North Shields U18 v Morpeth Town U18, Monday 27th September 2021, 7pm

I’ve no recollection of ever having been to the Tynemouth area, other than to the Wet and Wild swimming centre when my kids were small. When looking for the Daren Persson Stadium online I noticed a beach and a castle nearby so Jen and I set early to have a pre-match wander around.

We parked up near the Aquarium and went down onto the beach. Despite the cold there were a few people around. Most of those who ventured into the water were in wetsuits but a few teenagers were braving it in shorts. We had the dog with us, as did a few other people, and it was only when we were leaving the sand that we noticed a sign prohibiting dogs until the first of October. I doubt the enforcement officers will read this, so we’ve probably got away with it.

At one end of the beach is Tynemouth Priory and Castle. It was shut by the time we arrived so we could only view it from outside. I keep meaning to rejoin English Heritage and when I get around to it we’ll probably pay a return visit, perhaps tied in with a game at nearby Cullercoats.

The game that we were attending was in the FA Youth Cup between North Shields U18 and Morpeth Town U18. We paid four quid to get in which struck me as high for a kids match, but I don’t suppose you get much for that these days. I looked at going to the cinema the other day and tickets were fifteen quid. That was just for regular seats. Add in a similar amount for drinks and snacks and a trip to the pictures makes four quid for football seem like a bargain.

We took seats in the covered seated stand. It was only later that I noticed that we were sat in the area reserved for visiting officials. As with the beach, I’m not one to deliberately flout the rules, but I find I’m getting less and less observant these days.

North Shields were in yellow and green with Morpeth in light and dark blue. There was an early goal from North Shields and a prompt equalizer from the visitors but after that North Shields took control and rattled in goals at a steady rate.

At half-time I went into the club house for a cup of tea. There wasn’t any food although I could see a stack of pre-cut buns through the kitchen doorway. At least at the pictures I could have had an over-priced and under-cooked Westlers.

There was something on the wall telling me that Malcolm MacDonald was the North Shields President. I didn’t see him around, although he may very well have been stood nearby for all I tend to notice.

The second half was more of the same with the Morpeth defence failing to pick people up and being punished for it. Their number four looked a decent player who tried to make things happen but in the absence of support from his team mates he would invariably hang on to the ball for longer than he should have and end up conceding possession.

The game finished six-one and so North Shields progressed to the next round.

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