Ground hopping: The Road to Wembley & Home! Spennymoor v Shildon 29th Aug 2011 & Spennymoor v S*nderland RCA 3rd Sep 2011–FA Cup

Its been a while since I have blogged. In my defence, its been a busy time. I have also been away from home the last week.

Well when I say away from home, I mean away from our London pad and staying at our country pad. “Our?” What do you mean by “Our?” I hear you ask. [ Or is it just those voices in my head again? You know the ones that keep telling me to pick up that knife and kill everyone] I am of course referring to Michelle and I.

After Michelle and Josh spending 4 weeks living down here in London, just as the riots started, we spent a week together on Tyneside. Well, when I say Tyneside, I mean the Tyne Valley. A most beautiful part of the country.

Whilst up there, I took the chance to go and watch Spennymoor Town FC in two games. Firstly on Monday, Spennymoor played host to Shildon in the Northern League in front of a crowd of 505. Given that Spennymoor were unbeaten this season and the reigning league champions, I expected a decent performance. Sadly, I was wrong.

A 3-0 home win would seem to tell a different story you may think. Well, until about the 70th minute the score was 0-0 and both sides were as bad as each other. Then Spennymoor brought on Keith Graydon as sub and he immediately changed the play. A penalty was awarded in 78th minute for a great save by the last Shildon player as he tipped the ball over the bar. Sadly for Shildon he wasn’t the goalkeeper and the referee saw it. A red card and a converted penalty ended the game. Almost immediately after this and a 2nd penalty for a foul and a 2nd goal (no red card this time). Then the goal of the game as Ruddy curled a great effort into the top of the net for a rather flattering 3-0 result.

This was Michelle and Josh’s first trip to the Brewery Field. Their verdict? The curry on the chips was good. Sadly, I think that verdict was about correct. Still it was a 3-0 win and another unbeaten game.

After the game I met my parents and went for a meal with them before returning to their home and playing a board game from my past. When I was a kid, we had a board game based on the London Underground system where you had to visit various stations. I’ve not seen the game in around 30 or so years. I even tried the London Transport Museum to buy a copy to no avail. However, Michelle found the game on sale in Hamley’s and bought it. The differences since 1972 are incredible, with many more underground lines and stations to use. It makes the game much harder to play, especially when you are drunk eh dad? Sadly, I didn’t win, but neither di I storm off  in a sulk – I must be maturing.

London Game

Tuesday 30th August brought a trip to Blackpool for Michelle, Josh and I. This time we did not stay at The Midland Hotel but instead stayed at the Premier Inn. Why did we go to Blackpool I hear you ask.? Well, Josh had never been to the Blackpool Illuminations so as they were to be switched on this week on 2nd September, it seemed a good time to go. Still with me?

Its not as stupid as it sounds. One night each year, in the week before the official turning on of the Blackpool Hallucinations, sorry Illuminations, the good folks of Blackpool close the seafront from Starr Gate to Bispham to all motorised transport so that cyclists can Ride the Lights. We rode the 5 miles route twice in each direction and also did a few extra miles to and from the seafront. in total we managed to ride 27 miles. Josh had only ever ridden a road bike on about 3 occasions before this. He looked good on the bike and so natural. Michelle again has only ridden a road bike a few times. Despite riding amongst somewhere in the region of 10,000 other cyclists, many of whom were a danger to others, neither Josh nor Michelle came to any harm. I have to say their riding skills are very good.

Obviously, to Ride the Lights we had to ensure our bikes were suitably lit. This meant fitting lights to the bikes being ridden by Josh & Michelle. The hardest part was fitting the lights in a place that meant they would not be obstructed when the bike was being ridden.

After the ride ended, we had showers and then headed to the hotel bar for a few bottles of wine (Coke for Josh – honestly) before the bar called last orders at midnight. Then it was time to satisfy the munchies with a late night walk to a pizza/ kebab shop. Finding the way out of the car park was hard after a few glasses of Vino as I am sure Michelle will confirm. Whilst waiting for our low calories pizzas, Michelle got chatting with a drunken “sweaty sock”[ Scottish person!]. I have to say it was surprise to find a drunken Scotsman. Its not often you find a Scotsman who is drunk.

Anyway, that was Blackpool. No horse’s heads at breakfast, no toilet rolls 5’ up the wall, no rules everywhere you look in the Premier Inn. Oh and the Midland Hotel appeared to be shut down now- karma!

Saturday brought a trip to Spennymoor to see them play S*nderland RCA in the FA Cup Preliminary Round. A game between the league leaders (RCA) and the league champions, (Spennymoor) with both sides unbeaten this season.

Unlike Monday, this was a rather enthralling game. A proper cup tie that was determined by a 1st half goal courtesy of a 25 yard drive from Harwood for Spennymoor.

The rain that poured down all afternoon did little to dampen the competitive atmosphere. The RCA players contested every decision of the referee and were lucky not to have more players booked for dissent.. RCA even managed to miss a penalty. They hit the post in the second half as well as forcing a couple of good saves from the Spennymoor keeper.

A 1-0 win to Spennymoor was not an unfair reflection of the game, but by the same token if RCA had earned a replay then Spennymoor could not have complained.

Unlike  Last Time I saw Spennymoor play RCA, there was no outburst from the Spennymoor manager. In fact, I have to say that given one or two of the decisions, I was surprised there were not more complaints from the  bench. It was interesting to see from my seat near the bench how the manager changed the game at relevant points with his tactical knowledge and well timed substitutions.

Spennymoor have a large squad and many players who would walk into most other teams. One of the issues for a side like this is how to keep everyone happy. It was good to see that the manager thanked everyone who was substituted for their contribution and that he has clearly fostered a good team spirit there.The sign of a good manager.

So the Moors are still on the Road to Wembley.


Me, sadly today I had to take the road home to London as I am back at work tomorrow.

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