Posts Tagged ‘Crook Town’

Crook Town v Ryhope Colliery Welfare, Wednesday 20th April 2022, 7.30pm

May 5, 2022

It’s the time of the year for cup finals with this one being for the Durham County FA Frank Pattison Challenge Cup. It was at the Hetton Centre which is also known as Eppleton Colliery Welfare. It’s a ground used by Sunderland’s U23 and Women’s teams. Cars were already turning around due to lack of space when I arrived, but I got lucky as someone who must have been there for something other than the football vacated his prime parking spot and saved me having to drive back out again.

With a few minutes to kick-off there was a queue to get into the ground. I paid my fiver and was given a free programme.

I passed the trophy on the way in and took a seat in the main stand. There were a few rows of seats with a standing section behind. The Crook  fans seemed to have taken over that area and sang throughout the game including a few renditions of the ‘Nicky Bailey’ song.

Most of the crowd, which eventually reached 620, were stood around the perimeter pitch fence with others getting a better view from on top of embankments and mud piles. Crook were in amber and black with Ryhope in red and white.

Crook took the lead on eighteen minutes with a volley from the edge of the box, but didn’t hold the advantage for long with Ryhope equalising on the half hour when the ball was hooked home after a corner.

At half time I went for some food but the slow-moving queue of people waiting for chips meant that I bailed out and watched the second half from behind that goal until the length of the queue had sufficiently dropped for me to nip in for a pie.

Ryhope probably had the best chances in the second half but neither side did enough to win it and with the score level at full-time we went straight to pens. I’d anticipated the end that would be used and so was already in a prime spot when the whistle went. I was joined by a few others, most of whom were supporting Crook.

I had a brief chat with a young kid next to me. He told me that he supported Newcastle, as well as Crook and marvelled at the turnaround under Eddie Howe. He then turned his attention to the Ryhope goalie and before each kick informed him that he was a ‘paedo’. Charming. I doubt the lad was any older than twelve.

The Ryhope keeper had the last laugh though, saving a couple of the penalties to clinch the cup. A fella on the other side of me, sensing defeat, had declared that he was going onto the pitch anyway. He did so, raising a flare to the heavens and dropping his trousers to his thighs in what I took to be a gesture of dissatisfaction with the result.

I made my way back to the main stand for the presentation. By this time most of the Crook fans had left the standing area and so I was able to get an elevated view of Ryhope lifting the cup.

West Allotment Celtic v Crook Town, Tuesday 5th April 2022, 7.30pm

April 7, 2022

The Northern League finishes this month and there are plenty of midweek fixtures as clubs deal with games lost to the weather and covid. This one was at East Palmersville Sports Pavilion, just a bit north of the Tyne Tunnel. West Allotment Celtic moved there this season after a nomadic few years and I suppose their recent arrival explains why I couldn’t see any allotments anywhere around the ground.

It was six quid in, with another two for the programme and a further quid for the raffle. No luck again, although as I rarely drink rose wine, it wasn’t a big disappointment.

There were slim pickings at the tea hut, with a choice between a hot dog and a cheeseburger. As the cheeseburgers were still being cooked, I went for the hot dog. I’m not really convinced that they should count as food, but I hadn’t had my tea and thought I should have something.

I took a seat in one of the covered stands where I was soon joined by an old bloke who supported the visitors, Crook Town. He was adamant that Crook would win and kept telling me that they were the better side.

On discovering that I was from Stockton he advised me that the market day was a Wednesday, but there was little point in going as it had declined a lot in recent years. Whilst I knew Stockton’s market day, I’ve no idea of market days in any other town. That sort of knowledge struck me as a bit of a superpower and was certainly more impressive than his assessment of the state of play on the pitch.

There were few chances and no score in the first half. West took the lead midway through the second with a cracking strike from the edge of the box. I missed the Crook equaliser from a penalty in the dying moments as with ten minutes to go I’d nipped out to the clubhouse for a slash and with the rain coming down decided to head for the car rather than return to my seat.

The draw kept both sides in a lower mid-table position as they see out the season.

Crook Town v Tow Law Town, Friday 17th February 2017, 7.30pm

April 7, 2017

Jen and I were staying in Sedgefield for this UK visit  and that made it handy for getting to a Northern League Division Two fixture at Crook. I was reasonably confident of finding their Millfield ground on the basis that if I followed the sign at the A1 roundabout for Bishop Auckland, sooner or later there would be a sign for Crook. Sure enough, that’s exactly how it worked.

I’d also assumed that Crook would be a small enough town to make finding the stadium a doddle, but if it hadn’t been an evening kick-off under floodlights I’d probably have struggled a little more than I did.

It was five quid to get in, with another pound for a programme. From what I can gather, the ground pre-dates Crook Town’s formation in 1889. It has seen a few Amateur Cup winning sides including one that featured Frank Clark, a future European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest.

There was a main stand that was built in the twenties and a slightly smaller one to its right. The goal at that end had some concrete terracing and the other two sides just a grassy bank apiece.

Tow Law were the visitors in a reverse of the fixture that I’d seen at their Ironworks Road ground last season. Most of the noise came from the players who, in what didn’t seem to be an ironic manner, spent the match shouting to each other that they were “too quiet”. I’m not sure that any situation can ever be too quiet.

If the players weren’t berating each other they were having a pop at the ref and each side seemed to have a rota for carrying out the criticism. If all of the players are critical in turn, I presume it’s less likely that one will be singled out for a yellow card. I’d just book them all.

There were a couple of hundred home fans and a small section of visitors up in the main stand. Although with the two towns only being five miles apart there were probably a few more Tow Law supporters dotted around the ground. Neither set of fans made much noise, with the biggest contribution coming from a bloke leaning on the railing who was coughing so hard that I thought he might hack his rib cage up.

Tow Law were the better side and after being a couple of goals up at half-time kept adding to their score as the game went on. Crook had neither the necessary composure or luck in front of goal and as the second-half drew to a close found themselves five-nil behind.

I hung on to see if the visitors could match the six-nil score of the game I saw between the teams last season.  Tow Law came close, hitting the post with the final kick of the evening. I suppose Crook can take some comfort from the slightly smaller defeat. I might turn up next year and see if they can maintain their improvement and limit the deficit to four.

Tow Law Town v Crook Town, Saturday 30th April 2016, 3pm

July 31, 2016

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A couple of days after arriving in the UK, Jen and I had a drive out to Tow Law for their derby with Crook Town in the second division of the Northern League. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Tow Law before and it was a lot more pleasing on the eye than I’d imagined it to be.

Whereas I’d been expecting somewhere run-down, with polystyrene take-away trays blowing down a deserted high street, it was actually a pleasant little town with plenty of countryside around it. More green than the grey that I’d anticipated.

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The Ironworks Road ground dates back to 1893 although the ironworks that it is named after had actually closed a good ten years or so earlier than that. I’m not sure how much of the ground is original, although the fella that took our fivers to get in reckoned that the ‘step-on’ turnstile might very well have been.

There were plenty of options for viewing the game and we initially stood behind the goal at the end where we had come in. When the rain that had threatened for a while finally arrived we moved to the stand behind the dugouts.

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A good proportion of the sixty or so crowd had the same idea, with a few kids seeking shelter at the far end in the standing enclosure with a small roof on it. A handful of older blokes braved the drizzle on the terracing opposite us, whilst one or two fans tucked in close to the walls of the changing rooms.

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I was a bit disappointed with the standard of play, although I seem to think the same thing every time I go to a Northern League game. Surely the technical ability of the players should be so much higher these days with the academy system. Whilst I’ve no idea if any of the players were ex-pros, you’d think that most of them would have been in academies for some of their formative years. If so, it didn’t show.

Tow Law created plenty of the chances and the Crook goalie managed to somehow get out of the way of most of them. He had a signature move of quickly dropping to his arse whenever a shot was fired in, as if he was playing Musical Bumps.

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If only the keeper been as successful at getting out of the way of the barber he might not have ended up with a curly perm on the top inch of his head with the remainder shaved to the bone.

At half time I got myself a coffee and some chips from the window near to the turnstiles and we had a chat with a bloke who had brought a wooden rattle. He was younger than us, so it wasn’t as if he’d had it since the nineteen fifties or whenever they were popular. I doubt you’d get into the Boro with a device like that these days.

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We watched the second half from the terracing on the opposite side to the stand. It meant that we got to hear the linesman keeping the players straight as to what they were doing wrong. He’d quite happily point out to a whining centre-half that “you played him on” or that “the full-back didn’t step up”.

At one point he got into a shouty exchange with a coach over the hand signals that he had used to indicate that a player had returned from a previously offside position. I suspected that the most recent offside change that the other fella was aware of was when it changed from three defenders to two, back in the days when the Ironworks still had that lingering smell of fresh paint.

The officiating was all very impressive, but wasted on those players and coaches. I doubt I’d have had the inclination or the patience to explain my decisions. Nor, come to think of it, the stamina to run up and down the line.

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It wasn’t much of a contest, with Tow Law being five goals up by early in the second half. They could probably have had more but a few of the home players looked happy to see the season out at a canter.

The excitement levels perked up towards the end when with all of the Crook Town subs used, or more likely, an incomplete bench to begin with, an injured outfield player had to swap positions with Mr. Musical Bumps. The change made little difference, apart perhaps from reducing the opportunities for the original goalie to have a bit of a sit down.

Tow Law rounded off the afternoon with a sixth goal before the end and brought their season to a close. It wouldn’t be overly harsh to suggest that for some of the Crook players, the season had finished long before kick-off.