Whickham v Newcastle Benfield, Wednesday 29th March 2022, 7.30pm

Isn’t British Summer Time good? Unless, I suppose, you’ve got early morning cow milking and electric lights haven’t yet reached your part of the world. The changing of the clocks meant that this was the first evening game in a while where I’ve been able to drive there in the daylight. I went up to Whickham, which is just off the A1, moments before you would pass the Metro Centre.

Whickham were taking on Newcastle Benfield in Division One of the Northern League. Both sides have had a decent season but are some distance off the possibility of promotion.

The game was at The Glebe. Its capacity is listed as four thousand, but with just the one small stand a capacity crowd would mean people having to stand around four deep along the railings. Fortunately, the attendance didn’t quite reach one hundred and fifty, so we all had plenty of room.

I paid six quid to get in, another two for a decent programme and gambled a quid on the blind card. I’ve yet to win a single thing at any of the grounds that I’ve been to. Maybe there should just be a bucket for me to tip the contents of my wallet into instead.

I’d not had time for tea before setting off and so called into the cabin and bought some chips with curry sauce. I got a can of coke but it was too cold outside to drink it and so I stuck it in my pocket and got a coffee instead. It seems that the hot weather of the past weekend was only temporary and with snow forecast I was quite pleased that I hadn’t moved the rescue minnows from their tank to the small pond in the garden as I’d planned to do. I might not be able to put them in there at all now as my granddaughter has filled it with tadpoles from the quarry and I’ve no idea how they would get on.

Incidentally, have you ever given any thought to what tadpoles eat? Me neither, but I didn’t think it would involve me buying, boiling and finely chopping spring greens. I put more effort into the tadpoles dinner than I do my own. Apparently once they grow legs they become carnivorous and if you don’t give them meat they will eat each other. Charming. I doubt the beagle will stand idly by whilst I lob steak cubes into the water.

Whickham were dressed up, as so many teams are in this part of the world, as Newcastle whilst Benfield were in a yellow kit with red trim similar to the one that I’ve a slight recollection of Liverpool wearing in the eighties.

The home side took the lead in the first couple of minutes when a floated cross from the left dropped in at the back post. Two more crosses from the same side led to headed finishes and Whickham were three goals to the good by half-time.

I left the covered stand for the second half and watched from different vantage points on the rail. The slope on the pitch was much more noticeable from the side. You’d think that there would be a farmer up there with earth moving equipment who’d be willing to level it out during the close season.

Whickham added a fourth from a penalty when a defender handled whilst lying on the floor. It was borderline deliberate DOGSO in my opinion so him feigning astonishment at both the decision and the subsequent yellow card seemed a little extreme. A fifth goal followed midway through the half after a rare Whickham break down the right-hand side.

The sixth and final goal for Whickham came after a free kick was charged down and the loose ball cracked home on the half-volley from twenty yards. Whickham clearly deserved the win but I think the six goal margin flattered them and suggested a gulf between the teams that wasn’t often reflected in open play. Still, that’s what the records will show.

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