Most people who know me will testify, i'm a groundhopper. Most people who know me may testify i'm slightly mad. Either way, I travel around various football grounds of this island and, sometimes, beyond to watch the beautiful game.
Most of my travels encompass the non-league game and, with my inane ramblings, I will attempt to show you where my travels take me and, also, try to show you that there is footballing life beyond the so-called "best league in Europe"
I hope you enjoy reading!
11.30am, Saturday 9th April 2011 Northern League Division Two Whickham 1-1 Washington Attendance: 90
It was an early start for the journey north for what had been dubbed ‘northern league day’. It was an idea to try and attract a few more fans through the gate at Ryton (see below) but the main attraction for us groundhoppers was when an early kick off was arranged in conjuction with Ryton, so a cheeky double could be done.
I had the luxury of being chauffeured today so I could have a couple of beers and relax a bit more than usual, once the programmes were in the bag of course!
Whickham’s The Glebe Sports Ground, as the name suggests, is a dual ground with an adjacent cricket pitch. There is a stand behind one of goals and other that nothing else. Luckily today it was a gloriously sunny day and the only need for shelter was to get out of heat for a few minutes.
The was nothing riding on the game and it was generally poor. It had a definite 'end of season' feel to it. The hot weather perhaps didn't help the teams either. Whickham looked the better side and maybe should've scored more than the one goal they did. Just before the half time interval a ball was played into the six yard box and appeared to be turned into his own net by a Washington defender.
The second half was a non-event but with a couple of minutes remaining Washington grabbed what seemed an unlikely equaliser when Brett Turner got on the end of cross to fire home at the far post.
I must give thanks to both sides for agreeing to the early kick off, it was just a shame they weren't rewarded with a bigger crowd than the 90 that did turn up.
3.00pm, Saturday 9th April 2011
Northern League Division One
Ryton 5-3 Billingham Synthonia
After a couple of beers in the superb Keelman (the brewery tap for the Big Lamp Brewery) it was on to Kingsley Park, in the village of Crawcrook, for the second game of the day. What a great ground. A real hotchpotch of stands, including the ingenious use of old bus shelters and, on a clear sunny day, great views of the Tyneside countryside.
This was a much better game than this morning, or maybe the Big Lamp’s 7.4% Old genie was clouding my judgement! The homesters belied their lowly position (they have already been relegated) to win their first game in 40 odd attempts. Despite the scoreline it was a very even game and Ryton seemed to score with more or less every attempt on goal they had!
It was level at the break, Chris Mcabe giving Ryton the lead on 12 minutes before James MacGowan drew Synthonia level on 25 minutes. Billingham finished the half stronger creating a few good chances and there was no indication of what was to follow.
Ryton came out for the second half and blew The Sinners away with a goal blitz to race into a 5-1 lead. Robert Frame made it 2-1 on 49 minutes, before Mcabe made it 3-1 on 55 minutes. Mcabe completed his hat-trick on 70 minutes. Billingham still kept going and on 77 minutes hit the post but it was Ryton who scored, Daniel Wilson going up the other end of the pitch to make it 5-1. Synthonia scored twice in a minute in the dying moments, MacGowan completing his hat-trick (87 & 88) to add a bit of respectability to the scoreline but who would begrudge Ryton a long overdue win.
An enjoyable day out in the noth east and, as I always seem to say, I really should make the effort to get more of these grounds ticked off!