About Me

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Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
I am a Northern League supporter without a club to favour and double as a sometime genealogist who has researched his family tree back to the early 1600's, compiling a file of individual relatives totalling just over 3,000 names. I have been happily married to Maureen for 49 years. We have 1 son, 3 daughters, 14 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, and absolutely no money!

Saturday, 30 August 2008

30/08/08 Billingham Synthonia 0-2 Ryton

FA Cup Preliminary Round

The first opportunity of the game fell to Ryton in the 1st minute of play. My good mate, Craig Marron fed the ball to Glenn Reay who was clear on goal. His shot however, went wide of the target without testing Synners keeper Peter Keen. Billingham almost opened the scoring after 22 minutes. A Simon Shaw corner from the left was cleared only as far as Michael Jameson, he took a touch before unleashing a shot that had Ryton keeper Ben Starford beaten, but watched agonisingly as it struck the cross-bar. The visitors opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Carl Paterson ran at the heart of the Synthonia defence who backed off, then after a quick 1-2 with Tony Healer, the Ryton man coolly finished with a low left-foot shot past Keen.

Half-time: Synners 0, Ryton 1 and Ryton Manager Barry Fleming, (pictured below) looks as though he has been on the receiving end!
It was Ryton who had the next goal opportunity. A Reay shot in the 53rd minute was blocked, but the ball fell to Healer, his deflected shot had Keen beaten, but struck the upright. Synners then pressed hard, keeping the ball in the final third for a good 5 minute spell, with three corners and numerous long throw-ins from Joel Guy into the box.After withstanding the pressure, the visitors then put Billingham on the back foot. A good attacking move in the 70th minute ended with Steven Shaw shooting wide. Then a speculative Marron free-kick from 30 yards went just over the bar.
Synners had a great chance to equalise in the 76th minute. Michael Cater sent Tyson Masters through on goal with a defence-splitting pass. Masters produced a good shot but Starford matched it to make the save and hold on under pressure from Iley.
Ryton came back at Billingham, and in the 79th minute a long Marron pass was helped on by Reay to Marc Walton, whose shot brought a good save from Keen.
In the 80th minute a Keen clearance was charged down by Healer, the ball spun kindly for the Ryton man who produced a fine finish into the far corner of the net to extend the visitors' lead.
Synthonia tried to salvage something from the game, but couldn't break through a well organised Ryton defence. Jameson created a half chance in the 84th minute, but his shot was straight at Starford. Then in the closing minute a 25-yard Simon Shaw free-kick went well wide, summing up the hosts afternoon. I didn't win the raffle, which sums up mine! :-)

Attendance: 96

The photograph of Craig Marron (below) appears courtesy of Mark Fletcher, whose portfolio of the game can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mark_fletcher/sets/72157607039196509/

Sunday, 24 August 2008

23/08/08 Birtley Town 2-1 Crook Town

Northern League Division 2

I always enjoy the craic with the lads from Crook and I also feel comfortable at Birtley so this was an easy choice for me. Having made sure the game was going ahead following the heavy rain over the past week, I then spent a pleasant hour in the William IV Hotel in the company of the fathers of two of the Birtley players.
Birtley have registered a lot of players this season - 42 at the last count - so there were several new faces on view in the green and white hoops. Crook were suffering from players absences due to injury, holidays and family events and their supporters were just a little worried about the outcome as the defence had been the hardest hit.
This last fact became evident early on as Birtley opened the scoring in the 8th minute by virtue of one of my old favourites, former Esh Winning, Washington and Seaham Red Star front-runner Steve Burns, with a clever right-foot strike from wide left into the far corner. Just 6 minutes later, Birtley went further ahead when Andy Innes turned in a nice cross from the right by Phil Sowerby to round off a powerful attacking move.
2-0 at half time and Birtley were worthy of their lead for all their hard work.
Crook management duo Peter Dixon and me old mate, former Birtley Assistant Manager Paul Foster, made a substitution at the start of the 2nd half which seemed to have an effect. Crook became more direct in their attacks and managed to hit the woodwork on three occasions. Their was a strong shout for handball in the penalty area on about 65 minutes which I thought was a certain penalty but it wasn't given. With 10 minutes left, another handball claim was given and Darren Kokes hit his spot-kick hard and low into the left corner. There followed more frantic attacks by Crook but resolute defending by the Birtley defence marshalled by new signings Martin Nugent and Robbie Houghton ensured the points for Birtley.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

West Auckland Town 2-1 Hall Road Rangers

I chose this FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Tie as I had not been to Darlington Road for about 3 seasons and I thought it was time I put that right.

West Auckland is famous for being the first team ever to win the World Cup! Sir Thomas Lipton, a multi-millionaire and keen sportsman, put up a trophy for a tournament to be played in Italy in 1909. Apparently, none of the higher profile English clubs were interested so, West Auckland took up the challenge and ended up as winners! Two years later, they were invited to defend their title, which they did. The players, mostly coal-miners, had to finance their trip to Italy themselves and when they returned home, they had to sell the trophy to redeem a debt of £40. The full story of their World Cup exploits can be found at http://www.westaucklandweb.co.uk/

West Auckland has one of those grounds which are apparently unique to County Durham, having been affected by subsidence and the pitch resembles a handkerchief held at the four corners.

The match started off well, Rangers looked the more dangerous but when West attacked, the Rangers defence looked a little suspect and I thought that West would be able to exploit that weakness. Each side had a player sent off inside the first 20 minutes - my Facebook Friend, Dale Jardine retaliated after a nasty two-footed tackle on him and both players were red-carded.

0-0 at half time. Rangers took the lead against the run of play in the 52nd. minute, courtesy of Martin Thacker with a rocket shot into the top corner. West replied 2 minutes later through Ian Maddison. Steve Flockett put West into the lead with about 15 minutes left.

The mince 'n' onion pies were delicious - I had two (!?!), but my day was rounded off by winning the second prize of 4 cans of ale in the half time draw!

Photographs of my match day at West Auckland can be found at http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/blackfelladder/WestAucklandTownVHallRoadRangers

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Whitehaven Amateurs 5-1 Washington

It's not much more than 100 miles from Washington to Whitehaven, but the journey took the coach about 3½ hours each way. We arrived at about 14:45 and the kick-off had to be delayed by 15 minutes to allow the visitors time to change and warm up. Nightmare!

Whitehaven's ground is part of a sports complex, nicely laid out but only accessible down a very narrow lane - the driver must have been a bag of nerves by the time we got there. There is a very good playing surface and probably the minimum requirement of seating and covered standing.

Although Whitehaven were not 4 goals better than Washington, they did take advantage of a disorganised Washington defence on more than one occasion.

Scorers: Whitehaven - Lee Dixon pen, 6 minutes, Carl McGrady, 21 minutes, o.g. 41 minutes (not sure who), Kevin Law, 47 minutes, helped into the net by Bradley Brooking, Craig Robson, who took advantage of a mix-up between the Washy keeper and one of his defenders to round off a very impressive personal performance with his goal into an empty net.

Washington - Derek Waters with a very clever left-footed free kick on 52 minutes.

League Chairman Mike Amos arrived at half time with League Chaplain Rev Leo Osborn after their sponsored walk. Fair play to the both of them the weather was not very nice, to say the least.
My photos from my day at Whitehaven are to be found at

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Counting Down

It is now less than a week away to the start of the Northern League season and I am unhappy at having been able to watch only one of all the friendlies which have been staged over the past few weeks. It's a sin how much family and work can get in the way of a man's hobby! All I can do is dream of getting to a match every day!