Posts Tagged ‘Wearside League’

Coxhoe Athletic v Ferryhill Athletic, Saturday 17th September 2022, 2.30pm

October 3, 2022

With the Boro not playing until the evening I had the chance to take in a game in the afternoon and so I went along to Beechfield Park for the twelfth-tier Wearside League Division Two fixture between Coxhoe Athletic and Ferryhill Athletic. It was two quid admission, or at least it should have been. The bloke on the turnstile told me that as I looked like a pensioner, he would only charge me a quid. I didn’t know whether to be pleased or not.

I had a few options for watching the game. There was a fifty-seater covered stand down one side, with a covered standing area nearby. On the top of an embankment behind one goal was a sort of dugout that might accommodate three or four people at a push and there a run-down covered area on the opposite side, next to the entrance. It was like a shed with a wall missing.

After watching from the rail for a while I took a seat in the stand. I got non-stop analysis from the two fellas behind me, although I wondered how good their knowledge was when with the game half an hour old, one of them suddenly noticed that his nephew was playing.

Coxhoe were in red, with Ferryhill in yellow. The visitors had some early chances, usually on the break, but with a few minutes remaining in the first-half Coxhoe squared the ball into the centre for a simple finish and a one-nil lead at the break.

Ferryhill made some substitutions in the second half and started to boss the midfield. There were two penalties in the space of four minutes, one for each side, but neither converted. The second one caused a Ferryhill player to say something to the ref that earned him ten minutes in the sinbin.

With time running out Ferryhill made their pressure count with an equalizer after one of their strikers cut inside and finished well. Both sides went for the winner and Ferryhill nicked the points with a goal two minutes into stoppage time. Quite a turnaround.

Windscale v Richmond Town, Wednesday 31st August 2022, 7.45pm

September 4, 2022

Harry and Isla had gone back to Teesside ready for the start of the new school year, leaving Jen and I with a few days left in The Lakes. I’d noticed that the Ennerdale Show was taking place and so we thought that we’d have a wander along. There were various competitions such as best pair of carrots, best set of three hounds, a bit of horse parading and even some fell running. We didn’t enter anything.

The dog was soon bored with looking at beagles that were half his width and so we left after a couple of hours and went for a walk at Ennerdale Water. There were far fewer people around and with a free car park and well signposted walking trails I was surprised that it wasn’t more popular. Perhaps everyone was at the show, focusing on winning Best Six Peas in a Pod.

That evening we called in to Egremont for a Wearside League Premier Division game between Windscale and Richmond Town. I know Egremont pretty well, or at least I knew it well thirty years ago when working at Sellafield. Thursday nights frequently culminated in the Old Hall nightclub for what was known as ‘Grab a Granny’ night. Looking back, it seemed like anyone in their thirties was considered a granny those days and it may very well be that some of them were.

Jen and I still had Henry with us and that caused a problem when I noticed the sign at the Falcon Club entrance prohibiting dogs. It’s a reasonable restriction as I’m sure plenty of dog owners would just bring their pooch for a walk, perhaps when a game wasn’t taking place, and then let it piss or crap on the grass.

Jen very kindly offered to skip the delights of eleventh-tier football and take Henry for a walk around the neighbouring estate. There was nobody taking money at the gate and probably around fifty people lined up around the perimeter fence.

If you look at the map of Wearside League teams, Windscale are the only one on the west side of the country. The rest are, well, in or around Wearside. I’ve no idea how Windscale ended up in a league that otherwise comprises clubs from a small part of the north-east and I doubt that it’s a popular journey for visiting teams and officials.

Windscale were in blue, with Richmond Town in red. The visitors had the best of the play for most of the first half, but it was Windscale that took the lead half an hour in with a well-directed header from a free kick. They could have doubled their lead just before the break when a shot from the edge of the box hit the inside of the post and somehow bounced out rather than in.

Henry and Jen completed their walk and returned to the car park during the half-time interval. That was my cue to call it a night and follow the remainder of the game on Windscale’s twitter feed. It took them until added time to notch a second goal and seal the points.

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.

Wolviston v Shildon Reserves, Saturday 19th March 2022, 1.30pm

March 23, 2022

With the Boro not kicking off until 5.15pm Harry and I had a chance to take in an early afternoon game. The most convenient was the Wearside League Division One fixture between Wolviston and Shildon Reserves at Metcalfe Park. It was three quid for me and a pound for the grandson. That‘s about right for the eleventh tier.

There was a hut just inside the ground selling food and drink and a picnic area with tables and benches next to it. We started off over in the three-row covered stand on the far side but didn’t stay there for long as it was shaded and about ten degrees cooler than standing on the rail in the sun.

Harry soon found a kid to kick a ball about with and spent most of the game doing that rather than watching.

It was a standard late season encounter with nothing at stake as Wolviston, in blue, were twelfth in the table and Shildon, in red, just the one place above. Neither is going to be involved in the promotion or relegation battles other than as a third party. The home side had the better chances early on, but the visitors came more into the game as the first half went on. It was goalless at the break.

Shildon took the lead soon after the restart following a ball into the box that the defence should really have dealt with. There was a quick equaliser from Wolviston though that I missed as I was watching Harry but everyone reckoned that it resulted from a good turn from someone. There were no more goals and a meaningless mid-table fixture finished in a draw.

Wheatley Hill W.M.C v Ryhope Colliery Welfare U23, Saturday 5th February 2022, 1.30pm

February 10, 2022

Harry and I got back from the Boro’s game at Old Trafford earlyish on the Saturday morning and after dropping him off I should really have got on with some outstanding jobs. I had a quick look on the Wearside League website though and saw that there was a game with a 1.30pm kick-off just a twenty-minute drive up the road. The jobs could wait.

