Birtley Town v Durham City, Saturday 2nd April 2022, 3pm

I had some college stuff to do this weekend, but it had been changed late on from an in-person workshop to all being done remotely. That meant that when my involvement was finished by early afternoon, I could look for a local game rather than the ones that I had been considering somewhere near Chelmsford.

The fixture I selected, on the basis of it being less than forty minutes’ drive away, was in the second Division of the Northern League. Birtley Town were taking on Durham City at Birtley Sports Complex.

Birtley were one of the founder members of the Northern League in 1889, but soon dropped out and then disappeared for a while. They were promoted from the Northern Alliance four years ago and have had a steady mid-table season this year.

Durham City have had a disastrous time of it lately, with just two draws all season and a goal difference approaching minus one hundred and fifty. Maybe today would be their first win.

I’d cut it a bit too fine and with the car park full I missed the opening few minutes. As I walked across the adjacent pitch, I saw Birtley take the lead. They were in green and white with Durham in black and red. Maybe another double figure defeat was on the cards for Durham. It was a fiver in with no programmes or team sheets. My strip of raffle tickets was about five away from winning whatever the prize was.

Once inside I took up a position on the rail and watched a collie playing with a burst football. Every now and again he would nip under the barrier with it between his teeth, as if to show the players what he might do if their ball came his way. There were other dogs in attendance including a chihuahua in a green scarf that had its own bed in the tea hut.

After a while I moved around to the small, covered stand on the far side. The potential goal rush didn’t materialise and Durham had their chances to equalise before Birtley doubled their lead just before half-time. There was a hint of offside about the goal and the Durham defence stopped and waited for the whistle. It didn’t come though, causing one of their management team to give the ref some serious abuse. He took it better than I would have and when a spectator suggested that he simply tell the gobshite to fuck off, he replied with a smile “Good idea, mate, but I can’t”.

At half-time I got some chips and gravy, attracting the attention of the collie who saw them as much more interesting than his burst football. Birtley added a third midway through the half before Durham managed a consolation from a penalty towards the end.

It was a competitive game, which suggests Durham are on the right tracks. It would be good to see them get a win before the season ends.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: