Posts Tagged ‘Wallington’

Ponteland United v Wallington, Saturday 20th August 2022, 2.30pm

August 28, 2022

Jen and I were up north for a party. It was an excellent evening and whilst I enjoyed meeting new people, the best part was catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen for, in some cases, as little as a fortnight, and others ranging from anything from a few months to thirty-odd years. Even for those that I’d not seen for a long time the conversations fell easily into place as if we’d just picked up the chatting from the last occasion that we spoke.

As good as the party was, I didn’t want to start the drinking at two in the afternoon and so Jen and I headed for Ponteland first and a game in the eleventh tier Northern Alliance Premier Division. Ponteland looks to be a fairly posh commuter village, a place where geordies move to when they’ve ‘made it’. Alan Shearer once lived there, and I imagine that if Ant and Dec didn’t have to work down south they would probably be lunching in the Blackbird pub as we did.

There’s a Pele tower too. Nothing to do with the Brazilian, by all accounts, but a place where the vicar would hide from marauders by cunningly ‘going upstairs’. I’m not sure you get many marauders these days or how much protection the tower would provide in its current state, but I’m glad it hasn’t been turned into a florist or a nail salon.

The game took place at Ponteland Primary School. It’s a big pitch if it is usually used by the under elevens. Ponteland United have recently moved to a nearby leisure centre but that pitch wasn’t quite ready. It means that I got the opportunity to tick off the school pitch and I’ll no doubt return to see them at their new place before long.

The sign on the gate stated that it was two quid to get in, but nobody was taking any money. We were an official short too, with just the one lino accompanying the ref on their long trek from the changies. Each of the teams provided a replacement for one half and both did a good job at enthusiastically flagging the opposition offside.

Ponteland were in Newcastle colours with visitors Wallington in green and black. The home side took the lead ten minutes in and held on to it until half-time.

The second half was marred by rain. Normally I wouldn’t have been too bothered by light drizzle, but I only had the one coat with me and didn’t want to have to turn up at the party soaked through. I’d spotted a gap in the fence behind one of the goals and I drove around from the school car park and positioned the car so that I could see the far goal. Whenever the rain stopped I got out and watched from the rail and when it started up again I followed the progress from the more comfortable and drier front seat.

I got lucky in that all four goals in the second half were scored by Ponteland at the end that I could see. They ran out five-nil winners and I was perfectly placed to drive off to the party the moment the ref blew the final whistle.

Wallington v Alnwick Town, Friday 8th April 2022, 7pm

April 10, 2022

I’d been intending to take in a game at Whitley Park for a while as it’s the home of the Newcastle U23 side and their fixtures keep appearing on my futbology app. I’d spotted this game on Twitter though as a consequence of following any number of obscure sources and with a free evening I headed north to watch the final of the Northumberland FA Football Safety Officers Association Benevolent Bowl.

Whitley Park isn’t far beyond the Tyne Tunnel. It’s a route that I’m a lot happier using now that I’ve discovered that you can pre-pay for up to ten tickets in advance. Having to get home and remember to pay online had been pissing me off, but now I can just drive through without any thought other than a mental calculation of how many of my ten trips I’ve used.

What I invariably do wonder though, is what it would be like if water started gushing in? I’m sure it will have been covered in some disaster movie and each time I travel through the tunnel I imagine having to out-pace a wave of water gushing in from behind. It’s not a scary prospect like, for example, those recurring dreams I have where I fall out of a cargo plane with an open ramp at the back, more of a curiosity as to whether I’d be able to make the end of the tunnel. Probably not and, I suppose, one reason why pre-paying too far ahead may not be prudent.

It was three quid in with team sheets available and a digital programme that I downloaded with one of those Q-Codes. Wallington were taking on Alnwick Town, both teams being in the top division of the Northern Alliance, so that’s tier eleven of the pyramid.

I’d not heard much about Wallington, but Alnwick Town were in the Northern League until around four years ago and as their ground dates back to the arse end of the nineteen century I’ve long had plans to head up there for a game. Wallington were in green and black with Alnwick in black and white

There was a full clubhouse with a bar and with a buffet laid out on some tables at one end. I presumed that it was intended for committee members or safety officers as it certainly wouldn’t have been enough to have fed a crowd of over three hundred. I settled for a cheeseburger from the tea hut and then took a seat in one of the two covered stands that ran along one side of the well-maintained pitch.

A dozen or so Alnwick fans had taken over the terrace behind the goal to my left. They chanted about the Wallington support being “fuckin’ shite” and pondered loudly whether Whitley Park might be the kind of establishment where books could be borrowed. One threw a used air horn on to the net defended by the Wallington goalie. It all seemed a little too earnest for this level.

I recognised the ref. Mainly because he had officiated at a game I’d attended last week and because he has such a startling likeness to one of my former brothers-in-law that for a while I’d thought it was him.

It was only when I realised that Mick is a good thirty years older than the ref that I concluded that it wasn’t him. That and the different names. I find I often see people out and about that I think I know only to realise that the person I’ve noticed looks like someone did long ago. If I were to chance upon the person that I thought I’d spotted the reality is that by now they will be bald or grey and wear Sketchers to accommodate their bunions.

Alnwick had a elderly striker who was getting for that stage in life and he spent the game berating the ref and getting into scraps with the opposing defence. It seemed that he thrived by having a strop on with the world and everything in it. A bit like my Mam when I take her shopping. The odds on the angry bloke’s side taking the trophy dropped when they opened the scoring with a quarter of an hour to go but Wallington equalised within a couple of minutes and then deservedly clinched the Bowl with a second goal towards the end.

I stayed for the presentation and obligatory jumping up and down, then headed back through the tunnel, putting my foot down in case of leaks.