Posts Tagged ‘Billingham Town’

Billingham Town Reserves v Ferryhill Athletic, Saturday 26th February 2022, 1.30pm

March 3, 2022

I hadn’t been intending to go to a game on this afternoon as I had too many things to do. I knew that there was a game on at North Shore Academy just a few minutes from my house but I reckoned that as it was a school with an artificial pitch dogs wouldn’t welcome. I was looking after the beagle and so thought that I’d save that venue for another day.

Things change though and I found myself driving past North Shore on the way back from the shops. It was at the time when the game was on and I couldn’t bring myself to pass the turn without calling in for a quick look.

North Shore is a school built on the former site of Tilery Sports Centre which was somewhere that I spent a fair bit of time at. As a kid I played table-tennis and five-a-side there as well as failing dismally to progress beyond a white belt at judo. Later it was somewhere for games of squash and seven-a-side football on an outdoor gravel pitch.

Up until recently there had been some tennis courts there too. I can only recall playing on them once, back around ‘84ish. My friend Paul and I had walked past them in the early hours of a summer’s morning after a night out that had concluded around 4am in the casino. We nipped home for racquets and returned to play a few sets whilst everyone else was asleep.

With the casino being long gone and now the tennis courts too, I’ve no idea what people find to do when the pubs shut these days. It’s as well I’m generally in bed by nine.

Anyway, the game. It was a second round tie in the Washington Aged Persons Cup between Billingham Town Reserves of the thirteenth tier Division Three of the Wearside League and Ferryhill Athletic, who play one step higher in Division Two. Billingham were in blue and a goal up when I got there. Ferryhill soon squandered a chance to equalize with a penalty that was hit too close to the keeper.

The ref looked to be in his sixties, but kept a tight grip on the game, tolerating no backchat. I like that. Twenty minutes was all I could spare though, partly because I had a couple of live goldfish in the car, and I left them to it. A quick check later on revealed that Billingham ran out four-one winners to progress to the third round.

Newton Aycliffe v Billingham Town, Tuesday 8th February 2022, 7.45pm

February 16, 2022

Newton Aycliffe is another of those places that’s not too far from me, but I’ve never been to. I suppose you’d need a reason to go there and I’d never had one. That is, not until I’d wanted to tick off their Northern League ground.

I parked up near to the Moore Lane Sports Club and was directed towards the pitch through a gate in a wooden fence. It was seven quid to get in and the only team sheet available was fixed to a wall. There were no programmes either, due to “the media officer having gone to Hartlepool”.

I enjoy flicking through a programme, but I can appreciate that with sales likely to be in low double figures it’s a thankless task to produce them. Hopefully the career progression of the former media officer will encourage someone looking for a start in football media work to get involved at Newton Aycliffe and resurrect their matchday magazine.

I bought raffle tickets giving the chance to win a bottle of something or other and took a seat in the covered stand along one side of the pitch. Newton Aycliffe turned out in blue with Billingham Town in a white kit. The hosts are challenging for promotion from Division One of the Northern League with Town down at the bottom of the table.

The pitch was fairly cut up by modern standards with both goalmouths made up of mud rather than grass. Newton Aycliffe looked good early on and took the lead in the opening minutes with a shot that may have been deflected more than once.

The talking point of the first half was a Billingham town striker being sin-binned for telling the ref to “Fuck Off’. Whilst swearing is ever-present in football, there’s a line and he crossed it. I like the sin-bin approach being trialled in the Norther League but I’d like it more if players were simply sent off instead for abusing officials.

Newton Aycliffe added a second goal twenty minutes from time when a precise ball across the face of the goal was tapped in to clinch a win that keeps them in contention for promotion.

Billingham Town v Heaton Stannington, Saturday 31st August 2019, 3pm

November 22, 2019

I’ve no idea why I’ve never been to Bedford Terrace before. You’d think that for someone with an interest  in ground hopping visiting a ground that is less than ten minute’s drive or just a forty-five minute walk from my house would have been something that I’d have got around to at some point.

Not long after leaving school, one of my mates used to play for them, but it would never have entered my head to have gone along and watched him, just like he wouldn’t have bothered coming to see me turning out for my Sunday League side Hartburn Villa.

Thirty-five years on from the pinnacle of my footballing days and what was the start of a pretty decent career for my mate, I finally made my way over the A19 to see a Billingham Town game.

There’s a decent sized car park which, had I not abandoned my car in one of the side streets, would have been ideal. It was six quid in to the ground, with another pound for the programme for an FA Vase game against Heaton Stannington. I’d no idea where Heaton Stannington is, or even if it is a place. The visitors were wearing Newcastle style strips so my immediate assumption was that they were from that area. However, I later noticed that they were sponsored by the Whitby Co-op so perhaps they are from around that way.

I’m also not sure where the FA Vase ranks in comparison the Northern League games. Stockton made it to Wembley last year so perhaps they had prioritised it. I certainly would have. The officials though were a lot older and fatter than the bright young things that I’d seen officiating in the league, so perhaps the authorities rank it a bit lower.

I went in a covered standing area on the far side which seemed to be the place where the dozen or so away fans were congregating. There was a seated stand opposite where Billingham has a few vocal fans in the top corner accompanied by a drum and possibly some brass instrument.

The windy conditions didn’t make things easy for either team, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring. The goal seemed to increase the extent of the niggling between the teams which peaked when the Billingham nine did something off the ball that led a flat out opponent and a red card. There was no further scoring in the first half and at the interval I got some chips, a coffee and a seat in the main stand.

The second half brought more pressure from the visitors with Heaton having a goal disallowed and drawing a decent save from the Town keeper. At that point Heaton were well on top against the ten men and when one of the visitors was subbed he was in such a good mood that he cheered his own name as it was announced on the tannoy.

The confidence was misplaced though as a Billingham free-kick that was floated into the box appeared to either take a deflection or be caught by a gust of wind. Either way it drifted beyond the keeper for an against the run of play equaliser.

The goal revitalised Billingham and when pressing for a winner were only stopped in their tracks by a blatant body check from a Stan defender. The subsequent yellow was greeted by a cry of “Who’s your father, referee?” which is something that I don’t think I’ve heard for thirty years and something that may very well cause bemusement to anyone born in that time.

With extra time looming a Town central defender went on a mazy run, not unlike the ones that my mate used to do all those years ago. He held off the covering challenges and finished into the corner, giving his team a two-one victory that had looked out of reach for most of the game.