Sunday, 29 March 2015

24th March 2015 - West Auckland (h)

Will the pot of gold be in Hillheads once more?
It was a low key visit to Hillheads for the visit of West Auckland. Our record against them hadn't been great so when the Boy Mark picked me up we weren't too optimistic. However the performance the previous Saturday suggested we would not be humiliated. There was hope of a new phase beginning for the Once-Mighty-Soon-to-be-Again Bay when a full rainbow could be seen the day before the match above Whitley. It had to be a sign! There was more excitement for the fans entering the ground (well me) as the usual fare of 60s hits blaring out of the musical soul-destroying tannoy had been replaced by eighties hits: namely my favourite Smiths track Big Mouth Strikes Again followed by a more mellower Bob Dylan. It was also nice to see the referee and linesmen had coordinated their hairstyles: all three bald as a coot! Don't try that one Lucy!

Yet again the modest crowd looked just over 200, which was a shame, given the improved form and standard of play. There was a surprise change in goal, with McCafferty replacing Flynn (a response to Saturday's flap-gate?). Also Robinson returned to the starting line-up for the first time since being injured: a reward for his part in a late fightback against Guisborough? Despite the error for the Guisborough winner, Flynn had performed heroics at times to keep the Bay in the game so it looked a bit harsh if that was the reason he found himself on the bench.
Bob and the Boy Mark go crazy after Robo's wonder strike!
The Bay took the game straight to the visitors right from the start and there were the trademark quick passes out of defence and with Birdie and Kempster causing problems on the wings, things were looking good. A shot was cleared off the line and the West keeper had to be on his metal to keep a number of great shots out. There was joy amongst the 255 crowd when Robo made a nifty turn before spectacularly finding the top corner of the net! The Whitley workrate was phenomenal but it was hard to see how they could keep that up in the second half. Also hard to fathom was the new craze that was beginning to appear at Hillheads of men wearing shorts in the cold evening. These were not athletes who had just popped in on the way home from their run, practice or match. No! These were deliberate attempts to pretend that Summer was here and could only end in hypothermia and manflu! Never mind the fact that they were, on the whole, the most horrendous collection of faded 70s fashion wear. No! Men of Whitley don't be tempted again! Not even if it is Summer: not with those legs!
Take it like a man and
drink your bovril!
As if to prove their disapproval of the whole fashion shorts situation West scored. The ball was slotted through to their number nine, Matthew Moffat, to score against the run of play. Please not a Guisborough repeat show we cried at half time.
It was cold comfort that our brave group had avoided the shorts rebellion by wearing multiple layers as we supped our purchases from Tommy's Tavern. We were still freezing and West had been let back into the match. We were joined for the second half by Newly Neal, who I hadn't seen since our excursion to Blyth: hopefully a last minute opposition goal wouldn't by signalled by his arrival.
The second half looked ominous as West pushed forward with renewed energy but Whitley held firm and soaked up the pressure. McBride could have put us back into the lead when Robo played him in but his effort flashed over. It was at this point that the need for a new set of strips became obvious as Bob pointed out the size of Birdie's shorts in relation to the rest of his body. The drag factor alone was enough to stop him scoring and a new set of strips would mean an end to the legacy hanging over the club since visiting Wembley: four long years ago!
Food for the Big Coat Crew there?
And Farrell scores!
West were now turning up the screw and it was all hands to the pump for the Bay. However when we needed a hero, up stepped the Bald Bandido, Farrell: still not sporting a moustache. The hairless wonder took a pass from Robo on the edge of the West box before launching a sublime effort into the top corner (yes again) and in so doing avoided the outstretched hand of the West keeper Lowson: a bit too Low he was. (sorry best I can do).
This was still plenty of heart-in-mouth stuff, including McCafferty clearing the ball straight at a visiting striker without him capitalising but Andy Farrell personified the new spirit with his tackling and was rewarded with a friendly punch from a blue striped shirt after typically battling to retain the ball deep into injury time.
 The final whistle was welcomed and there was a warm fuzzy feeling around NE25 as the Paddy revolution gained momentum!
Getting home and tucked up in bed reading the programme with a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cake, it was sad to read that the loyal face of Whitley David Hall would not be a feature of any more Bay games as he is moving to Malta. A big fan of everything Whitley and not a fan of my own past with Newcastle's Ice Hockey scene, it is sad to see such a loyal fan leaving. It must have been a good way to end his supporting career. He bid everyone farewell standing by the car park gate and I am sure we all wish  him a safe journey and good luck in his new life: it will certainly be warmer!

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