The fixture that I’d spotted was in the First Round of the Clem Smith Bowl. I’d never heard of the competition or of Clem Smith. It featured two sides from the twelfth-tier Second Division of the Wearside League, Wheatley Hill Working Men’s Club and Ryhope Colliery Welfare Under Twenty-Threes. Wheatley Hill play at the Old Fire Station, a ground that took some finding.

I’ve never been to Wheatley Hill before and to be honest its unlikely that I’ll have a reason to return unless it’s part of some witness protection programme. I reckon you could hide someone there indefinitely as long as they could resist the urge to nip back to civilization every now and then.

My sat nav initially took me down a farm track which in hindsight wasn’t too far from where I wanted to be, but with fences between my car and the pitch it might as well have been miles away. Wheatley Hill isn’t a big place though and I eventually stumbled across the game. There wasn’t an old fire station anywhere within sight, so maybe The Field Near To The Allotments Ground might have been a better name.

The game was a few minutes old by the time I’d parked up and made my way in via a gate at one corner of the field. Wheatley Hill were in yellow and black with Ryhope in red and white. I hadn’t missed any goals. A quick count up of the crowd suggested that I was the seventh spectator.

As so often happens at this level the linos were drawn from the ranks of the subs or coaching staff. Neither of the press-ganged fellas on this occasion were keen to be involved and one kept the flag in his coat pocket whilst the other left the flag on the floor and picked it up only when absolutely necessary.

Wheatley Hill took the lead a few minutes after I arrived with a poorly struck shot that bounced in off a post whilst the keeper, who had chosen not to dive, watched on in horror. The standard was as bad as I’ve seen for a while, but the uneven pitch and terrible weather didn’t help at all. I wouldn’t have fancied turning out in the wind and rain. Actually I didn’t fancy watching either, it was just too cold and wet. I called it a day long before half-time and checked on the result later. It had finished as a two-all draw with the home side taking the tie on pens.

Shotton Colliery v Darlington Town, Tuesday 16th November 2021, 7.45pm

November 21, 2021

One of the things that I’d planned to do on coming back to the UK was to get my Grandson Harry more involved in going to football. It’s getting on for two years since we’ve been to a game together and when some childcare duties clashed with a match that I’d been intending to go to I took him along.

He was wearing his ‘leavers’ hoodie that his class had all been given at school that afternoon. As it’s only November I assumed that he’d been expelled.

The last game that we had attended together was the Boro against Spurs in the Cup and so I thought an eleventh tier Wearside Division One fixture between Shotton Colliery and Redcar Town might not hold his interest for long. It was two quid in for me and fifty pence for him. No programmes, team sheets or seats. There was a covered standing section in case it rained but we just stayed on the barrier close to the half-way line.

Shotton were in blue and a man down from about a quarter of an hour in after an uncontrolled tackle that sparked plenty of shoving from both teams. There was niggle throughout the match but no goals in the first half. We warmed up with a coffee and a tea from a hut behind one of the goals.

Redcar took advantage of having the extra man and went ahead early in the second half. They wasted a lot of chances to kill the game off before scoring at the death with a lofted shot from at least forty yards that caught the keeper just far enough off his line to dip in. Harry reckoned that it was a decent game and so I’ll bring him along again. Whilst games where you don’t care who wins are fine, I’ll have to get him to some Boro games too so that he can watch his team and learn all about disappointment.

Darlington Railway Athletic v Wolviston, Wednesday 22nd September 2021, 7pm

October 6, 2021

I’ve worked in Darlo a couple of time, firstly for Press at their Haughton Road offices thirty-odd years ago. For some reason, I’d got Haughton Road confused with the Brinkburn Road location of Darlington Railway Athletic’s ground and so spent a good twenty minutes driving up and down the road where I used to work wondering why I couldn’t find a ground that I’d never previously seen there anyway.

Fortunately, Jen was with me and she took a more sensible approach of using the sat nav on her phone and we successfully spotted the Brinkburn Road floodlights with time to spare.

You go in through the entrance to the social club so if anyone did fancy watching for free then it shouldn’t have been too difficult to evade paying simply by telling them that you were there for a pint and to watch Man United versus West Ham on the telly. There were no programmes or team sheets but the bloke on the door offered to track me down if he could get hold of a team sheet for me. I’m not really that bothered. I don’t keep them, but I do like to have a quick check to see if any of the players are known to me.

Jen and I started off in the covered stand behind a goal. It was a terrible view though and we quickly moved to a better vantage point leaning on a railing along the side of the pitch. Darlington went one up very early on but I missed all bar it hitting the net as I’d been trying to get a decent photo of a spaniel that was sleeping next to the dug-outs. From what I did see it looked to be a spectacular goal.

Both benches were very shouty with Wolviston in particular appealing for everything. We moved a bit further round to spare my eardrums from the needless racket. Wolviston were clearly on top in the first half and a well-worked headed goal doubled their lead.

At half-time we wandered into the clubhouse for a cup of tea. Despite the Man United game being on the telly everyone’s attention was on a cat that had strayed indoors. It hid under tables and resisted any attempt to shepherd it towards an open door. With the players returning to the field, it was still giving staff the runaround and so we left them to it.

Wolviston just about clinched the points with their third goal early in the second half, although Darlington did pull one back before a fourth Wolviston goal finally settled matters. The standard was decent for an eleventh tier Wearside League game, as was the attendance of one hundred and four people, three dogs and one cat.