Rothbury v West Moor & Jesmond, Saturday 14th May 2022, 2.30pm

The Boro’s season is over, but there is still the odd game taking place. This one was the final fixture for both sides in the twelfth-tier Division One of the Northern Alliance League. It was pretty much a dead game in that neither side were involved in matters at either end of the table and West Moor were guaranteed a sixth-place finish regardless of the result. Rothbury had a little more to play for in that if results elsewhere went their way, then they might move up from ninth position to seventh. I doubt that it kept them awake the night before.

The drive up to Armstrong Park was a scenic as it gets. I think that it just about borders the Northumberland National Park. It’s a fair distance though, around seventy-five minutes from Teesside, although as I didn’t have anything planned for the afternoon it was no big deal.

That morning Isla and I had been to have another look at the racehorse. We watched him on the gallops and had a chat with some of the stable staff. Apparently, he’s not one for the minimum distances so won’t make his debut until later in the season when the races get longer. Oddly enough, he doesn’t like carrots. Weirdo horse.

There was a clubhouse, I think, at Armstrong Park or maybe it was just the changing rooms. A few people were stood in front of it, but most were sat along one side of the pitch on a raised embankment area. The smart folks had brought camping chairs with them but most, like me, had found a spot where a level piece of ground met the slope so that there was somewhere to angle your legs downwards. As usual there were dogs in attendance including a spaniel and an enormous Dalmatian.

Rothbury were in red, with West Moor in blue and white. They each had to volunteer a sub to run the line, although the Rothbury lad was so biased that after a while the ref, who rarely strayed from the centre circle, just ignored him. The lack of exertion from the man in the middle wasn’t only limited to covering ground, but extended to whistle blowing. If he could let play go on he did do and on the occasions when forced to blow his whistle he did it so quietly that it undermined any authority that he may have had.

The visitors went two up in the first half, with Rothbury pulling one back early in the second half before West Moor rattled in another two to make the game safe. There was a late consolation for Rothbury and it finished four-two.

At the end the ref continued his minimal effort approach by blowing just twice to bring the game and the Northern Alliance season to an end.

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