Sunday, 15 February 2015

Billingham Synthonia (h) 14th February 2015

Lost and abandoned....
supermarket trolleys
have feelings too!
Surely there would be a present for the Bay fans tonight after three postponed games. With six new faces in the starting line-up and more waiting to come in there was the sense that Paddy had had his own spree at the non-league supermarket, which seemed prophetic as I walked past the back of Marden Bridge Middle school and found an abandoned shopping trolley. Going for my good deed of the day I decided to take it back to its home in Morrisons car park with his friends: surely this act of selfless community spirit that would be rewarded on the footie field!
Who he....?
And he.....? He.....?
The start of the game was more solid than spectacular and both teams seemed to be happy to kick lumps out of each under the watchful eyes of our least-favourite referee Mr Keogh from Blyth. Having said that there wasn't anything controversial from the white-haired fact there wasn't anything to speak of. A dull, but very physical confrontation had occasional moments as Whitley tended to do most of the pressing. Stanger and Williamson looked to have settled in well however it was obvious that Birdie and MacFarland were still managing to ignore each other on the pitch, refusing to pass to each other, preferring to take on three or four players and lose the ball. The sooner someone knocks their heads together, metaphorically, the better. They both have to be the most skilful players on the team and if they could play together then what a devastating right hand side we would have. Today was not to be that day as they barely seemed to know the other existed.
The game continued to be a aerial battle with the ball being lumped backwards and forwards and our concentration wavered slightly as Bob went on about how much he had enjoyed Shields' FA vase victory the previous weekend. Whenever Bob goes on like this The Boy Mark and I tend to switch off from the legend that is the man that is our friend Bob. All we tend to hear is "North Shields, blah blah, blah...." as our ears tend to turn off to his praise of our nearest and dearest. I'm sorry to say this about such a knowledgeable friend but it is all a bit too hard to take at the moment. In fact my first ever football match was North Shields FA Cup tie in the early 1980s against Wallsall: a 3-0 defeat. All I remember was the riot that accompanied and being disappointed when, as a naive 12-year-old, I had found a great spot, with acres of space, to watch the game on the Appleby Park 'Kop' only to be dragged away by my mate seconds before Wallsall and Shields fans charged at each other, swamping 'my space' in the process. I would occasionally visit Appleby Park when I wasn't watching that lot in the big toon yet when I moved to Whitley Bay in 1996 that became part of my past. I wish them well in the FA Vase but wouldn't go to watch them unless the Bay were playing. They were devastating at Hillheads and I would always applaud good play, from either side but that is where it stops. Whitley are my home town more than the big toon team ever were and as a result I have that special connection that can't be matter how bad we play.
Smoke engulfing the ground from someone's bonfire in the allotments behind the Billingham goal stopped Bob in his tracks and I wondered whether it was an attempt by some over-zealous fan to generate a continental-style atmosphere. However when its noxious fumes forced everyone into coughing fits, decided that it was the debris of winter burning that was making us smart. The first half had got that bad!
 Our attention then turned to the ever-wandering Barry's protracted discussions about buying a Blue Star badge from the bloke standing in front of us which we had hoped to be something more interesting. When Bob turned his attention back to the Bay our ears pricked up as he told us about all the clubs sniffing around Chris Reid (Blyth....again) and Birdie's transport problems getting from Seaham for each game...he certainly is a mine of information. By the time the conversation had turned to the bargains of working men's clubs and the great view from the upstairs bar of the Cullercoats Crescent Club out onto Cullercoats bay, the first half had ended with the scores locked at 0-0. Not a thriller but at least we were not behind.
It was good to see Tommy back in his little hut after being ill for our last visit to the ground. A welcome cup of tea and Bovril later we set to discussing why the sun had disappeared the moment Tommy and had pointed it out to us.
Unfortunately the second half was a great anti-climax as a Billingham goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the lads. I even took to recording freekicks and corners in a vain attempt to catch a golden moment on camera....but it didn't work. Just to prove that we were not destined to win Paddy brought the strangely anonymous Kempster off to put another defender on in the form of Chris MacDonald...3-0 was not a true reflection of the play but Whitley had hardly created much.
 Apart from the top banter (you had to have been there...imho...honestly: all welcome!) there was nothing much to say about the football. Here are the excuses that we could think of:
1. So many new players take time to bed in.
2. The long lay-off has left the players rusty.
3. It will take time for Paddy's tactical genius to take hold (we only seem to have mastered the big boot at the moment. Next step is big boot to a Whitley player).
4. I didn't wear my big green coat.
Bob decided not to venture off to see the big clash with Blyth on Tuesday and The Boy will be at his brother-in-law's wedding in London so I will be looking forward to a cracking performance from the Bay. It says something when he said he was gutted to be missing the Bay game...even after that performance. A true fan and his suggestion for the blog's song of the day is genius! Cheers mate.

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