Brandon United v Chester-le-Street Town, Wednesday 9th March 2022, 7.45pm

I had a couple of options for games this evening and if I’d gone to Washington instead, I’d have witnessed a world record penalty shootout that finally ended up with a 25-24 winner after 54 kicks. I imagine that the shoot-out will probably have taken around three-quarters of an hour to complete though and so at times people would have been wishing that it had just gone to a replay.

Instead, I went to Welfare Park for the Northern League game between Brandon United and Chester-le-Street Town.

It was a fiver in and I picked up a programme for a quid. I’m always impressed when clubs of this size produce programmes. With average crowds around the sixty mark I suspect the sales might be in single figures, which is a shame as it was exceptionally well done. I learned from it that Brandon started out as a Sunday League side in the sixties and have the FA Sunday Cup on their list of trophies. They have won the Northern League too, although they are currently struggling in the bottom half of the second division.

Welfare Park looks as if it’s as old as the club. There are some benches behind one goal that are rotting away and the covered seated stand has areas in front of it that have been fenced off, presumably for safety reasons. With perimeter fencing that looks to date from the sixties as well it’s a bit like being in a time-warp. If they do get around to upgrading anything, I suspect that Beamish might be interested in the old stuff. It’s a pity that this was a night game as there looked to be a great view across the pitch to what might have been Durham. In the dark though, it was just a cluster of distant lights.

Brandon were in all red with visitors Chester-le-Street in yellow and blue. Imagine it as Wales v Sweden. Both sides appeared to struggle with the cold and the wind and a lot of first touches seemed to go straight to an opposition player. Brandon broke the deadlock not long before half-time with a header after some penalty box pinball and that was enough to take the points and move them a little further towards mid-table.

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