Well its been a hectic few days. I took Thursday & Friday off work to enable me to drive up to Newcastle & cook a Valentine’s Day meal for Michelle – ever the romantic me. It was of course entirely co-incidental that on the Friday, Spennymoor Town the reigning triple Northern League Champions were playing at home to the current Northern League leaders, Darlington. It would take a cynical person to suggest otherwise.
The best laid plans started to go wrong almost from the start, but actually worked out well.
Firstly, Michelle had to take a school trip to Eden Camp in North Yorkshire meaning she would not get home until around 19:30 so we would be eating late.
Secondly, Michelle decided she wanted to go to the football on Friday night, but it was an all ticket game and officially a sell out. A few phone calls and a bit of pleading by me managed to locate a ticket for the game from one of the extra tickets the council had allowed Spennymoor to sell. It did however mean I had to go to the ground to collect it on the Thursday afternoon. I had arranged to meet the General Manager of the club, Steve Lawson at 15:00. This just allowed me time to pop into see my parents for a cup of tea whilst on my way from London to Michelle’s.
I got to the ground at 15:00 but Steve wasn’t there. However, one of the committee members Brian was on the pitch clearing away snow and water. When I first saw the pitch I would have said the game had been in doubt. Brian and others had been working since 08:00 to clear the pitch. Whilst waiting for Steve, I grabbed a shovel and helped Brian for an hour or so to clear the pitch.
Steve eventually arrived with a device to dry the pitch he had borrowed from another club. As well as sorting that out, he was sorting out the catering vans arriving at the ground, fielding phone calls from all and sundry. He was spending Valentine’s night at the ground getting things ready for the biggest crowd at a Northern League game for nearly 60 years. That is not to forget the work done by Brian, Terry and all the other club officials and volunteers.
I eventually got up to Newcastle & started to prepare the meal for Michelle. I had decided to prepare a curry. The only problem was I couldn’t decide which curry to make, so I ended up making a prawn curry, a chicken tikka masala and a chicken jalfrezi. Then there was also a starter to make, but at least I only made one starter. Michelle has not gone down with food poisoning yet, so it appears I can cook. She even has a freezer full of curries to keep her going. Its about time I cooked for her as she always cooks for me and sends me home with a doggie bag.
Well Friday came and time for the big match. It seems incredible that a football game at level 9 of the football pyramid could be an all ticket affair with segregation in place, police in attendance. 2670 people attended the game, being Spennymoor’s biggest crowd for 35 year and the biggest Northern League gate for around 60 years.
The game was won by Darlington 3-1 with Darlington doing what they seem to do every week and come from behind to win. It took 35 minutes for Darlington to have their first shot, and what a shot it was. All I will say about the game is that Darlington were worthy winners. For reviews of the game, see www.spennymoortownfc.co.uk or www.darlington1883.co.uk. As ever, Hayley has highlights of the game on her website NLFPP
more pictures of the game/ ground/ crowd can be seen online at
Despite there being such a large crowd at the game, I have to say that I personally thought the atmosphere was rather flat. I had expected more noise from both sets of supporters. Perhaps I had expected too much, but I had expected a lot more atmosphere before the game and in the opening stages.
THE PRIDE OF DARLINGTON
Sadly, some people at the game seem to have strange ideas of how to behave or what is acceptable. Spennymoor gave Darlington more than 1/2 the tickets for the ground. They put a bar on in the visiting section of the ground and arranged extra catering for the Darlington fans, who you will remember were the visiting side. Despite all this effort, you get muppets posting things like this on twitter
Screwed over by Spennymoor already. Poorest stands, poorest food, poorest entrance and poorest bar
Clearly some people do indeed have no respect as they correctly posted. I’m not sure what this prize idiot expects. Perhaps he needs to take a reality check.
Sadly he wasn’t the only idiot at the game. The advertising hoarding were damaged by some idiots in the Darlington end, and then look at the behaviour of the brain donor in the adidas tracksuit top in the clip below. I hope his fellow Darlington fans are proud of his behaviour and that of those with him who broke the advertising hoardings down.
I should make it clear that it is only a small number of Darlington fans who have caused any problems, but even that number is too many. They get the majority of good Darlington fans a bad name. They fail to realise their behaviour inevitably reflects on the name of Darlington and their fellow football fans.
Why does this matter? Well, unlike a premiership club, every penny matters to clubs at this level and most of the work is done by volunteers. There is no need for such damage of puerile behaviour and it is not the first time this season crowd behaviour has been called into question, mainly involving Darlington fans, but not exclusively. Sadly it seems that yobbish selfish behaviour and showing a lack of respect has spread down to this level of football.
Back home after the game, Michelle and I shared a few bottles of wine and stayed up far too late, especially as I was heading off to Sheffield to see Tom & go to Rotherham v Chesterfield at the New York Stadium. Another ground off the 92 to be done! Going to bed after lots of alcohol at 03:00 is probably not a sensible idea when I had to be on the road by 09:00.
One final item regarding the Spennymoor v Darlington game concerns a spectator at the game. you may recall “ON THE SHED” watching the game at Shildon v Spennymoor or his cockney cousin “ON THE CHAIR” at Barkingside v Great Yarmouth. Well at last Spennymoor have their own member of this exclusive club – “ON THE BED” Why pay £6 to get into a game when you can sit on your bed and watch the game
Part 2 of the Ground Hopping weekend to follow