Sunday, 20 September 2015

19.9.15 - North Shields (a)

This was always going to be a case of After the Lord Mayor's Show after Tuesday's drama. This sounds an amazing statement considering the Coastico had been the most anticipated confrontation when the fixtures had been announced but there was no way Tuesday's drama could be replicated, surely? The meeting of the FA Vase holders and the most successful FA Vase team in history (and 2016 winners hopefully) was becoming more than just a local derby.
Apart from the fact that I knew half of the children from my school would be there supporting Shields and ready to rib me on Monday morning, there was also the memory of two Bay demolitions by the men in red the previous season.
The Boy Mark  and his daughter (for her first ever Bay game) was kept waiting outside yours truly's  as I raced back from masterminding a 3-0 victory for my girls' team in Hexham. He was extremely anxious about getting in considering the queues the previous year and I was extremely anxious because I hadn't had anything to eat since 8am that morning - an eternity!
Arriving 20 minutes before kick-off there were not the queues that had met us the previous time, as the lure of watching Newcastle lose at home to Watford proved too big for some but the regulars were there including the Shields Ultras who spent the whole match chanting about hating Whitley (with an occasional song about winning the FA Vase once upon a time: tongue firmly in cheek). Despite the lack of choral variety (IMHO) it was great to see this level of support for a team at this level. Okay so, Bay fans nowadays are more sedate but we always travel in large numbers and having two well supported teams at this level can only be good for the league. Those people who spent £30+ in the big city certainly missed out by not coming to the coast.
Having missed out on lunch there was time for the healthy option for fitness fanatics the world over: mince and onion pie (it did have onion in), crisps (sadly not a canny bag of Tudor but did have VEGETABLE oil in) and a can of coke. Sure enough as I cued for my goodies there were repeated cries of
"Hello Mr Stephenson!" from some of the children I teach and would probably to take stick from on Monday. By the time I had finished my feast, Shields had already begun battering the Bay and a repeat of last season looked on the cards.
....and the Boy Mark and daughter
 partake of  refreshments
Attention was briefly drawn away from the game by the lovely lady with the confectionery trolley, who was struggling along by herself, pushing her wares along the grass behind us because 'her husband had to work'! Some kind soul must have suggested she use the flagstones instead as she made quicker progress later on.
Whitley were starting to whether the storm with 25 minutes gone when, against the run of play, Chris Bannon in the Shields goal dropped a long throw and Alex 'wunderkind' Kempster slammed it in. The ground was stunned, but we should have had faith: this was the new Whitley - the one that doesn't give up and challenges for every ball. The tough tackling and workrate at the back had paid off!
The spirit of Tuesday night was still there, despite our worries.
There was more delight ten minutes later when a ball was threaded through perfectly for Chuck Norris to advance on Bannon, who tried waving at Chuck to put him off but Chuck perfectly slotted the ball past him. Was this really happening?
You beauties!
The Gentlemen's Club with their impressive array of flags hanging up were not amused! And neither was the lone Shields fan behind Jennison's goal who spent the whole match berating anyone he could: mostly the ref and the Bay players.
Five minutes into the second half it looked like there would not be a happy ending for us as Jennison this time, palmed the ball straight to a Shields player who blasted it in from just outside the six yard box. Not the start to the second half we wanted. However, no matter how much the home team huffed and puffed, they couldn't blow the Whitley house down. Apart from a lone occasion when Shields managed to get the ball past Jennison, only for an angelic linesman to rule offside,  the Bay defence held firm. There was even a chance for Williamson to head off on a mazy run which ended up with Bannon saving well.
Determination! You shall not pass!
Our celestial hero!
This was going to be our day again! The men on the mount began singing "Can you run!" incessantly for the last five minutes and you had to wonder how much they missed the bad old days of English football. At the final whistle there was relief but a renewed sense of pride in the team. 'Paddy Power' seemed to be working. Two amazing performances in a week! You could have forgiven the lads if they had lost this after the FA Cup game but no...they wanted more, and it had all been achieved without the talisman that is the Shanksivator!
Exciting times are returning to Hillheads! Roll on the Cup games! Haway the Bay!
Not as dramatic as Tuesday but every bit as satisfying...

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