Ponteland United v Wallington, Saturday 20th August 2022, 2.30pm

Jen and I were up north for a party. It was an excellent evening and whilst I enjoyed meeting new people, the best part was catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen for, in some cases, as little as a fortnight, and others ranging from anything from a few months to thirty-odd years. Even for those that I’d not seen for a long time the conversations fell easily into place as if we’d just picked up the chatting from the last occasion that we spoke.

As good as the party was, I didn’t want to start the drinking at two in the afternoon and so Jen and I headed for Ponteland first and a game in the eleventh tier Northern Alliance Premier Division. Ponteland looks to be a fairly posh commuter village, a place where geordies move to when they’ve ‘made it’. Alan Shearer once lived there, and I imagine that if Ant and Dec didn’t have to work down south they would probably be lunching in the Blackbird pub as we did.

There’s a Pele tower too. Nothing to do with the Brazilian, by all accounts, but a place where the vicar would hide from marauders by cunningly ‘going upstairs’. I’m not sure you get many marauders these days or how much protection the tower would provide in its current state, but I’m glad it hasn’t been turned into a florist or a nail salon.

The game took place at Ponteland Primary School. It’s a big pitch if it is usually used by the under elevens. Ponteland United have recently moved to a nearby leisure centre but that pitch wasn’t quite ready. It means that I got the opportunity to tick off the school pitch and I’ll no doubt return to see them at their new place before long.

The sign on the gate stated that it was two quid to get in, but nobody was taking any money. We were an official short too, with just the one lino accompanying the ref on their long trek from the changies. Each of the teams provided a replacement for one half and both did a good job at enthusiastically flagging the opposition offside.

Ponteland were in Newcastle colours with visitors Wallington in green and black. The home side took the lead ten minutes in and held on to it until half-time.

The second half was marred by rain. Normally I wouldn’t have been too bothered by light drizzle, but I only had the one coat with me and didn’t want to have to turn up at the party soaked through. I’d spotted a gap in the fence behind one of the goals and I drove around from the school car park and positioned the car so that I could see the far goal. Whenever the rain stopped I got out and watched from the rail and when it started up again I followed the progress from the more comfortable and drier front seat.

I got lucky in that all four goals in the second half were scored by Ponteland at the end that I could see. They ran out five-nil winners and I was perfectly placed to drive off to the party the moment the ref blew the final whistle.

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