July 2013 – From now on, all football related posts are in a separate blog at http://www.spen666.blogspot.co.uk entitled “The Beautiful Game?”
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As it plays such a big part in my life, I thought I’d explain my interests in football. As a child growing up in County Durham, I used to go to watch Bishop Auckland play as my parents would go shopping in Bishop Auckland each saturday and at around 7 years old I would be going to their games whilst my parents went to the shops.
As I got older, probably around 8 or 9, I started going to watch Spennymoor United play with a friend from the cub scouts. I remember at the age of 9 going with my friend to see Spennymoor beat Southport then in Division 4 (now League 2). Despite going a goal down in the first ten minutes, Spennymoor fought back to win 4-1. A major giant killing act.
Would parents these days allow 2 nine-year olds to travel 2 miles to watch an FA Cup first round tie against a league club? There would be a crowd of around 2000 at the game. I got the bus down to the town and back after the game. RRemember this was in the days before mobile phones etc so my parents had no way of checking where I was.
That era was a great one for Spennymoor. In 1977/8 they again got to the FA Cup first round and beat Goole at home before losing at Rotherham in the 2nd round. However, that season brought a great run in the FA Trophy ( the major non league competition). Spennymoor reached the semi final, losing the first leg 2-0 @ Leatherhead. In the second leg the Moors stormed into a 2-0 lead and were dominating the game. Wembley was surely inevitable. However, disaster struck late on in the game when Leatherhead got a corner and the goalkeeper collide with a defender allowing Leatherhead to score and 3-2 on aggregate. That defeat was the worst moment I have experienced as a football fan. Watching my team get relegated was not as bad as this. Losing FA Cup Finals are not as painful.
I have strted getting into watching Spennymoor once again. They are now Spennymoor Town instead of Spennymoor United as the old club went bankrupt and a new club was fornmed. The new club has won the Northern League for the last 3 seasons. This is the 2nd oldest league in the world. This season, I am even sponsoring the kit for one of the players. Why you maty ask? Well seeing the work and effort put into running the club, I feel proud to assist the club in its efforts.
From about the age of 16, I started going to Newcastle United matches regularly. Below this age, I was only really able to go when my father took me, as we lived some 25 miles and at least 2 buses from Newcastle. Following Newcastle, soon became an obsession, following them to win promotion in 1983/1984 under Kevin Keegan’s captaincy.
Relegation followed in 1988 and things gradually declined until in 1991/2 Newcastle went to Leicester on the last day of the season needing the right combination of results to avoid dropping to the 3rd tier of English football, and almost certain bankruptcy. That was a day those of us who were there will never forget. Newcastle won 2-1, but the game never finished because of crowd trouble. It was the first time that police in riot gear had been employed in an English football ground. Seeing the riot police appear was a sobering moment, even though I was not one of those on the pitch.
The next 8 years were a roller coaster as Newcastle won promotion, finished runners-up in the Premiership twice and played in the Champions League. It all came to an end as the team declined in the mid 2000s. I also moved to London in 2000 so only attended infrequent games from then on at Newcastle and started watching Leyton Orient my local club instead.
Watching Newcastle over the years has brought many adventures and trips across Britain as well as Europe. Two cup final defeats, two FA Cup semi final defeats and getting into the last 16 in the Champions League being highlights of the 1992-2002 era. Low spots, Keegan resigning twice, Graham Souness, JFK, Sam Allardyce, losing at home to the Mackems in the rain when Gullitt chose to drop Shearer and Drunken Duncan Ferguson.
Watching Leyton Orient is done more for comedy value, and because it is so cheap. Season tickets for Tom and I cost around 1/2 the cost of one season ticket at Newcastle. Orient are currently in the third tier of English football, so the standard is not that high. However, it is a very friendly club, and I go with numerous friends to the games, so it’s a nice diversion from real life.
- I have no longer got a season ticket at Leyton Orient although I do still go regularly. I have an arrangement with a couple of friends that allows me to get a ticket for the game for the cost of a meal in the local greasy soon cafe! Its a mutually beneficial arrangement for us all. I like to see Orient do well, but if they lose I am over it by the time I get back to my car or to the tube station. Its a win win situation for me.
- I have managed over the years to visit all 92 Premiership & Football League Grounds. I have seen some teams play at several “home grounds”. for example I have seen Charlton play home games at The Valley, at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and at West Ham’s Upton Park. Many other clubs have moved grounds, eg Arsenal from Highbury to The Emirates, so I have visited both grounds. Travelling to so many football grounds have given me a good understanding of the geography of England and Wales.
- If I am in London on a weekend and Mchelle is not down visiting, then I can often be found visiting a non league game, just to visit a new ground- “ground hopping” in colloquial language. I know its a very sad thing. Its the football equivalent of train spotting I was told recently by a work colleague. I was going to argue the point with her, but realised she was actually right.