As mentioned, Newcastle BS play in the Unibond League Division One (North) and currently sit in second place in the table. They were controversially promoted to the league last year, after finishing 11th in the Northern League, in order to make up the numbers in the re-organisation of the pyramid. Altrincham, of course, play in the top tier of non-league football, the Conference and currently sit in their usual place amongst the middle to bottom of the table (they have avoided relegation for the past three seasons due to the misfortunes of other clubs).
Kingston Park is neat and tidy, with a capacity of 10,000 and all the comforts of a modern stadium. It has a very large all seated stand along one side of the pitch and as smaller seated stand opposite, which has the clubhouse directly behind it. There is a large covered terrace behind one goal and a smaller open terrace behind the other. I have to say the pitch looked in great nick too, especially after a rugby game and heavy rain in the previous 48 hours. The ground would easily satisfy football league criteria, but its highly unlikely that that day will ever come as there is simply not the support. Newcastle’s average gate is less than 150 and the crowd in attendance today is around 300 and it does create a eerie atmosphere in such a large stadium.
I paid my £7 to entrance and then the bleeders ripped me off by charging £3 for the programme. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask! It was dreadful and pretty thin on content. I don’t want to be disparaging as I appreciate the effort that goes into producing a programme, but I’ve seen better efforts for a fraction of the price.
Just to compound my mood the game was pretty crap. Newcastle took the lead within a minute and then never really took advantage after that. They were happy to let Altrincham back into the game and it was no surprise when they soon levelled and took then took the lead right on half time. I was expecting Newcastle to come out second half with all guns blazing, but it never happened and both teams seemed to go through the motions and a poor Altrincham side was never in trouble as they saw the game out.
It will now be a case of seeing what the first round proper brings and whether there is a chance to fit in another game, otherwise this is the end of my FA Cup journey for this season, I hope it isn’t the case as I would be disappointed if this damp squib of a game was the one that brought my journey to its conclusion.