Edit Blog Post
Published: January 6th 2019
The car was pointing north. As usual. We turned off the A1 on to the A168 and "home". It is a familiar stretch. I have often switched radio stations by this point to BBC Radio Tees. There is a sense of familiarity to the news and the accents delivering it. "If you're talking about it. We're talking about it". However, tonight I had left it tuned into a national station. Directly on cue as I make the turn off, a seasonal tune plays. We had been "top to toe in tailbacks' for most of the journey, but we are now almost on the "freeway'. Driving home for Christmas with a thousand memories. There are other Christmas records, but this one is the one that instantly gets anybody who hails from the hinterland of Teesside all nostalgic. Mr Rea himself does very nicely out of it too. I have just read an article about the royalty earnings from Christmas singles and there are suggestions that the track takes in upwards of £100,000 every year. It might not be up there with Slade and Wham, but not bad for a tune that only made a highest position in the charts of number 50
something in the year of release.
We are arriving early this year. We are at another funeral. They are all too common at the moment. I only ever seem to meet most of my cousins at these events. It is a gloomy, overcast day as we head down to Whitby. The service is at St Mary's on the East Cliff. I have been here many times, but never for an actual church service. My Grandad's brothers are inscribed on the War Memorial within - their Merchant Navy service came to an end mid-Atlantic. The church is packed. A line of cars then moves off down Green Lane and on to the cemetery at Larpool Lane. I would return to town a couple of times over the festive period.
I wasn't going to write anything over Christmas - partially because this wasn't a journey as such and partially because I had figured that I had previously exhausted the subject of Whitby or indeed, the North East Premier Seaside Resort in other published blogs. The unseasonably mild temperatures has seen the latter packed with visitors in the last few days. The numbers of chalets continues to grow on the bottom
prom. A spot of sea air and a brisk walk designed to lose those Turkey pounds is usually left in tatters, as the smell of fresh fish and chips forced submission to extra calories. There were massive queues extending from all three eating options with the premium prize being the window seats in the restaurant upstairs at Seaview. All the other businesses were also making hay, whilst the sun was shining. The only unhappy section of the visiting public on the seafront would be the surfers. The waves had been immense when we were up in early December, but the sea was as flat as a pancake throughout most of the festive period. As ever, I have camera on hand and concluded that even if one or two people take inspiration from a solitary photograph it would be perhaps be worthwhile effort. I meet the Man from Montreal by chance. He was back in town via London, recovering from the trauma of seeing the Awesome Park gang stutter in their promotion quest in West London. The slump would continue on Boxing Day. He was intrigued to see the Cliff Lift in operation during the winter months, having previously advised potential
Canadian visitors that their only opportunity to see it in action would be in summer. I noted that the new attendants were attired as Peaky Blinders. Meanwhile up the bank in the town, the micro pub scene has expanded to include the Pillar Box. It would have been rude not to give it a try.
We parked up on the East side in Whitby, so the Outlaw could walk on flat ground. The introduction of a new Park and Ride on the end of the "moor" road as part of an attempt to reduce the numbers of cars in town has seen a hike in car parking charges, but these have little impact on the grey pound. The Outlaw happily forks out £4 for 3 hours and she and the Other Half wandered off to undertake some retail therapy. I took a stroll down Church Street, where those spending their Christmas break have yet to be joined by an influx of daytrippers. I cut up through Blackburns Yard and started the climb towards the Abbey and St Marys Church. I often take this route rather than the 199 steps, partially because it is relatively unknown and therefore
much quieter. There were no manic crowds today, as it was in that lull between Christmas and the arrival of many to spend New Year. I paused to look back over the harbour from East Abbey Terrace. The weather was mild and the sun was shining. It was in stark contrast to the miserable, overcast day last week, when I was in the church for the funeral. I walked up Church Lane, where a horse unsuccessfully pleaded for any treats that might be coming his way. It was all quiet in the Abbey and the Abbey Brewery behind had not yet opened up for the day. St Marys Church is something of an iconic setting, perched high on the East Cliff. The Grade 1 listed structure still contains the boxed pews and was the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. It draws visitors throughout the year, but is particularly favoured by the professional photographers during the Whitby Goth weekend events. The Church also features in the Simply Red video, Holding Back The Years. Mick and the boys were somehow allowed to engage in a spot of cricket in the graveyard as part of the sequence. I descended to Henrietta Street
and walked along to Fortunes kippers. A visitor turned and asked, “do we all want kippers for breakfast?”. The question was intended for his group, who were straggling and I readily accepted. “What time is it served?”, I queried. He didn’t see the funny side, although his wife sniggered quietly in the background.
