Posts Tagged ‘Northern League’

Washington v Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, Tuesday 27th September 2022, 7.45pm

October 10, 2022

This game was at the Washington Football Hub, which I think is a new location for Washington. Shame I didn’t realise earlier as I could have ticked off their old ground prior to the move. The hub has a few all weather pitches with a car park separating them from the grass pitch used for this Northern League Division Two clash between Washington and Ryton and Crawcrook Albion.

It was a fiver in and I took up an initial position on the rail. There were two covered stands opposite on the dugout side with a few people in them, but with the rain holding off most of the one hundred and sixty-six-people present were spread around the perimeter.

I asked the fella next to me which team was which and after a small period of consideration he suggested that Washington were in the navy kit with white sleeves and Ryton and Crawcrook were in yellow and blue.

Washington had much of the early possession with Ryton relying on their attempts to beat the offside trap with early runs from deep. Neither side finished well though and as we approached half-time it was goalless. The deadlock was broken in added time when a cross from the Washington keeper’s left drifted over his head and dropped in at the back post. He was distraught, but it was clearly a fluke that not even the fella who floated it in had anticipated.

I joined the lengthy queue for a half-time Bovril and was pleased to be asked whether I wanted pepper in it. It’s always good when people know how to do something properly.

Ryton added two more goals in the second half, the first from the penalty spot and the second from an eventual successful evading of the offside trap. The win allowed Ryton to put some space between themselves and the teams fighting relegation but left Washington firmly in the bottom three.

Ashington v Sunderland RCA, Tuesday 16th August 2022, 7.30pm

August 27, 2022

The Northern League season is well underway now and with Ashington having won their opening four games to top the table I thought I’d head through the Tyne Tunnel to take in their fixture with Sunderland RCA. It was eight quid admission to the Woodhorn Lane ground with another pound-fifty for a programme.

There’s a large covered seated stand down one side, with a smaller one opposite. A burger van was parked behind one of the goals and as I hadn’t eaten before I set off, I paid it a visit. Chips were still fifteen minutes from being ready, so I settled for a cheeseburger. I was a little surprised to be charged fifty pence extra for adding onions to it, but I suppose it means that those who don’t like onions don’t have to subsidise those of us that do. Maybe they should apply the same logic to ketchup. Or sugar in tea.

Ashington were in a white shirt with a black V, whilst mid-table RCA were in blue. The visitors took the lead early on with a finish that I missed as I was making my way up the steps into the main stand. Ashington had most of the play in the remainder of the first half, but lacked patience in the final third and often just pumped the ball aimlessly into the box.

I went into the clubhouse at half-time, to get a coke and a warm. The temperature outside was colder than I’d expected, and I should have worn an additional layer or two. I stayed there for the remainder of the game, watching through the windows and by careful positioning also keeping an eye on the Rangers v PSV match on the television via the reflection in the glass that appeared to float above the real game.

Ashington pressed forward throughout the second half and with around ten minutes remaining the body language of some of the home players suggested that they felt it wasn’t to be their day. However, a cutback cross from the right was swept home to level and then in the third minute of added time a ball in from the left was met with a downward header that gave the keeper no chance and clinched three points that had looked well out of reach.

Five wins from five for Ashington strengthened their position at the top of the table.

Chester-le-Street Town v Redcar Town, Tuesday 9th August 2022, 7.30pm

August 23, 2022

Chester-le-Street Town have played at their Chester Moor ground for the past forty-two years. Initially in the Wearside League and then in the Northern League since 1983. It’s an easy drive from Norton, so I’m a little unsure as to why it’s taken me so long to get to a game.

Anyway, better late than never, Jen and I took the dog up the A1 for their Division Two fixture with Redcar Town.

It was five quid in and another two for the best programme at this level that I’ve seen for a while. I speculated another quid on the raffle which, as usual, came to nothing, before sitting on the concrete steps behind the far goal. If we’d wanted, we could have had proper seats in the main covered stand, but it was fairly crowded and I thought it would be better if the beagle had a bit more space.

There was another clash of colours on the pitch with both sides in blue and white. It’s something that seems more prevalent lately.

