Darlington Railway Athletic v Wolviston, Wednesday 22nd September 2021, 7pm

I’ve worked in Darlo a couple of time, firstly for Press at their Haughton Road offices thirty-odd years ago. For some reason, I’d got Haughton Road confused with the Brinkburn Road location of Darlington Railway Athletic’s ground and so spent a good twenty minutes driving up and down the road where I used to work wondering why I couldn’t find a ground that I’d never previously seen there anyway.

Fortunately, Jen was with me and she took a more sensible approach of using the sat nav on her phone and we successfully spotted the Brinkburn Road floodlights with time to spare.

You go in through the entrance to the social club so if anyone did fancy watching for free then it shouldn’t have been too difficult to evade paying simply by telling them that you were there for a pint and to watch Man United versus West Ham on the telly. There were no programmes or team sheets but the bloke on the door offered to track me down if he could get hold of a team sheet for me. I’m not really that bothered. I don’t keep them, but I do like to have a quick check to see if any of the players are known to me.

Jen and I started off in the covered stand behind a goal. It was a terrible view though and we quickly moved to a better vantage point leaning on a railing along the side of the pitch. Darlington went one up very early on but I missed all bar it hitting the net as I’d been trying to get a decent photo of a spaniel that was sleeping next to the dug-outs. From what I did see it looked to be a spectacular goal.

Both benches were very shouty with Wolviston in particular appealing for everything. We moved a bit further round to spare my eardrums from the needless racket. Wolviston were clearly on top in the first half and a well-worked headed goal doubled their lead.

At half-time we wandered into the clubhouse for a cup of tea. Despite the Man United game being on the telly everyone’s attention was on a cat that had strayed indoors. It hid under tables and resisted any attempt to shepherd it towards an open door. With the players returning to the field, it was still giving staff the runaround and so we left them to it.

Wolviston just about clinched the points with their third goal early in the second half, although Darlington did pull one back before a fourth Wolviston goal finally settled matters. The standard was decent for an eleventh tier Wearside League game, as was the attendance of one hundred and four people, three dogs and one cat.

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