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Women’s Pub Cup champs are ready to defend

Incredible journey continues for Shifnal and manager Mark Corbett

The first women’s Pub Cup final was one that the players taking part will never forget.

Not only did Shifnal Town Sports Bar and the Golden Hind from Birmingham get to play at Newcastle’s St James’ Park stadium, but the match itself was a nail-biting thriller.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, the sides shared nine goals, with Shifnal eventually coming out on top 5-4.

It meant they became the first ever women’s winners, after coming through their heat at Molineux, the semi-finals at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium and the final itself at St James’ Park.

Manager Mark Corbett says the team are eager to try to reclaim the trophy they won back in 2019.

He says: “We can’t wait to have the chance to defend the title. The girls have not stopped talking about it since. It was such an incredible experience for them to play there and to win.

It was like a WSL experience for them, from the luxury coach to playing at St James Park. They didn’t stop singing on the bus home and we even managed to get back for last orders at the bar.

It was a joyous occasion for Mark and his team but it has been an incredibly challenging time since.

Not only has the team had to endure the lack of football due to COVID but Mark has had to fight his own health battle.

In September 2020 he was diagnosed with the rare Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The disorder sees the immune system attack healthy cells in the nervous system, leading to weakness, numbness and eventually paralysis.

Manager Mark Corbett with player and partner Natalie Trevor proudly displaying the Pub Cup

Mark ended up paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheel chair for months.

It was only in May this year that his recovery led to him being able to walk again and eventually take his place back on the touchline.

He explains: “It can happen to anyone. About one in 100,000 people get it. It’s curable but it attacked all my nerves and I was paralysed from the neck down.

The team went through a bit of a tough time with me not being around and started to lose a couple as well.

But they are now getting back on track, having made good progress in post-lockdown cup competitions.

The club itself is also in a strong position, with a new £500,000 development, including changing rooms and a new bar planned at the ground.

Managing director Mike Trantor says: “We are fortunate because we took on the club and have not been reliant on crowds. We are building a new development at the club and all the money is in place.”

Now they hope that the Pub Cup will return to be displayed at the club once more.

“We’ve not lost any players and we are raring to go,” adds Mark.

 With the ambition and resoluteness of club and manager, Shifnal are going to be a tough nut to crack for whoever they face in the 2021 competition.

This season’s Pub Cup is open is now closed for entries . A total of 64 men’s and 16 women’s teams, with events at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus and at Bisham Abbey before the finals day at Wembley.

Pub teams will compete for glory and the chance to win free BT Sport for their pub for a year and to see if they can emulate Shifnal – or our men’s champions CJs of Nuneaton.

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