Edit Blog Post
Published: February 15th 2016
Stockton High Street holds little to keep my attention. It used to be a thriving shopping street. I can recall being dragged there as a kid. We would go there as an alternative to Middlesbrough and would alight at Thornaby Railway Station, before walking across the river. I can also vividly remember standing on a bollard to see the Queen on her Silver Jubilee tour of Britain in 1977. I would wait another 40 years before my path crossed again with HRH. We saw somebody else we thought was famous that day, but none of my school friends could put their finger on who he was - he just looked familiar. It was somebody off the tele, we speculated? It turned out to be the school photographer! Stockton used to be a night owls destination - all those bands at the Club Fiesta were before our time though and I note that The Mall night club is now a factory flooring warehouse. Britain's best disco 1989...... true, honest - I read it in the Gazette - closed it's doors in 2013. The 1600 capacity venue was no longer required by Teesside. I headed to the bank. The purpose of my visit
could wait no longer and I wandered round the corner to Yarm Street into the Last Record Shop on Teesside.
Sound It Out Records. An Alladdin's Cave of all things vinyl - new and old - with a staff who have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things music. The shop has something for everyone and unlike many of second hand vinyl emporiums that have sprung up with the renaissance of the product, it is all neatly filed, accessible and at a tempting price. It could be records you couldn't afford in the day, stuff you weren't sure about because your mates didn't give it credibility or the plain obscure you didn't know existed. I seldom leave empty handed. It takes me back to trips into Alan Fearnley Records in the early 80s. Happy Days!
The retail therapy over, I decided to take in a match. There was excitement down the road at Awesome Park. The Boro had done something for which they are not noted - invest heavily in the transfer window in pursuit of the Premier League. The North East loves a centre forward. A big crowd was expected. It would not be my cup of tea. Alas,
the expensive new striker was left to acquaint himself with a bench for an hour or so, much to the disgust of half the crowd and those who call the BBC Radio Tees Phone-In thereafter. The slogan last year was "We Believe in Aitor"
. Today, the belief had evaporated - to be replaced by "stubborn.....fixed on his one upfront system........too much like Mourinho"
. The general consensus of opinion was there was "no point buying a Ferrari and then leaving it in the garage in favour of driving the Vauxhall Nova".
Indeed! I headed to Teesdale Park instead, unaware of the disappointment that would unfold down the road. The route to Teesdale Park is a long and winding road. A long and winding road full of pot holes to be exact. I opted to leave the car on the tarmac of Acklam Road and set off to cover the few hundred yards. The entrance off Acklam Road was littered with garden furniture. A chair covered in a high vis jacket highlighted the reason. "Private Parking"
. Was this aimed at random Joe Public or the likes of me, who would choose to leave a vehicle at the entrance? It had been chucking
Thornaby FC 1 Northallerton Town 3
............ it wasn't the weather for the outdoor seating
it down and the potholes were filled with water. The first car that passed me slowed down respectfully. The second didn't! The muddy water splattered my trousers. Great. I wasn't feeling the love for Thornaby FC at this point. I followed person responsible through the turnstiles, but thought better of saying anything. He was clearly in the know and part of the fabric. It had cost me £5 so far, to get mucky trousers.
Thornaby FC were formed in 1980, as the footballing branch of Stockton Cricket Club. The ground at Teesdale Park is the former sporting section of Head Wrightson - another giant of Teesside heavy industry that has disappeared from existence. The ground - once the reason for Thornaby's relegation for not being up to Northern League standards - looked neat and tidy. The playing surface was heavy, but given recent weather looked in good condition. As the rain fell, I sought shelter in the Peter Morris Stand - a small seated area decorated in the club colours. A solitary spectator stood behind the goal, under the cover of what appeared to a number of market stalls. The dozen or so Northallerton fans would later take up
residence for the 1st half with their flag. The other car park end featured an uncovered bank of blue and red seats. The ultimate piece of football architecture sat on the half way line opposite the Morris Stand - a surplus to requirements bus shelter, complete with Stockton Borough Council No Smoking sticker and genuine graffiti scratched into the perspex. It must be particularly gratifying for those youths to know that their efforts to destroy a public amenity remain imortalised in a non-league football ground. The conisseurs of football stand design might like to know that this particular model emanates from Bus Shelter (Wales). As the Ministry of Bus Stops never sleeps, I wandered round for further inspection and took up residence for the initial 45 minutes.
The opening encounters were fairly scrappy. Both sides failed to create much and the lack of any significant crowd numbers magnified the language in use by some of the home players. It was as blue as their strip and colour scheme of the ground. The linesman was on the receiving end of most of it. He remained undeterred and continued to correctly raise his flag, as the Thornaby forwards were caught offside.
A cracking top corner strike broke the deadlock and the frustration of all connected with Thornaby was compounded after a mix up with their Polish keeper and defender left the Northallerton forward with a simple job to double the lead. It was fair to say Thornaby had lost focus at this point, believing the world was against them.
I retreated into the bar at half time to check on other results. It was well supported and warm. The eyes were all on Jeff Stelling booming out his own unique take on the afternoon developments on Sky Sports News. The walls were decorated with football scarves - domestic and foreign. I noted Galatasaray, Stuttgart, Anderlecht and Palermo amongst others. The club had thoughtfully created a seating area outside the bar, but it wasn't really the weather for it. The Northallerton fans swapped ends of the second 45 minutes and as the rain had stopped, I vacated my bus shelter, in favour of an alternative view. Thornaby gave the fightback a good go with a change of formation. Despite the constant pressure, Northallerton's speedy strikers picked them off on the break to make it 3 - 0. The Thornaby consolation strike
Thornaby FC 1 Northallerton Town 3
............there is always a post in the way!
was too little, too late. I set off back towards the main road and avoided further splash damage to the trousers. Appendix 1 Ebac Northern League Division 2 Saturday 6 February 2016 Venue: Teesdale Park, Acklam Road, Thornaby Thornaby FC 1 - 3 Northallerton Town
Adrian Beblowski, Richard Walker, Matthew Robinson, Lee Bythway, Michael Joseph, Kieran Edwards, Rocky Andrews, Stephen Morrison, Sonny Andrews, Nathan Steel, Craig Ruddy. Subs:
Gary Mitchell, Theo Furness & Stephen Butterworth Northallerton Town:
Matthew Calvert, James Muir, Mark Hemmingway, Josh Keogh, Josh Knox, Daniel Jones, Andrew Ramsbottom, Stuart Owens, Damon Reaks, Aaron Ramsbottom, Daniel McClachlan
#Groundhopping/Northern Leaguel: Thornaby FC v Northallerton Town
Tot: 2.453s; Tpl: 0.088s; cc: 14; qc: 32; dbt: 0.0326s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb