Billingham Synthonia Reserves v Wear United, Saturday 8th April 2023, 2pm

My second game of the afternoon was also at Northfield School, but on the artificial surface that they have named the Northfield Sportsdrome. I don’t know why, but I always imagine any venue with ‘drome’ in its title to be an indoor stadium. I think it probably stems from Muhamad Ali’s fights at the Houston Astrodome. I googled Sportsdrome and got images of speedway and motor racing so clearly it’s a term that is also used for places that stage outdoor activities.

This drome had no roof, or a cinder track, but it did have a fence around it and I picked a spot inside to watch the thirteenth tier Wearside League Division Three clash between Billingham Synthonia Reserves and Wear United. The sides were bottom and second bottom respectively. I don’t think that there is any relegation from the Wearside League, so there may not have been a lot for either team to play for.

Synners were in their classic green and white quarters, with Wear United wearing yellow shirts and then a mix of either black, blue or navy shorts combined with blue, yellow or black socks. Either the kitman was having a mare or else he had managed heroically with whatever he had. Or maybe there was no kitman and the players just brought whatever shorts and socks weren’t in the wash.

Despite the lack of uniformity, the sartorial standard still exceeded the quality of play which was absolutely abysmal. Few players looked to be at the level of those playing in the friendly on the adjacent pitch and I imagine that if any of the other four spectators were Synner’s fans they have must be horrified at the decline of their club over the past decade or so.

On the plus side, the ref was far better than you’d expect at this level. At one point a player told him, albeit with a smile, that it was as well the reffing assessor wasn’t in attendance. If I were the bloke with the whistle I’d have struggled to avoid a suitable retort whenever a player ended up on his arse after an air shot or repeatedly failed to control a two yard pass.

For what it’s worth, it finished up one-each.

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