Blackhall Cricket Club v Murton Colliery, Sunday 25th September 2022, 10.30am

I didn’t get to a Saturday game this week and so thought I’d have a look at what my options were for a Sunday morning. It’s so much easier these days with the amount of information online. My app of choice for identifying nearby fixtures is Futbology, but that only covers the top ten levels of English football. Nevertheless, there is plenty of info out there and the Peterlee and District Sunday League provides great info on their games and grounds. I selected a fixture at Blackhall and stuck a couple of camping chairs in the back of the car.

One of the reasons that I picked Blackhall is that it is on the coast and has a dog-friendly beach. We took the beagle and walked along the cliff-top above what I presume are the Blackhall Rocks mentioned on the sign-posts. It’s a pretty safe bet that a cliff-top will have a path and we headed south initially towards Crimdon Dene.

The high path appeared to come to an end as we reached the caravan park and we descended the steps to the beach for the wander back. There weren’t many people around, a couple of fishermen casting out for fifty yards or so and the odd dog-walker. Henry was keen to get into the water, which is unusual for him after almost drowning in Billy Beck as a puppy. I’d been expecting dead sea-life to be littering the sand but saw nothing. It must only be an issue further south.

The game was a mile or so away from the beach at the Blackhall Colliery Welfare ground. It’s a pitch without any terraced areas, although it does have a perimeter fence on three sides and an embankment where we set up the chairs.

Just over the fence at the back is the cricket ground which was home in the eighties to West Indies legend Desmond Haynes. It’s hard to imagine one of the world’s leading batsmen turning out in club cricket these days, but back then the NYSD league was the place to be for players who, I suppose, would be following the T20 circuit these days.

Blackhall were in green and black, with Murton in white and blue. The visitors took the lead early on and doubled their advantage on the half hour. By the time that the players sat down for their four minute half-time break, Murton were four goals to the good, all of them scored by the same fella.

The second round of the Tommy Burrell Cup fixture was well supported with around sixty people having made their way in. Maybe, once you’ve walked the dog on the beach, there’s not much else going on in Blackhall on a Sunday morning.

Blackhall did better after the restart, knocking in an early goal and then a second with ten minutes to go. Their prospects were helped by one of the visiting strikers giving the lady ref a bit of slaver and earning ten minutes in the sin-bin. Any hopes of a comeback were ended in added time though as Murton added a fifth to take their place in the third round draw.

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