Boro Rangers v Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors, Saturday 6th August 2022, 3pm

This game took place on the weekend of the Stone Valley North Festival and as it was only twenty minute’s drive from the Ushaw Moor festival site I was happy to nip out for a couple of hours despite it resulting in me missing Sleeper and Stone Foundation.

I did see plenty of decent bands though, including From The Jam, with the highlights probably being the headline sets from The Stranglers and The Boomtown Rats.

As you may have deduced from that glimpse of the line-up, it’s a festival for old people. A few people had brought their grandkids, which lowered the average age, but I’d say that even at fifty-seven, I was below the median.

At 2.30 I left Jen, Paul and Strach to get on with their drinking and drove to the New Ferens ground in Durham. It’s the temporary home of Boro Rangers who were promoted to Northern League Division Two this summer from the North Riding League and had to relocate as their previous ground was below the required standard.

The visitors were Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors who were also in their first Northern League season having been promoted from the Northern Alliance League.

It was only three quid in, which is cheaper than usual for the Northern League, although in hindsight I wonder if I was charged the pensioner rate. I asked the bloke on the gate if there were many in already and he went to the trouble of adding up his tally sheet. I was the thirty-fourth person through the turnstile although a few more came in after me including three WAGs who were clearly unimpressed at the distance that they had to travel from the Boro for a home game.

The visitors were in blue with Rangers turning out in Boro kits. Usually that would be enough to ensure my allegiance, but Boro Rangers weren’t a likeable team. They were very aggressive with tackles flying in from the start. That’s legitimate, but they combined their over-physical approach with excessive appealing for every decision and then furiously berated the officials from the pitch, dugout and stands when it didn’t go their way. And often when it did.

The first half passed without much goalmouth action and as the game went on, I found myself hoping for a Prudhoe goal, ideally a contentious one that would reduce the entire Boro Rangers contingent to apoplexy.

A goal did eventually come when a direct free kick was curled with pace into the top corner of the Prudhoe net. It was enough to deservedly take the three points for Boro Rangers and I was able to get back to Stone Valley in time for the closing songs of Peter Hook’s set and to join in with the evening’s drinking.

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