Wednesday, 7 January 2015

December 6th 2015: Bedlington (h)

The look of foreboding!
I was quite relieved to have missed the previous home game because of my dear mam and dad's 50th wedding anniversary (I know loyalty to the team, blah blah...but it was 50 years and they have been canny to me all my life and I wanted to keep my head intact).  The Boy Mark had told me it was probably as dire as the Marske (0-7) and Shildon (0-5) games. At last now he couldn't try to make out that I was a jinx. However we were still excited to be wrapped up and coming out for another game...suckers! I decided to take my sketch book for a change so I could document the excitement that was undoubtedly going to follow although there was a huge sense of foreboding.
The good people of Whitley Bay hadn't shared our excitement at an evening out at Hillheads as the crowd of barely 200 failed to inspire yet as the game kicked off there was something different about the team. When they had the ball they didn't just throw it forward in a vain attempt to start the attacking ball rolling. In fact they were controlling the game simply by keeping possession and when the natural urge to hoy the ball elsewhere (and hope someone in a blue shirt claimed it) appeared it was suppressed like an unwanted tick. Instead the ball was laid off to a team-mate and another opening sought.
The Bay were being patient. At first Robbie Birdie Bird was getting frustrated because the ball wasn't coming to him on the right wing, however suddenly the patient build up meant the rest of the team began to see his runs and the amount of space he had. The ball started to move around. Even better than this was the workrate of young lad Scott Prosser in the middle of the park, who harried and even won balls that didn't look like he deserved. Although disappointing (and concerning) to be told by Chow that he wasn't playing tonight (still suffering from his nasty head injury on Boxing Day), in his absence another youngster Hylton Laws  was making darting runs and generally getting about the pitch: Statto Paul even called him a revelation. Both he and a rejuvenated Peter Watling were working hard and although there weren't many clear-cut chances created in the first half there was applause for the boys as they left the field.
The moving pitch...did it help the team play better?
It was then that Mark read the latest twitter feed that had been posted 7 seconds before kick off and therefore been missed in the excitement of the first half: we had a manager: Paddy Atkinson! Two things went through my mind :Who? and Good! I'm afraid my knowledge of other managers and teams around the non-league scene is scant so we did had to Google him but the fact is that whether he was in charge or not - our eyes couldn't make out the figure on the far side of the pitch - there had been a definite improvement in play. I would even go so far as to say it was the best performance since the glory days of Chan. The play was controlled and use of daft balls didn't occur. Laws and McFarlane looked confident at the back. That is not to say anything against Leon and co but we had never controlled a game in the way we had in the first half.
Wild celebrations
More wild celebrations
The bad old ways returned at the beginning of the second half and Bedlington took advantage to score. But this was not the team of Saturday...the Bay took greater control and started probing on both wings. When the Robster Birdie Bird sprinted into the box, he was brought down and a penalty was duly awarded. Peter 'the Great' Watling stepped up and scored to wild celebrations on the terraces.
Those who had thought that they had had their fill of excitement were to be surprised when Hylton 'the Judge' Laws went full length to head in the winner.
Although there were a few moments of panic as Bedlington threatened an equaliser it was to be our evening. A 2-1 win was no more than we deserved. The song "Can we play you every week" sprang to mind: this was our 3rd victory over the Terriers and even though they had a shiny scoreboard and substitutions board (show offs), we had the six points and victory in the Vase: all of which myself and the Boy Mark had witnessed. Fab!

Let's hope Paddy has the Golden touch...(sorry best I could think of)

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