Posts Tagged ‘Stockton Town’

South Shields U18 v Stockton Town U18, Friday 1st October 2021, 7.30pm

October 13, 2021

After my visit to North Shields four days earlier for an FA Youth Cup tie, it fell to South Shields to provide my Friday evening entertainment in the same competition. As an added bonus, Stockton Town provided the opposition and as my parents have been shelling out a tenner a month for years to support ‘the young lads football’ in the Stockton Town monthly draw I was keen to see if their money had been well-spent.

Mariners Park, or the 1st Cloud Arena as it is now known, is situated in an industrial estate. If there was any club parking it was full by the time I arrived and so I dumped the car a couple of hundred yards away. It was three quid admission which is a pound cheaper than neighbours North Shields. Immediately as I went in I saw the new stand that is being constructed along the length of one of the sides of the pitch. It’s an impressive show of ambition from a club in the seventh tier of English football and that only six years ago were in the tenth tier Second Division of the Northern League. The ambition was supported by around three-hundred and fifty fans turning out. That’s an impressive attendance at this level in adult football, never mind under eighteens.

The new stand will give South Shields decent facilities on all four sides of the ground. There’s covered standing behind both goals and a combined standing and seating covered stand along the other side of the pitch. I chose to sit and although there were stanchions holding up the roof I got a good view of both goalmouths.

South Shields were wearing a Burnley style kit with Stockton in their regular yellow and blue. The hosts looked the better side early on, keeping possession well and playing mainly in Stockton’s half. They made their dominance count and by half time were two up. I thought the Stockton keeper was a bit jittery but to be fair, he wasn’t at fault for either of the goals and he made a couple of good saves to keep his side in it.

At half-time I got myself pie and chips and a coke in a pint beaker that you paid a pound for and could either return to get your pound back or keep. I’m a sucker for things like this. I’ve a cupboard full of plastic beakers from the last couple of World Cups and a commemorative South Shields version has now joined them.

Stockton got back into the game with a great strike that was just too high for a keeper a fraction off his line. They then levelled before South Shields regained the lead. The big talking point, or whinging point, came when Stockton made it three each. The goal came from a penalty awarded after the striker was fouled but chose not to go to ground and instead tried and failed to round the keeper. The ref called play back and awarded the pen. Brilliant. Or ‘disgusting’ and ‘disgraceful’ according to the home fans nearby. Why should a player have to go down to ‘win’ a pen?

Shields weren’t to be denied though and hit back with a fourth and winning goal.

Sunderland RCA v Stockton Town, Saturday 4th September 2021, 3pm

September 16, 2021

After attending matches in the Extra Preliminary and Preliminary rounds of the FA Cup I thought I’d keep my streak going with a game in the First Qualifying Round. There were a few options but I took the opportunity to see Stockton Town for the first time this season in their tie with Sunderland RCA at the Meadow Lane ground in Ryhope.

The ground wasn’t the easiest to find. We could see it from all sides but it took a while to locate the entrance. Once parked up we headed into town for something to eat. The Guide Post pub looked promising but weren’t doing food and so in the end we had to settle for fish and chips from Ryhope Fisheries next door.

With rain in the air, we returned to the ground a good half an hour before kick off to try and get a seat under cover. It was six quid each admission with another pound for the programme. A decent attendance looked to be on the cards and the bar area was already busy as we made our way towards the main stand. There were flags from Stockton and plenty of Teesside accents.

We spent the first half in the main stand with the beagle tucked between my legs. He’s generally fine sitting quietly at a game but every now and then he perks up when he smells food. Bit like me really. Stockton took an early lead through a Kev Hayes free-kick and with Mikey Roberts adding a second mid-way through the half.

At that stage it looked as if Stockton, who are one division higher than RCA, were on for an easy win, but the hosts pulled one back on the half-hour and then equalized a few minutes later. They could even have taken the lead just before half-time but were denied by a decent save from the keeper. It was quite a turnaround.

With the prospect of rain diminishing we watched the second half from behind the goal. Stockton were getting on top again but struggled to make the extra possession count. Former Boro player Jonathan Franks was having a decent game. He’s someone that I’ve kept an eye on throughout his career, mainly because he went to school with my kids. I saw his Premier League appearance in the relegation game at West Ham and Jen and I saw him at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final victory over Celtic a few years ago. More recently I’ve watched out for his team’s results in Iceland and it’s good to see him back where he started.

With around twenty minutes to go Stockton regained the lead with another goal from Hayes. There were still chances going begging at the other end though and I wasn’t convinced that Stockton would see the game out. For one thing they had a few players carrying a bit of weight. It’s not unusual to see the odd player at this level with a bit of a belly on them but Stockton had at least three. Mind you, a few of the Sunderland lads looked as if they could do with a decent dinner so perhaps these things even out.

With play stopped for some reason we had a chat with the lady lino about dogs and football. She mentioned that in one game she had been reffing it had been a nightmare getting a stray dog off the pitch. There were at least six dogs at this game so it’s not surprising really that you get the odd one that gets up to mischief.

With time running out Stockton clinched the game with a fourth goal to see themselves through to the Second Qualifying Round and only three more wins from a potential tie against a League One or Two club.

Stockton Town v Thornaby, Thursday 26th December 2019, 11am

March 12, 2020

I always think of Boxing Day as a day for going to the match. It used to be with the Boro but I’ve drifted away over recent years and for this year’s festive football I thought I’d go along to watch Stockton Town at their Sixth Form ground.

I went to Stockton Sixth Form back in the early eighties but it wasn’t a great success. I had no real interest in learning and spent most of my time there recovering from nights out at Bentleys and Gaskins or skipping lessons for fictitious dental appointments. By the time they booted me out I should have had better teeth than Steve McClaren.

One thing I did turn up for in my time there were football matches. I was the keeper for the B team, with the occasional first team call up when their keeper had a genuine dental appointment. We played on the same pitch as Stockton Town do now, in a way.  You have to ignore that the pitch has been rotated ninety degrees and the grass replaced with an artificial surface. If you can put that to one side, you’d never notice the difference.

For this Northern League Division One game with Thornaby I took my grandson Harry. I paid seven quid for me and a pound for him. That’s a big difference from the Boro where it would have been thirty two pounds for me and seventeen for him for us to stand behind the goal. That’s near enough fifty quid and so it’s no wonder I rarely go anymore.

And as if to show the benefits of getting kids through the turnstiles we then spent another twenty quid or more on a golden goal ticket, programme, scarf, burger, hot dog, two hot chocolates and a coffee. The coffee was for me.

We were there quite early and so able to get a couple of the unreserved seats in the small stand along the side. There was also a shed type stand to our left populated mainly by blokes in santa hats. With the crowd exceeding a thousand, we did well to get a seat.

This will probably be the last season that the Northern League will see of Stockton Town as they are clear at the top of the table and with three teams going up they are more than likely to be playing in the Northern Premier League Division One North-West when August comes around.

That will be quite a rise for Stockton as it’s only about three years since they were in the Wearside League. In fact it’s only about ten years since they started a men’s team. They were playing as Hartburn Juniors up until then. I discovered all this reading the programme and also learned that they were founded by Derrick Small, one of my former bosses at Capper Pipes back in the day. Well done Derrick.

Sadly for the visitors, Thornaby might be two divisions apart by then with them kicking off this game in the third from bottom spot. Stockton were in yellow and blue with Thornaby in orange.

Not a lot happened in the first half and Harry, having been told by me that there might well be five or six goals, declared it a boring game. He also confided to me that he’d thought we were going to the Boro match. The fella next to me attributed the lack of goals to Thornaby being up for it and Stockton having enjoying their Christmas lunch too much.

In the second half Stockton stepped up the pressure but struggled to make the breakthrough. Our main interest as the game went on was the golden goal ticket that had a time of seventy five minutes and which we’d agreed to split the fifty quid prize. We hadn’t checked the exact time that the game had restarted but with around a quarter of an hour to go a Stockton player curled one into the corner of the net through a crowded box. We waited for an announcement of the goal time but there wasn’t one. I’ve a vague recollection of reading somewhere that local residents objected and so no announcements are made.

The goal was enough to secure the three points and the three points were enough to consolidate Stockton’s place at the top of the table. When it became apparent that there would be no goal time announcement we made an early dart, pretty much as I done throughout my brief stay at the college all those years ago. A later check online revealed the time of the goal to be seventy-eight minutes.

Thornaby v Stockton Town, Monday 26th August 2019, 11am

October 23, 2019

I’d had a fair bit to do after getting back to the UK so it was a while before I got around to fitting a game in. A bank holiday Northern League derby was perfect though for getting back into it and so Jen and I made the short trip to Thornaby’s  Teesdale  Park.

It was a long walk in down a back lane. There were a few cars parked by the verges including a couple that had blocked a taxi in. The driver seemed resigned to his fate and I wondered if he was secretly happy to hang around and watch the game.

It was six quid to get in, which Jen thought quite expensive for a match that I’d described to her as being in the ninth tier of English football. I didn’t think it was too bad though. You don’t get much for that sort of cash these days.

There were a few choices for sitting or standing. We could have gone in the main covered stand, or in an open stand behind one of the goals. There were some outdoor tables in the club house that you probably had to get there quite early for and, as ever, the option of just leaning on the perimeter barrier. It was a dry, sunny day though and so we sat on the grassy bank across the pitch from the dug outs.

The keepers caught our attention early on, with the Stockton goalie being described by a kid behind me as a “pound shop Schmeichel”. I was initially impressed that the pre-teen would even know of the former Man United keeper before twigging that it was more likely Peter’s boy that he was referring to.

The other goalie was notable for wearing gloves that went so far up his arms that from a distance Jen thought he had plaster casts on them. When I questioned the likelihood of a goalie turning out in that condition she reminded me that it was a Bank Holiday and suggested that, in view of the other demands on their time, the clubs might very well have been struggling to put teams of fully fit players together.

The ground continued to fill up over the first half with the attendance later being announced as 470. That’s pretty good for a ninth tier game and I suspect  the morning kick-off time probably played  a part.

A moment after a fella nearby had commented how evenly balanced the game had been to date, Stockton took the lead when Kevin Hayes hit a speculative shot from distance that evaded the home keeper. A few minutes later Nathan Mulligan, who I seem to remember was on Boro’s books a while ago, rifled home across the keeper for a two goal half-time lead.

The second half was largely as even as the first had been and for a while it looked as if that brief spell just before the break had cost Thornaby. However, as the game drew towards its conclusion Kevin Hayes appeared to miss-hit a cross that wrong-footed the Thornaby keeper and dropped behind him into the net. The scorer looked more sheepish than the goalie did. At the death and with people heading off to their barbecues, Mikey Roberts broke through for the visitors and hit the cleanest finish of the game for Stockton’s fourth.

It wasn’t really a game where there seemed to be four goals difference between the teams, but Stockton were just that bit more clinical when it mattered .