I learned from the programme that Chester-le-Street were on a losing streak of nine home games. Their chances of ending that streak were reduced midway through the first half when a long through-ball drew the keeper way out from his goal. The Redcar striker got there first, nicked it past him and tapped home into an empty net.

At half-time I went into the clubhouse and got a pasty and some chips. The friendly lady behind the counter told me that they had been cooked in a Ninja. It was wasted on me as I’ve no idea what a Ninja is, or whether it is likely to improve the taste of what were clearly bought-in oven chips. The tray came in handy though for giving the dog some water from a tap behind the goal.

Redcar had most of the territory in the second half and in hindsight we’d have been better off switching ends sooner than we did. The game was over as a contest when Redcar added a second goal fifteen minutes from time and they notched two more in the last ten minutes for a win that extended the home losing streak to ten games.

Boro Rangers v Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors, Saturday 6th August 2022, 3pm

August 22, 2022

This game took place on the weekend of the Stone Valley North Festival and as it was only twenty minute’s drive from the Ushaw Moor festival site I was happy to nip out for a couple of hours despite it resulting in me missing Sleeper and Stone Foundation.

I did see plenty of decent bands though, including From The Jam, with the highlights probably being the headline sets from The Stranglers and The Boomtown Rats.

As you may have deduced from that glimpse of the line-up, it’s a festival for old people. A few people had brought their grandkids, which lowered the average age, but I’d say that even at fifty-seven, I was below the median.

At 2.30 I left Jen, Paul and Strach to get on with their drinking and drove to the New Ferens ground in Durham. It’s the temporary home of Boro Rangers who were promoted to Northern League Division Two this summer from the North Riding League and had to relocate as their previous ground was below the required standard.

The visitors were Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors who were also in their first Northern League season having been promoted from the Northern Alliance League.

It was only three quid in, which is cheaper than usual for the Northern League, although in hindsight I wonder if I was charged the pensioner rate. I asked the bloke on the gate if there were many in already and he went to the trouble of adding up his tally sheet. I was the thirty-fourth person through the turnstile although a few more came in after me including three WAGs who were clearly unimpressed at the distance that they had to travel from the Boro for a home game.

The visitors were in blue with Rangers turning out in Boro kits. Usually that would be enough to ensure my allegiance, but Boro Rangers weren’t a likeable team. They were very aggressive with tackles flying in from the start. That’s legitimate, but they combined their over-physical approach with excessive appealing for every decision and then furiously berated the officials from the pitch, dugout and stands when it didn’t go their way. And often when it did.

The first half passed without much goalmouth action and as the game went on, I found myself hoping for a Prudhoe goal, ideally a contentious one that would reduce the entire Boro Rangers contingent to apoplexy.

A goal did eventually come when a direct free kick was curled with pace into the top corner of the Prudhoe net. It was enough to deservedly take the three points for Boro Rangers and I was able to get back to Stone Valley in time for the closing songs of Peter Hook’s set and to join in with the evening’s drinking.

Bedlington Terriers v Chester-le-Street Town, Saturday 23rd April 2022, 3pm

May 6, 2022

The Northern League season is drawing to an end and with Bedlington Terriers having a home fixture I thought that I’d head up to Dr. Pit Welfare Park to watch them take on Chester-le-Street Town in a second division fixture.

I parked on the street just around the corner and gave my fiver to the fella on the turnstile. He came straight out to see me, or rather to see Henry, my daughter’s beagle. He told me that he used to have Westies, but they were just too expensive these days and his current dog was a cross between a Jack Russell and a Lakeland Terrier. If I lived in Bedlington and supported Bedlington Terriers, then I’d feel it almost compulsory to have the breed of dog associated with the town.

As we were talking the team in yellow and blue opened the scoring. The dog bloke was not happy and told me that they were the visitors. Bedlington were the team in red and whilst they were fourth from bottom at kick-off, were in serious danger of dropping into the bottom three and out of the Northern League. He felt that a win today was vital to their hopes of survival.

