to come out for the second period with all guns blazing. But T8’s weathered the storm and settled down to hit them on the break, with substitute Gaz Hayes, on for the struggling Chay Bettridge, causing problems down the left.
The Newark team’s man-of-the-match Attwood made another terrific save to foil a sweet left-foot shot from 20 yards by new signing Jonathan ‘Toddy’ Wass. And he was in action again to tip over an effort from Mann.
Not until the 80th minute did T8’s double their lead. But it was well worth waiting for as Mann released Start with a pass that the striker coolly dinked, first time, over the onrushing goalie.
RHP responded by throwing everything at their rivals -- and were rewarded with a goal from Ricky Brewer, whose looping header caught out ‘keeper Jake Pearson.
It resulted in a few nervy moments in which Mann had to head off the line from a corner that nearly flew straight in.
But T8’s put the tie to bed in the third minute of stoppage time when Start latched on to Hayes’s pass to cleverly curl home and complete his treble.
FIVE DAYS later, T8’s returned to Notts Sunday Morning League, Premier Premier Division action with a vital 2-1 win over leaders Nuthall.
And guess who bagged both of their goals? Yes, that man Start!
Sloppy defending enabled Jason Russell to give Nuthall an early lead. But Start volleyed home from a corner on 37 and snatched a dramatic 85th minute winner on the break, drilling a shot through the ‘keeper’s legs.
In between time, substitute McDermott also missed a penalty. But Nuthall very much had the locals on the back foot, hitting the woodwork, and T8’s had to show great character.
The win preserved their unbeaten record and left them clear favourites for the title.
T8’S LINE-UP: Pearson/ Conn, Brooks, Hayes D., Short, Mann, Murray, Ryan, Davies, Start A., Peberday. Subs: McDermott, Gamble, Hayes G., Mee.