Seaham Red Star v Bishop Auckland, Saturday 30th November 2019, 3pm

One of the places that we’ve visited the most in our recent spell in the UK has been Seaham. It all started from a Google search for ‘dog friendly beaches near me’ and it quickly developed into somewhere to spend an hour or two when Jen and I were looking after my daughter’s beagle.

He quite likes water, usually the more fetid the better, although he’s not particularly capable once he’s out of his depth. I recently had to jump waist deep into Billy Beck to rescue him when he failed to resurface and got himself trapped under the bankside shrubbery. At Seaham it was the tide that flummoxed him. One moment he would be stood up to his midriff and then next he would be looking around in a mixture of bemusement and panic as he was lifted off the sand, before getting out of difficulty with an instinctive doggy-paddle. We’ve all been there.

Seaham beach also proved to be a great place to take the grandkids too and without their Mam to keep an eye on them they were keen on climbing the cliff faces. It wasn’t too high, but gave them the best viewpoint for looking out to sea.

If the beach and the surrounding cliff-top walks weren’t enough of an attraction, the place also has a football team, Seaham Red Star, named, I believe, after a pub and not as a nod to the side from Belgrade. And so, as the time of year wasn’t conducive to dipping the dog into the sea, I took myself along to the Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium instead.

It was the usual six quid in for what was a ninth-tier fixture in Division One of the Northern League, with most of the change going on a programme and a ticket for the meat draw. The opposition was Bishop Auckland, a team with a somewhat more illustrious history than that of former pub team Seaham, including a record ten Amateur Cup triumphs.

It wasn’t the past record of the visitors that immediately struck me though, it was their light and dark blue vertically halved shirts. It took me a while to remember, but then I twigged that I’d had them as a Subbuteo team, some forty odd years previously. There can’t be many teams at this level with that sort of accolade.

There were early chances for both sides but it was Bishops that opened the scoring a quarter of an hour in. It brought an immediate equaliser from Seaham, only for the visitors to retake the lead from the penalty spot and then under pressure from the home side, add a third on the counter to make it four goals in an eight-minute spell.

The teams settled down somewhat at that point and we made it to half time without any further scoring. I got myself a tray of chips and gravy and whilst waiting in the queue listened in to the conversation between three visiting fans on the merits of artificial insemination in the farming industry.

Apparently when bulls are involved, they mount something that looks like a pantomime cow complete with a strategically placed receptacle resembling a welly top. That sort of deception only works for bovine bunk ups though as pigs are too intelligent and/or picky for that sort of thing and instead hold out for a hand shandy from, I presume, a farm labourer rather than a vet. I bet the careers office kept quiet about that task.

It didn’t take long after the break for Bishops to notch a fourth goal and for a while I wondered if a rout was on the cards. Seaham pulled one back though with about twenty minutes remaining and with panic setting in amongst the visiting defence the comeback looked to be on. Seaham had a potential third ‘goal’ disallowed as they pressed to get back into it, but the two goal cushion and some inspired goalkeeping eventually proved to be sufficient as Bishop Auckland dug in for the win.

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