There were different covered stands along one side and a massive scoreboard that wasn’t used. There were plenty of dandelions alongside the grass pitch. I took a few for Mr Rose who I was also looking after for the weekend. He’s my granddaughter’s rabbit who was previously known as Rose until the vet informed them that they had been wrongly advised of his gender. Frequent dead-naming doesn’t seem to bother him and he loves dandelions.

Bedlington’s relegation worries got worse on the half-hour when their keeper dawdled on the ball and had it took off him and knocked into an empty net. The scorer celebrated by booting the ball on to the clubhouse roof and received a yellow for his lack of manners. It infuriated a few of the crowd who presumably supporting the visitors. They got even more pissed off when the lino told them that he’d have done the same. They soon cheered up when a third goal was added from a free-kick a minute later.

I’d made a mistake sitting in the stand nearest to the food hut as every time someone passed with a burger, Henry gave them his full attention until it had been eaten. Bedlington got more into the game as we approached half-time but couldn’t take any of their chances and went in at the break three down.

The ref continued to get some stick in the second half, on one occasion when the choice seemed to be between a penalty and a goal-kick he appeared to compromise with a corner. That decision left nobody happy and resulted in both sides berating him.

Chester-le Street added a couple more in the final quarter of an hour before Terriers notched a consolation at the end. I missed that one as Henry had slipped his lead and ran into the food cabin. He had his eye on a big bowl of chips but fortunately the lady in there managed to head him off. Other results didn’t go the way of Bedlington and they dropped into the bottom three making relegation a real possibility.

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.

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.

Whickham v Newcastle Benfield, Wednesday 29th March 2022, 7.30pm

April 2, 2022

Isn’t British Summer Time good? Unless, I suppose, you’ve got early morning cow milking and electric lights haven’t yet reached your part of the world. The changing of the clocks meant that this was the first evening game in a while where I’ve been able to drive there in the daylight. I went up to Whickham, which is just off the A1, moments before you would pass the Metro Centre.

Whickham were taking on Newcastle Benfield in Division One of the Northern League. Both sides have had a decent season but are some distance off the possibility of promotion.

The game was at The Glebe. Its capacity is listed as four thousand, but with just the one small stand a capacity crowd would mean people having to stand around four deep along the railings. Fortunately, the attendance didn’t quite reach one hundred and fifty, so we all had plenty of room.

I paid six quid to get in, another two for a decent programme and gambled a quid on the blind card. I’ve yet to win a single thing at any of the grounds that I’ve been to. Maybe there should just be a bucket for me to tip the contents of my wallet into instead.

I’d not had time for tea before setting off and so called into the cabin and bought some chips with curry sauce. I got a can of coke but it was too cold outside to drink it and so I stuck it in my pocket and got a coffee instead. It seems that the hot weather of the past weekend was only temporary and with snow forecast I was quite pleased that I hadn’t moved the rescue minnows from their tank to the small pond in the garden as I’d planned to do. I might not be able to put them in there at all now as my granddaughter has filled it with tadpoles from the quarry and I’ve no idea how they would get on.

Incidentally, have you ever given any thought to what tadpoles eat? Me neither, but I didn’t think it would involve me buying, boiling and finely chopping spring greens. I put more effort into the tadpoles dinner than I do my own. Apparently once they grow legs they become carnivorous and if you don’t give them meat they will eat each other. Charming. I doubt the beagle will stand idly by whilst I lob steak cubes into the water.

Whickham were dressed up, as so many teams are in this part of the world, as Newcastle whilst Benfield were in a yellow kit with red trim similar to the one that I’ve a slight recollection of Liverpool wearing in the eighties.

The home side took the lead in the first couple of minutes when a floated cross from the left dropped in at the back post. Two more crosses from the same side led to headed finishes and Whickham were three goals to the good by half-time.

I left the covered stand for the second half and watched from different vantage points on the rail. The slope on the pitch was much more noticeable from the side. You’d think that there would be a farmer up there with earth moving equipment who’d be willing to level it out during the close season.

Whickham added a fourth from a penalty when a defender handled whilst lying on the floor. It was borderline deliberate DOGSO in my opinion so him feigning astonishment at both the decision and the subsequent yellow card seemed a little extreme. A fifth goal followed midway through the half after a rare Whickham break down the right-hand side.

