Gateshead Leam Rangers v Durham City, Saturday 3rd September 2022, 2.30pm

Durham City have been having a bad time of it lately. They were relegated from the Northern League to the Wearside League in the summer and any hopes of consolidating at the slightly lower level had been dashed by losing all of their eight fixtures to date whilst conceding an average of more than nine goals a game.

Jen and I watched them ship eleven goals without reply in their fixture with Hartlepool a few weeks ago. They have changed a lot of their players since that one and it’s difficult to establish any sort of pattern of play when you’ve got new players coming in each week.

I’d seen on social media that a dozen or so players had been let go in midweek and the talk amongst the handful of Durham fans that were there to cheer them on was that they had done the right thing in shedding those without the right attitude.

In Durham’s previous game they had arrived with just eleven players and played most of the game a man down after one of them just walked off the pitch and headed home. For this game Durham had again turned up without subs and with four new signings making their debuts.

It was three quid in and I reckon the crowd probably peaked at around twenty-five. I watched the first half from the only seating available, a bench that may have served six at a push, under a covered area.

Gateshead Leam Rangers were probably not the opponents that Durham would have wanted in that they went into the game in second place in the table having won six and drawn two of their ten games.

The home side, in a Norwich-style kit, were patient in their build ups and quick to counter. It paid off with three goals in the opening quarter of an hour. Steady pressure extended the lead to six-nil by half-time.

One of the Durham fans near to me was invited to training on Wednesday by a member of the coaching staff as the teams headed to the changies. Even if he proves to be useless it’s worth doing when you can only raise a match-day squad of eleven.

The goals kept coming in the second half, with Gateshead reaching nine with still twenty minutes to play. At that stage the Durham goalie indulged in some timewasting, probably a first for a team that far behind, and pissed off the home side causing a few of them to bring it up with the ref.

Injuries reduced the visitors to nine men in the final stages as the goals rained in with Gateshead adding another five to nick a fourteen-nil victory.

The score line made me think of the only other time I’ve been at a game with a fourteen-nil result. It was back in 1978 when I was keeping goal for Barmoor Boys U14s and Stockton West End rattled all fourteen past me at the Norton Cricket Club pitch. I think that game might only have been thirty-five minutes each way. Just as well really.

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