I’m sorry to bring this up, but this recent run of wins in the league, Hebburn excepted, and by all accounts that was very unlucky, has had me looking at the whereabouts of clubs who ply their trade in the Northern Premier East Division. Just starting to worry a bit that’s all, as we rise relentlessly up the league. I don’t know if the lads’ noses are starting to bleed but mine certainly is. Anyway, there are some interesting clubs amongst the denizens and likely denizens of the Evo-Stik East, to give them their official title. It’s still a bit of a long shot, and God knows how we would manage if we end up elevated to glory, but it does no harm to have a bit of a look see has always been my policy. A few we know well, and a few we know by reputation. Nowt to worry about in football terms I don’t think, and Morpeth, Marske, Shields and others prove that in recent seasons, as does our own trips out and about in the Cup and Vase. But still, some are a bit of a trip, and no mistake. Interesting times we live in. We, though not specifically me, would certainly get to know the way up and down the A1. We shall have to wait and see if Consett and Bishops can revive or Hebburn or Stockton push past us on the run in. Fingers crossed, but I’m not sure which way.
View from the cemetery
Back on track last week with a comprehensive win over Consett, we played well and won well. That means that we have beaten the two sides who will probably finish second and third in the league home and away with an aggregate score of 10-3, and yet are a good eight to nine points behind them at the moment. Frustrating isn’t the word. I think we are better than either Bishops or Consett all things being equal, but a combination of bad luck with injuries and some inexplicable results against sides near the bottom means we most likely can’t prove it this season. Annoying. Still we are on a great run at present, five wins out of six and a fairly full squad to pick from at present. Another strong end to the season looks on, let’s go for it. Been good as well to see Dylan Elliott back in the last few weeks after a few knocks and setbacks this season, and I have also noticed Stevie Callen taking part in the warm ups recently. Be great to see Steve get a few runs before the end of term, having missed most of the season, with a sportsman’s injury, not alcohol related. On we go.
Are the famous old neighbouring townships of Ryhope and Seaham rapidly becoming a proverbial football hotbed? It is starting to look like it. Modesty prevents me from waxing too lyrical about ourselves, for a bit anyway, but the CW and Red Star are certainly starting to attract some notice. Tuesday night’s comprehensive win for the Colliery over at Dunston must be on paper one of their best results for a long time. Very well done indeed. And the Red Star boys are not doing so dusty of late either, with five league wins since Christmas compared to three before then. All three of us looking good to go for another season in the top flight next year, FA shenanigans notwithstanding, and now the only thing we need to do is get more people to come and watch. Lots of good competitive derbies with three sides fighting to be local top dogs can only help. We have Red Star to play in April and so do the CW, so lets hope the interest is good for both of those games, it certainly should be.
Good, good stuff down at Shildon. Very solid, despite Kyle Davis’s unlucky sending off. The video wasn’t clear enough to help him with an appeal, especially as the ref was very well placed and its his view that counts, but there is little doubt it was accidental and that the Shildon player made a meal of it, which leaves a bad taste. Thankfully thereafter he had a stinker of a game, Shildon would probably have been better off if he had seen the red rather than Kyle. Good goals by Kyle and Sparky and for the vast majority of the match little to worry about at the back, with all of the defenders playing well, although a bit of a late panic made things interesting, and a cracking save by Scott Pocklington secured the points. On we go, with Bishops today, another balloon to burst? I hope so, but they will clearly be tough opponents, their form is excellent. Still, we need to push up this table, the three or four ahead of us are well in range so plenty to look forward to before the early end of the season.
So, that’s it for the Vase for another season. Just never quite felt that it was likely this year, we haven’t been able to settle into a run, too many injuries, too many niggling knocks and too many times the ball didn’t quite run for us. Never mind, always next year. No surprise either that the only Northern League teams left in have been drawn together. I don’t think it’s fiddled as so many think, or at least only in the sense that the regionalisation is drawn so tight and goes on through so many rounds that we are bound to be thrown together with fellow Northern League sides more times than anybody wants. Either West or Hebburn have every chance of making it to Wembley, and every good luck to them. No doubt we couldn’t have afforded the new suits anyway.
Still a lot of games to play, even if it is a short season this year. Plenty of league games and one cup competition left, against the modern might of South Shields; must feel like a long way from Peterlee. But from our point of view a County Cup and fourth in the league sounds alright to me, silverware and safely out of trouble at both ends of the table. So there you go boys, crack on.
When I was a kid one of the highlights of Christmas was watching the BBC stars visit young people unlucky enough to be in hospital over the holiday season. The bigwigs of the Beeb with their usual impeccable judgement always picked celebrities who were noted for their rapport with the young. As well as the sainted Roy Castle, these kind hearted notables included the likes of Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall, along with the Salvation Army band and God knows who, I shudder to think, dressed up as Santa Claus. By the way, did anybody else’s dad routinely refer to Santa Claus as “Old Raggy Tash”? I always wondered. Anyway, not knowing then what we all know now, I used to think these kids were dead lucky, and wished I was one of them, though only with something enough to keep me in hospital for a few days, tonsillitis or some such, nothing too serious or painful, just enough to ensure I got a present off Rolf or Jimmy, even if it did mean listening to the Sally Bash band or heaven forbid, Helen Shapiro, who I seem to remember was often up for this gig. I was a lovely child. Where are they now?
The Durham County Challenge Cup. It has a bit of a ring to it, doesn’t it? And a long and notable history, going back to 1884, when Sunderland were the first winners. Sunderland, or Sunderland A, the reserves I guess back in the day, dominated from the start through to the end of the twenties, with nineteen victories before they must have decided it was a bit beneath them, and didn’t win it again until, the now simply Reserves, triumphed in 1966. Bishops won it for the first time in 1892, Stockton in 1895, Tow Law in 1896, Shildon in 1908, and plenty of other names that are still around up to Consett last year. But in the context of today the name that stands out locally is of course our neighbours Ryhope CW, winners in 1978. Must be plenty of those old boys still knocking about, any at the match today I wonder? Maybe nor given we beat the CW on Saturday, but you never know. Anyway a damn fine competition to win, and the two teams turning out at Meadow Park tonight must have a decent chance of lifting the Cup this season, but only one can go through tonight of course. Best of luck to both teams, may the best win and all that.