The sixth and final goal for Whickham came after a free kick was charged down and the loose ball cracked home on the half-volley from twenty yards. Whickham clearly deserved the win but I think the six goal margin flattered them and suggested a gulf between the teams that wasn’t often reflected in open play. Still, that’s what the records will show.

Newcastle Benfield v Seaham Red Star, Wednesday 23rd March 2022, 7.30pm

March 26, 2022

I’ve been steadily working my way through the Northern League grounds and this game, at an hour’s drive away, was the nearest option this evening. I could have got to Benfield Park a little quicker if I’d used the Tyne Tunnel but now that they’ve taken away the option to do anything other than pay online I can’t be arsed with remembering and then making the payment once I’ve got back home.

The game was between Newcastle Benfield and Seaham Red Star in the Northern League Division 1 Cup. I’d never heard of the competition before, but there’s lots of things that I haven’t heard of so that’s no reflection on the prestige of the competition.

It was six pounds in and another two for a programme. Benfield Park is a decent ground. There were two covered stands that each seated about a hundred people, a couple of raised terrace areas, a hospitality suite, and a clubhouse. There was also a tea hut where I got a Bovril and almost killed myself with salt poisoning. Someone should invent a version that replaces the salt with pepper.

Bizarrely, there were also a couple of outdoor gym areas just in case anyone wanted to do some pedalling or pummel a punch bag.

Newcastle Benfield were in blue and white stripes with Seaham Red Star in red and white. Newcastle created the better chances in the first half but the away goalie was equal to them. There were a few tackles flying in, but I thought the ref controlled the game well despite the constant moaning at him from both sides. After one altercation he ordered the two miscreants to come to him and he gave them an enormous bollocking that all of the 131 people in the crowd were able to hear. A nice alternative to a couple of yellow cards.

I switched seats at half time and moved to the other side of the pitch. That stand is behind the dugouts, so I got the moaning by the management teams closer up. Seaham took the lead from a penalty early on in the second half, but Newcastle equalised with around twenty minutes to go and then nicked a winner close to the end. By this time the ref had started supplementing his bollockings with cards and the visitors finished a man down.

It was another enjoyable evening out, just sitting quietly waiting for a bit of skill beyond expectations and with the lack of tension that comes from not caring which team wins.

Brandon United v Chester-le-Street Town, Wednesday 9th March 2022, 7.45pm

March 11, 2022

I had a couple of options for games this evening and if I’d gone to Washington instead, I’d have witnessed a world record penalty shootout that finally ended up with a 25-24 winner after 54 kicks. I imagine that the shoot-out will probably have taken around three-quarters of an hour to complete though and so at times people would have been wishing that it had just gone to a replay.

Instead, I went to Welfare Park for the Northern League game between Brandon United and Chester-le-Street Town.

It was a fiver in and I picked up a programme for a quid. I’m always impressed when clubs of this size produce programmes. With average crowds around the sixty mark I suspect the sales might be in single figures, which is a shame as it was exceptionally well done. I learned from it that Brandon started out as a Sunday League side in the sixties and have the FA Sunday Cup on their list of trophies. They have won the Northern League too, although they are currently struggling in the bottom half of the second division.

Welfare Park looks as if it’s as old as the club. There are some benches behind one goal that are rotting away and the covered seated stand has areas in front of it that have been fenced off, presumably for safety reasons. With perimeter fencing that looks to date from the sixties as well it’s a bit like being in a time-warp. If they do get around to upgrading anything, I suspect that Beamish might be interested in the old stuff. It’s a pity that this was a night game as there looked to be a great view across the pitch to what might have been Durham. In the dark though, it was just a cluster of distant lights.

Brandon were in all red with visitors Chester-le-Street in yellow and blue. Imagine it as Wales v Sweden. Both sides appeared to struggle with the cold and the wind and a lot of first touches seemed to go straight to an opposition player. Brandon broke the deadlock not long before half-time with a header after some penalty box pinball and that was enough to take the points and move them a little further towards mid-table.