GAME OF THE WEEK
West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2
Ebac Northern League Division One
Why has it taken me 466 games and 219 other new grounds to finally visit West Auckland Town? I have no idea, but I have finally managed it.
As a kid I watched ‘A Captain’s Tale’ in awe, and even in those pre-Sky Sports days I could not believe that I didn’t already know about the original ‘World Cup Winners’. In fact, in the morning I was thinking about the fact non-league football in this country boasts West’s 2 World Cups, the oldest club in the world, oldest ground in the world, the first club to beat Real Madrid in Spain, a team that played in front of over 100,000 in India and more , yet few know about these exploits. However, the kids of today will know about the massively over-rated likes of Beckham and his peers who have done bugger all in the game. Ridiculous.
The drive over the to the North East saw the weather improve as we got nearer to our destination, not by much but it did, the highlight of the driver being Mr Wilks unable to find his way out of Hartshead Moor Services. Priceless. Final pit stop was at Bedale’s Chippy in St Helens Auckland. Decent.
The Wanted Stadium has its own driveway at the end of which you are met by the turnstiles, entering in the North East corner, the side to your left is open standing as are both ends, though the northern end where you enter has a raised platform too. Over on the Western Side you have the sponsors lounge, tea bar, clubhouse, covered standing area and Main Stand. I was a bit surprised that the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy was not on show, I can only presume it is in the sponsors lounge. Well the replica of it is.
Coming into the game, the Northern League Division One is very much a 2 horse race. Morpeth Town were nearly 20 points clear at the top, however, Marske United lie a further 2 points behind but have 7 games in hand. West are part of the bunch chasing for third. This was a big match.
After an understandable cagey opening West went close with a header by Parker from a corner, Town started to control the game a bit more and as we past the quarter of an hour mark they started to create. A free-kick on the right hit the wall.
Header. Another free-kick a minute or two later on the right was played in and centre-half Coppen swooped to had the visitors into the lead. It was deserved, and at that point it looked like it was going to be a fairly one-sided afternoon. Especially when shortly afterwards Henderson went through and narrowly missed after lobbing McHugh in the home goal.
Opportunistic. As we approached the 30 minutes mark West were level. Though if we had VAR they wouldn’t have been. Good harrying high up the pitch won the ball for the hosts, the ball was played to Fisher, who was offside, missed by an out of position assistant, the striker took full advantage of the opportunity he had been given, drew Lowson in the Morpeth goal, rounded him and equalised with ease.
Bullet header. Five minutes later West took the lead, a corner on the right, fired in by playmaker Mitchell was met at pace by defender Parker, his header flew into the back of the net. Lowson had no chance. 2-1 to West.
Far post header. Half-time was approaching when the visitors equalised. Another free-kick on the right, this one played into the far post and Coppen got his second, McHugh rooted to the spot, what a cracking game this had turned into.
Missed. After an earlier investigation by Mr Wilks into purchasing a club badge we made our way around to the tea bar for the next clue, as we walked along the North End, West scored. Purewal got it. No idea how as I wasn’t watching. I missed the winner. Least it wasn’t as bad as Mr Wilks who missed the opener too.
H-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2
Badge got, they have them behind the bar. Good game of treasure hunt.
We moved onto the second half.
The league leaders pushed forward. Had a number of chances. Missed some. McHugh saved some. Others were blocked. How they didn’t score I don’t know.
At the other end, West broke away often enough, quite how they also didn’t score I don’t know.
After 5 goals in the opening 45 minutes, how both teams managed a goalless second half, I do not know.
Great entertainment though.
F-T. West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2
Also stopped at Hartshead Moor services on our way home, a lot easier to exit on the westbound side.
Over the tops to Yorkshire on Tuesday and another new ground, number 219, Thackley. Worksop Town were the visitors.
We attempted to pay another visit to Bolton Square Traditional Fish & Chips, which was unfortunately closed, so back down Bolton Road to Peel Park Fisheries. It was ok, but both Mr Wilks and myself preferred our original choice.
Onto the match and if like us you were in the first half, stood at the top end, then you watched all the action from a long way. The first half belonged to Town and they duly took a 2 goal led with 2 goals in 2 minutes 1/2 way through the opening half. Baird and Trench were the scorers, both from close range.
Early in the second half, a game changing tackle, Town’s Trench bringing down Ngoe without attempting to play the ball. Penalty and a red card correctly given. Garrod dispatched, Thackley revitalised. The hosts huffed and puffed, built up the pressure and finally breached the Worksop defence again in added on time. Garrod the scorer again, this following a scramble. Good game.
Wednesday was supposed to be another game day, but the weather put paid to that.
Tue: Thackley 2 Worksop Town 2
Sat: West Auckland Town 3 Morpeth Town 2
Games since a 0-0: 77
Milestone: 220th ground visited. West Auckland Town.
Performance of the Week: Mr Wilks. His performance at Hartshead eastbound services was quite unbelievable.
Random Fact: The earliest I have ever got to 70 games in a season. By 8 days.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers