Posts Tagged ‘Durham City’

Durham City v South Moor, Saturday 1st October 2022, 2.30pm

October 12, 2022

I’ve seen Durham City a couple of times this season and at times you feel like peeking through your fingers. They came down from the Northern League in the summer and in the games that I’ve seen so far they lost by eleven and fourteen goals respectively.

For some reason they seem to struggle to find a settled squad and it’s like watching a new scratch side every time I see them. For this game, they announced six new signings, although I’m not sure how many of them started.

Jen and I drove up to the pitch at Leyburn Road in Houghton-le-Spring. I’ve never been to Houghton before and noticed they have a castle of sorts. If I ‘d realized I’d have left an hour or so earlier and had a wander round. Although we had the dog with us, so that might have made things difficult. The pitch was a fair walk from the changies, so when we got to half-time the players just sat down on the grass.

This game had been publicized as raising awareness for a young lad who needed a bone marrow transplant. He was there kicking around with, I think, his brother. I thought that someone was going to be taking swabs from people to see if they were a bone marrow match, but there was nothing going on. I’m probably too old anyway from what I’ve learned, as you might have to be under fifty-five.

Durham started well and kept South Moor at bay for the opening half-hour. By the break they were just the two goals down and their manager was telling them that it was the best that they have played all season. It all went tits up in the second half though as they conceded another seven without reply. Still, they kept it to single figures which is an improvement of sorts. I’ll keep an eye on them and hope that they can become competitive before the season’s up.

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

September 5, 2022

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.

FC Hartlepool v Durham City, Wednesday 3rd August 2022, 6.45pm

August 21, 2022

August is a time when there are plenty of games going on in the lower leagues as fixtures can be played mid-week without floodlights and with little chance of the weather intervening.

With that in mind, Jen, Isla, Henry and I went along to FC Hartlepool for their eleventh tier Wearside League Division One match against Durham City. We found the ground easily enough but, as I’ve often done in the past, I’d got the date wrong and we were twenty-four hours too early.

This is usually the point where I bring up standing outside of Freddy Natt aged seven trying to get into a padlocked school one day before it actually re-opened after Christmas, but I dare say you’ve heard that one. As we were already out and about, we drove to Seaton Carew for a walk along the seafront and some fish and chips.

Jen and I returned to the Grayfields Enclosure the next evening with the dog and paid our three quid admission. If we’d been a bit sharper, we could have nabbed the bench seat near to one of the corner flags, but instead ended up having to lean on the railings around the pitch. There was a decent turnout, with people watching from all four sides of the pitch and a few kids having kickabouts of their own.

I’d seen Durham a couple of times last season in their relegation from the Northern League. They’d been really hammered on a few occasions and didn’t win a game until the final day of the campaign. I was hoping that the drop down a level would make them more competitive, but a seven-nil defeat on the opening day of the season suggested that they may struggle this season too.

Hartlepool were in red and blue, with Durham in red and black. Theoretically there wasn’t a clash of colours, but in real life it was often difficult to tell the teams apart. How hard is it to make sure that the teams play in non-clashing kits?

Hartlepool took the lead in the first few minutes with a shot from outside the box that appeared to have left the keeper unsighted. The added another ten minutes later and a third from a penalty on the half-hour. The home goalie didn’t have a save to make in the first half and whilst it was still only three-nil at the break, Hartlepool genuinely could have been ten goals to the good with better finishing.

Durham kept their hosts at bay for the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, but two goals in quick succession around the hour mark opened the floodgates and Hartlepool added another six in the remaining half-hour to run out eleven-nil winners.

It’s hard to gauge how good unbeaten Hartlepool are two games into the season, but it looks like another tough year for Durham.

Birtley Town v Durham City, Saturday 2nd April 2022, 3pm

April 5, 2022

I had some college stuff to do this weekend, but it had been changed late on from an in-person workshop to all being done remotely. That meant that when my involvement was finished by early afternoon, I could look for a local game rather than the ones that I had been considering somewhere near Chelmsford.

The fixture I selected, on the basis of it being less than forty minutes’ drive away, was in the second Division of the Northern League. Birtley Town were taking on Durham City at Birtley Sports Complex.

Birtley were one of the founder members of the Northern League in 1889, but soon dropped out and then disappeared for a while. They were promoted from the Northern Alliance four years ago and have had a steady mid-table season this year.

Durham City have had a disastrous time of it lately, with just two draws all season and a goal difference approaching minus one hundred and fifty. Maybe today would be their first win.

I’d cut it a bit too fine and with the car park full I missed the opening few minutes. As I walked across the adjacent pitch, I saw Birtley take the lead. They were in green and white with Durham in black and red. Maybe another double figure defeat was on the cards for Durham. It was a fiver in with no programmes or team sheets. My strip of raffle tickets was about five away from winning whatever the prize was.

Once inside I took up a position on the rail and watched a collie playing with a burst football. Every now and again he would nip under the barrier with it between his teeth, as if to show the players what he might do if their ball came his way. There were other dogs in attendance including a chihuahua in a green scarf that had its own bed in the tea hut.

After a while I moved around to the small, covered stand on the far side. The potential goal rush didn’t materialise and Durham had their chances to equalise before Birtley doubled their lead just before half-time. There was a hint of offside about the goal and the Durham defence stopped and waited for the whistle. It didn’t come though, causing one of their management team to give the ref some serious abuse. He took it better than I would have and when a spectator suggested that he simply tell the gobshite to fuck off, he replied with a smile “Good idea, mate, but I can’t”.

At half-time I got some chips and gravy, attracting the attention of the collie who saw them as much more interesting than his burst football. Birtley added a third midway through the half before Durham managed a consolation from a penalty towards the end.

It was a competitive game, which suggests Durham are on the right tracks. It would be good to see them get a win before the season ends.

Heaton Stannington v Durham City, Friday 25th February 2022, 7.30pm

March 2, 2022

Jen has been in America for the last few weeks and whilst Harry has been coming along to a few games he was at his Nanna’s for this one. He’s got millions of Nannas and Great-Nannas. Fewer Grandads though as we are all dying off. That’s how it works.

I was dogsitting over the weekend and so Henry the beagle stepped in as a match-day companion. He wasn’t too keen initially as he’d already settled down on the settee for the evening but once we got up to Heaton he perked up. He’s a weird dog. On Bonfire Night he sat on the back steps and watched the firework display. If he’s up for something like that then some lower league football should be a treat for him.

It was a fiver admission at Grounsell Park for humans with no charge for canines. I suppose they usually earn less than we do. My losing raffle tickets this week were for a Heaton Stannington branded coat. That’s marginally better than the usual two bottles of booze if you are a ‘Stan’ fan of just the right size, but I’d have made more use of some screw-top sauvignon.

It’s quite the done thing to bring a dog to Northern League games, more so at this ground than most. There was an airedale, a pug, something that looked a bit like a spaniel with a perm and a long-haired sausage dog. I don’t think I’d ever seen one of those before.

The area near the entrance and outside the bar was packed, so I headed further along to the covered seated stand and we watched the first half from there.

Heaton Stannington were in a skinny black and white striped kit with Durham City in yellow and blue. It didn’t take long for the home side to open the scoring and they were three up within half an hour. The scoreline wasn’t much of a surprise as Heaton Stannington are running away with Division Two of the Northern League whilst Durham City are adrift at the bottom of the table with only two points all season and a goal difference of minus one hundred and twenty-six.

There was part of me that hoped to see a rout. Is that mean spirited? I usually try not to be. Durham City had already lost by ten goals on three occasions this season and back in November were beaten sixteen-one by Carlisle City. You don’t get to witness outcomes like that too often.

At one stage in the season it looked as if Durham City might fold due to debts of a hundred and fifty thousand pounds. But, approaching March, they’ve managed to stick around.

There were another two goals early in the second half but to everyone’s surprise they both came from the visitors. Order was restored with a quick response from ‘The Stan’ as we approached the hour-mark.

The final half hour was end to end as both sides pushed for an oddly crucial seventh goal of the game. It was the home side that managed it in injury time to seal a five-two win that flattered them to an extent. The dog seemed to have enjoyed the evening out but was happy to return to the settee.