REAL ale fans are gearing up for their own version of the FA Cup.

Sunderland supporting landlord Graham Ford is modelling the 12th annual beer festival at The Beamish Mary Inn, No Place, near Stanley, on the world famous football competition.

The beer voted the best by a panel of judges at this weekend's event will win a miniature version of the trophy for the team that selected it.

"We are calling it the Firkin Ale Challenge Cup,'' said Graham.

"We decided to do something different and we came up with the idea of getting teams to go to ten different parts of the country to bring back firkins of real ale.

"Each team had to pick a ball out of a hat to see which area they would get."

Twenty ales from areas such as Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Liverpool and Yorkshire will be on offer along with a further ten from local breweries. In all, 2,160 pints will be on tap during the three-day festival.

Money raised by the event will go to the charity chosen by the team whose beer is declared the winner.

The festival starts at 7pm on Friday and will be held on Saturday, between noon and 11pm and on Sunday, from noon to 10.30pm. Admission is free and beers will cost £1.