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Russell’s pride as PHC clinch eleventh Cup

Cup legend: Russell holds the FA Cup after his beloved PHC’s win (Photograph by Colin Thompson)

PHC Zebras legend Earl “Townsey” Russell added a touch of nostalgia to Sunday’s FA Cup final at the National Stadium.

The 88-year-old former PHC forward watched on proudly from the grandstand as his beloved club edged North Village 1-0 in extra time to win the prestigious competition.

Full back Daren Usher’s strike in the second period of extra time catapulted Zebras to an unprecedented eleventh FA Cup title, leaving Village tied with Somerset Trojans with nine wins apiece.

Russell, who won four of PHC’s FA Cup titles during his heyday, was delighted to see his team win, but felt that Village were the better team on the day.

“I thought Village outplayed PHC but came up short,” Russell said. “It was a hard-fought match and I was happy to see PHC win. It’s been eight years since they last won the cup and my crew gave them a good lead.

“I was a part of the first PHC team to win the FA Cup and the only PHC team to win it three times in a row. I played in four FA Cup finals and never lost.”

Russell’s great-grandsons Keishon Bean and Marco Warren both featured in PHC’s line-up.

“It always makes me proud to see my great-grandsons play,” he added. “I am so used to it now.

“I thought that Marco was the most valuable player for PHC and Derek Bell’s boy [Village goalkeeper Tahj Bell] was the best for North Village.

“No one around my equal was there, but it was quite exciting to see so many young people at the game. There were a lot of young children there, which bodes well for the future of the game.”

PHC and Village cup finals are always an exciting occasion for Russell as the rivalry pits his daughter Patricia against her husband Shervin Dill, who is the president of North Village Community Club.

“I started with PHC first so I have to be for them,” Russell said. “But I’m also for Village so I couldn’t lose. Both of my teams were in a cup final, which was very good.”

Russell was a member of the first PHC team to lift the FA Cup after edging Pembroke Juniors 4-3 in the 1956-57 final.

“It was a hard-fought match and we had about four or five thousand people at the game,” he recalled. “We took a lead 3-1 and we thought we had it all sewn up and they came back 3-3 to tie it up.

“It was a really exciting game and we had a really strong team at that time.”