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Battle for Lord Bedlington’s Cup

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Battle for Lord Bedlington’s Cup

The Lord Bedlington Cup:

Left to right: Mayor Byron Brown, Bob Rich Jr., Mindy Rich, Erie County Executive Chris Collins

Battle for Lord Bedlington’s Cup

The Lord Bedlington Cup:

Bedlington Terriers' Mascot

Battle for Lord Bedlington’s Cup

Lord Bedlington's Cup

It was a nostalgic night for Bob Rich Jr. as over 3,800 excited soccer fans packed the stadium bearing his father’s name, on what was proclaimed by Mayor Byron Brown, “Bedlington Terrier Day.”

FC Buffalo won the inaugural “Lord Bedlington Cup” over the Bedlington Terriers in a “friendly” on Wednesday night, and even though the Cup is staying on this side of the Atlantic, both sides have turned out winners.

The Terriers are from Bedlington, England, a town with a population of roughly 15,000, which has faced some economic hardships, losing thousands of mining jobs, similar to Buffalo’s steel industry collapse. This helped motivate Buffalonian Bob Rich Jr., owner of Rich Products and the Buffalo Bisons, to help the team out.

It all started when Rich’s wife, Mindy purchased the title Lord Bedlington at Christmas for her husband; a title which formally belonged to one of Rich’s ancestors. Rich began looking into the town, and saw that the soccer team needed sponsors for their jerseys. After going over and talking with some of the people, he decided to get more involved; helping fix up their field, buying them a new scoreboard, and bringing them on a tour of the U.S.

Soccer is the sport of choice in England, but not so in the United States, which surprises Rich, saying, “the first game they [kids] start playing is soccer and then it’s like the pied piper comes in and sweeps them out of the city. I don’t know what happens, but I think FC buffalo is going to turn that around… we talk about the help this will be for Bedlington but I think this will be good for Buffalo as well.”

Nick Mendola, owner of the FC Buffalo “Blitzers” recognizes the fact that while the Terriers are trying to compete with other great soccer clubs, FC Buffalo is “trying to go through some major sports” and he feels that despite all the other sports, “there can be room for this growing game, this beautiful game that we love so much,”

As to what’s next for Lord Bedlington’s Cup?

“They’ve already started talking about coming back, but I think next year should be an away game and we should arrange for some sides to go to their pitch to play if we are going make this a true cup, it should be competed on both sides” said Rich.

FC Buffalo would be one of the teams who would be interested in making the trip to Bedlington.

“I don’t know if we could fundraise for it, and I’m not trying to put words in anybody’s mouth, but I love England, and it would be such an incredible draw for us because I can tell you immediately the caliber of player we could attract.” said Mendola

Bedlington’s Captain, Stuart Elliott, a former professional soccer player and a coach back home, has said the Terriers have enjoyed their time in Buffalo and are excited for the future.

“I thought everyone was just trying to please Bob” he said jokingly, “but everybody’s been fantastic…the reception we’ve got from people generally is “welcome to be here” “good to have you here” “hope you enjoy you stay” “hope you enjoy the football” and it has been really really positive… the next thing is bigger and better then the next thing, there are so many surprises for us”

And whether they are going to come back or not,

“Yeah definitely, Bob’s already spoke about the future… and when he says something going to happen, it happens, but not just slightly, it happens on a big scale… if we can come back again or maybe they come over, whatever he decides would be great for both clubs really” said Elliott

When Bob Rich was introduced during the opening ceremonies, the crowd showed its appreciation by chanting “Thank you Bob Rich,” something Buffalo has been doing for a long time, and now so is Bedlington.

He is a “role model not because he’s wealthy, but because he knows what he’s doing” said Mendola, “we’ve been in the same room four times now, and each time, he’ll come over to you and talk to you for twenty minutes, and makes you feel like the most important guy in the room… he makes you realize that it’s possible, you got to do it… Bedlington’s on their way up and Buffalo’s on its way up.”


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