As well as your venerable correspondent's musings, which you may find witty, lucid and concise; or maybe not, there are of course other writers and writings available on the website. Not least the match reports, which many people have had a go at over the years, some better than others, but all game chaps, and which have been the province of our sadly departed secretary Mr Jones for the past few seasons. And very good his were too. A tough act to follow. But someone has to do it, and we have a new guy, no less than Simon the photographer, who having replaced the legendary Tim with élan, has also ventured to write the last few match reports. Who knew? It turns out our snapper is a veritable Oscar Wilde, a maestro of the pen, a reborn Neville Cardus, a new Brian Glanville. In short, very good indeed. Very, very good. Gets all the facts in, as required of journalists, and adds a few flights of fancy to keep the more literary types engaged. He could of course be making a rod for his own back with his outstanding first efforts, he might have been better advised to start slowly and build up. I certainly did the start slowly bit. Anyway looks like a right good signing, long may he continue. And if he gets head hunted by The Sunday Times we can all say we knew him first.
View from the cemetery
Could have been and should have been an unlikely Wearside double on Saturday, when the lads at the SoL managed a first home win of the season while we were going well at home to Consett. Two up inside eight minutes and in front until the 89th minute, and then good enough to get in front again after Consett’s equalising penalty, we still managed to concede a second equaliser with the last kick of the game. Not for the first or even the second time this season, it is becoming a bad habit. The performance was good, particularly early on, but Consett are a bit of a bogey side for us and no mistake. Still, you couldn’t say it wasn’t entertaining, especially the first eight and last seven minutes.
You can have too much of a good thing they say, so presumably this applies in spades to your humble correspondent’s drivel. Blame the fixture secretary is my only defence. Quite a rush of games, four home matches in eleven days is tough on everybody. Pitch to keep right, clubhouse to keep stocked, programme to be written, and changing rooms to be cleaned; mucky so and so’s some of these footballers, and not just the away sides, I understand there are major rumbles of discontent from those who wield the mops. Lads, clean up your mess!
Good day on Saturday gone. Very tight, competitive game against a tough side who you could tell are used to winning over the past few years, but in the end we just had enough to squeeze past Stockton Town. So we play one game and here we are in the last sixty four, seems a bit harsh on some of those who have been playing since September, but we don’t make the rules. My old dad used to say that as he slaughtered me at some game or other. Except he did make the rules. I digress, but do these exemptions for last season’s successes help clubs to prosper? Maybe, I’m not sure. It might be that those early season games get you into the swing of things. In any event there were some parallels between Saturday’s game and last season’s first game in the Vase, against Bridlington at home you might remember, some time early in September. Both went to extra time, and both times we scraped through. Mind, a midweek replay down at Stockton would have been a bit less daunting than last year, when we faced a long journey and a late night in Bridlington, which was not a very popular possibility with certain parties, as I recall.
Two thousand, six hundred and fifty one. A nice number. Most of you will not need telling that was the crowd last Saturday at Mariners Park for the Shields derby. Amazing. A bit embarrassing for those clubs, I hesitate to name names, who can generate barely any interest in the biggest city in the North East, but maybe it's just one of those things. Very good for the league in general and non league football on Tyneside in particular, TV and press coverage and a lot of word of mouth about what good entertainment and good value the Northern League offers. It should help us all.
However back to the business in hand. Vase today, against interesting opposition and in international week so not much else to do and hopefully a good few will take a trip to Meadow Park for their football fix. I don’t think anybody will be disappointed. We played Stockton a while back in a cup tie and a cracking game it was. Maybe Wembley for the winners?
I saw our friends from the Stadium of Light on TV last week, not very good was it? Another unwanted record for the bold boys, worst start ever evidently. Still, don’t despair, with that lot you just never know. I was going to consider the relative strength of the teams they have played this season, starting from the premise that nobody gets relegated by getting beat off Arsenal, so I went to look at the SAFC website. I don’t say it’s impossible to find results on the website, but I couldn’t find them. I did notice however that the five headings on the first page are Buy Tickets, Buy Kit, Buy Merchandise, Book Hospitality, and Book Hotel Room. And then there’s a little logo in Chinese, which is helpful. Entertaining and revealing when people give themselves away unconsciously isn’t it? Don’t ask us how we are doing, just spend money and get on with it.
Still, there are more important matters. Mister Trump continues his outlandish bid to become President of the USA, and might be getting closer. A frightening thought is President Trump, although I think Hillary will still make it. Americans are amazed that we are so interested in their politics evidently, as they have no interest in ours. But then we aren’t likely to blow them all up. Then again it is supposedly true that a random selection of Americans asked to point out Britain on a map usually pick Japan. And most Americans don’t have a passport, and maybe as few as 10% ever travel overseas. Which you would think should give them time to think about their own affairs with more care.
Damn good game of cricket on show in Bangladesh over the past few days, don’t know if you noticed? The first test in Chittagong, nice town, Bangladesh versus England of course. The usually easily rolled over Bangladeshis performed very well and with a little bit more belief could have beaten England for the first time. They didn’t of course, and largely due in the end to Durham’s own, Ben Stokes. Talk about mixed feelings. There was I very disgruntled with the English cricket establishment after their treatment of Durham and happy to see England’s posh boys get embarrassed, when one of the Durham lads pulls the assorted southern softies out of the proverbial fertiliser. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Still, look on the practical side I says, and see if this can be turned to one's advantage. And yes, I believe it can. It is my considered opinion that in the upcoming series against India England will get well and truly trounced, and the English punter being the misguided fool he so often is, and prepared to back England no matter what, this will present a number and ongoing range of excellent betting opportunities. Lump on the Indians, as John Wayne used to say. You heard it here, don’t come crying to me.
For those gentlemen not yet dead, but maybe rapidly approaching it, there is a newish pastime available of which I have been hearing a few tales, and I might have mentioned before: I speak of Walking Football for the over fifties. I use capital letters because by all accounts some people are starting to take it seriously. The idea is to keep those with a love of the game, but no longer keen on, or that capable of, running about and getting kicked, involved and enjoying it again. Good idea. The FA are even talking about producing a set of rules. A reliable source tells me this is all well and good, except nobody takes any notice of the minimal rules that apply now. My reporter also says it's a real good game if played in the right spirit, with an emphasis on good passing and clever movement, but some, mostly he reckons those who didn’t play much in their younger days, but have managed to stay reasonably fit by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol and by going to the gym, have a tendency to spoil it by running about aimlessly and wellying the ball in all directions and none. This may be nothing but prejudice of course from someone who fancies himself as an undiscovered Paul Scholes. Anyway it seems to be booming, which is a good thing of course, keeping the elderly on their feet and dancing is to be encouraged, but I can’t see it becoming a spectator sport, unless the sight of old men falling over and falling out floats your boat.