Friday, 27 November 2015

21st November 2015 - FA Vase round 2 - Dunston (h)

Tribute to the Paris 130.
......and Moira's new hat.
As many readers will know, my footballing allegiances are split between two teams -the Mighty Bay and the Mighty Racing Club de Lens from Northern France. My other blog (Northern Lensois) explains how this all came about and so the tragic events of the previous Friday night had left me in a state of shock. Throughout the latter part of that evening I found it hard to understand what pint could have been achieved by attacking people simply enjoying the two loves (apart from my lovely family) in my life: football and music. Just a year before I had been in the Stade de France  as Lens played Paris while their ground was being redeveloped for Euro 2016. The Boy Mark's wife had been at the Eagles of Death Metal (the band playing at the Bataclan when it was attacked) gig in Newcastle the Monday before and her friend had bought a poster from the t-shirt man who had been one of the first to lose his life that tragic night. My facebook account had been filled later with announcements of my fellow Lens fans and friends who had been present at the Stade de France and declared themselves safe but how many had not survived....I had no idea. It was both shocking and surreal.
The following Thursday night I had spent part of an excellent Maximo Park concert with my girls checking entry and exit points to ensure that we could at least stand a chance of escape should the inconceivable happen. The world had gone to pot.
I decided that I needed to show my support for my buddies across the channel so spent an evening with my permanent markers designing my Whitley Bay tricolore tribute flag which may well be making its appearance on a more regular basis at Bay matches. If nothing else it will serve as a reminder to me of the importance of carrying on in the face of tragedy. The response of the footballing world in the following week was certainly an amazing show of solidarity and a step forward in improving the tarnished image of the game: if only a small one.
Non-league football felt completely safe in comparison - if only because it is a world away from everything and everybody else in football. Our triumphs and passions easily pass the rest of the world by because they rarely read the News Guardian.
Although today's match meant a lot to the loyal fans of the two clubs there was little attention from the outside world and the fact that there was a little encounter in the big Toon meant the crowd was smallish. But here we were - the big Vase clash and a chance for revenge on the team that had knocked us out of the last two FA Vases. Surely it had to be third time lucky!
The team sheet board listed the club's achievements in winning the Vase four times and I felt certain that this was to be our chance to take a step closer to the fifth. The team had lost Captain Chris through another injury setback but surely they would bounce back? Shanksy's frustration at not scoring in the last two games would boil over and he would break his lack of goalscoring with a sensational hat-trick and the Hughster and Kempstervator would knock a couple of corkers in with Chuck Norris coming off the bench to set up four of them. That would leave time for a piledriver from Berty Bertram to round the afternoon off. Mint!
The Moaning of life?
The return from injury of Jennison, although Gladstone had filled in with increased confidence, was my first good omen of the day. It seemed that everything would go our way! But then it began to unravel. The Bay attacked the Car Park End in the first half - never a good sign and it was all hands to the pump as Dunston produced a string of chances that had Jennison leaping left, right and centre to keep them out. Up front Shanksie was getting hardly any service and becoming frustrated as he fought for the meagre scraps on offer. The one bright spot was the Kempstervator's ability to beat his defender at will but his cutbacks rarely fell to a ball player.
El Presidente
Queuing for the half time cuppas, there was great relief we weren't behind. Not even the sight of Tommy - El Presidente - sporting his magnificent Bay Buff and supporter's club sweatshirt could change the mood of our group. Surely the second half would be different. It was worse. Dunston's Morien quickly delighted their small band of fans with the opener which, according to Paddy, was miles offside.
The response from Whitley was brief and when Jennison's attempt at clearing the ball went cruelly wrong (....a divet?!!!!!), Morien was given the simplest of tasks to slot the ball into the empty net.
Fourteen minutes from time, Berty Bertram gave us hope when he lashed a spectacular 20-yard volley into the near corner of the Dunston net, infuriating Carl Pilkington look-a-like keeper Andrew Clark. Unfortunately despite the huffing and puffing of the Whitley forwards they hardly looked like equalising and so once again we were out of the Vase to Dunston at an early stage!
The trip home was made in silence. We were gutted. The Wembley song went back in the box for another year.....

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