Over on the West Cliff side, Captain Cook was still looking out to sea by the "Whalebones". One of the local gulls, has decorated his forehead. The queue was forming outside the Magpie. It has suffered a fire and hasn’t been back on the scene that long. A much larger queue was outside Trenchers, which has probably scooped some form of award. Meanwhile over the road, the new kid on the block seemed quiet. The Star on the Harbour is owned by the same Michelin Star group that has the Star at Harome. The chef / owner is apparently a Whitby man. It is fair to say with fish and chips, you pays your money and takes your choice. Whitby has no shortage of choice. We always gravitate to Sarahs on the East Side, which I think offers far more value in
ambient surroundings. The ever present wildlife in the form of the seagull population are not fussy. They occupy any vantage point in search of the easy meal. Salt and vinegar optional.
The weather had been kind over the festive period, so I had been able to take in my share of football unhindered by the fear of frost or waterlogging. I made my first visit of the new season to the Bi-Fold Doors Stadium, otherwise known as Green Lane and the home of Redcar Athletic. A new grand title there might be, but otherwise there was no significant improvement in facilities other than a small seated stand and a new turnstile. The changes were necessary to allow the step up to Northern League 2, which has seen a vast increase in attendances as you would expect in the town the size of Redcar. The team were holding their own, but visiting Easington Colliery must have wondered how they came away with nothing from this encounter. Boxing Day provided a multitude of options. Alas, I arguably chose the wrong one in the Billingham El Classico. A large crowd of 460 assembled for the traditional 11 am morning kick
off with the Billingham Synthonia fans taking advantage the actually watching their team now that their Central Avenue home has been abandoned. I took a casual walk across to see that the vandals had been active. It is hard to see how the team named after a chemical product – Synthetic Ammonia – can ever return, now that all connections have been lost with the huge ICI plant with which they were once associated. I crossed the railway line to get to Billingham Town’s Bedford Terrace ground. Billingham Town are on fire at the top of Northern League 2, whilst Synthonia are best described as a work in progress under new Owner / Benefactor / Manager, Jamie Pollock. Pollock was once the engine room in the midfield of the Awesome Park gang in the Premier League with a brief to give the ball to the more creative members of the team, before moving on to Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers. He was always carrying a bit of timber in his younger days, but his appetite seemed to have got the better of him in recent years. It finished 0-0. One Town fan summed it up, “We did Ok. 9 men
versus 12”. He was sarcastically referring to the 2 sendings off and the perception that the ref was on the side of Synthonia. I moved on to watch Marske United lose heavily to their ex-Northern League foes of Morpeth Town, which featured one of the better overhead kicks you are likely to see at this level of non-League football. I followed that up with a first for me. Ladies football - a hastily arranged friendly between Redcar Town Ladies v Middlesbrough FC Ladies.
This brings me full circle to Whitby again for the much anticipated North Yorkshire Seaside Resort El Classico between Whitby Town and Scarborough Athletic. It was all ticket with a lunch time kick off. The crowd limit had been set at 2,400, split equally between the 2 clubs. Scarborough have suffered a dramatic loss of form recently, so even with their large support only managed to sell 600-700 of their allocation. A number of North Yorkshire's finest were on hand to make sure it didn't get out of hand. The Man from Montreal declined the offer of a ticket. He was still scarred by his experience at Loftus Road. I parked up early and hovered outside
the Turnbull Ground to watch events unfold. Tickets were checked at the perimeter to avoid Scarborough fans getting in the club bar. The Scarborough coach transport arrived and blocked Upgang Lane. One of the drivers launched a rather aggressive, unprovoked verbal attack on a nearby policeman, regarding what they should do about parking up at the end of the game. The policemen seemed taken aback, but decided against adding to his paperwork. A huge crowd by Whitby standards confused the PA man ....as he said I am only used to announcing hundreds here. The personable and very visible Whitby Chairman smiled through the afternoon, hoping all would return for the next game. The match itself was a full blooded local derby, which Whitby thoroughly deserved to win. A couple of flares celebrated the 2nd goal, one of which was promptly dispatched into the garden behind by the Scarborough keeper in a fit of frustration. Scarborough missed a soft late penalty to deny any neutrals a grandstand finish. Appendix 1 Evostik Premier League (North) Whitby Town 2 Scarborough Athletic 0 Date:
Tuesday 1st January 2019 @ 1300 Hours Venue
: Turnbull Ground, Upgang Lane,
Whitby, North Yorkshire. YO21 3HZ Attendance
: 1,318 Scorers
: 1-0 Gell (Whitby Town) 25 Mins, 2-0 Hopson (Whitby Town) Pen 73 Mins Appendix 2 Friendly Redcar Town Ladies Town 2 Middlesbrough FC Ladies 4 Date
: Saturday 29th December 2018 @ 1100 Hours Venue
: Mo Mowlem Memorial Park, Trunk Road, Redcar. North Yorkshire Attendance
: Est 32
Appendix 3 Evostik League (East)
Marske United 1 Morpeth Town 4 Date
: Saturday 26th December 2018 @ 1500 Hours Venue
: GER Stadium, Mount Pleasant, Marske-by-the-Sea. North Yorkshire TS11 7BW Attendance
: 322 Scorers
: 0-1 Henderson (Morpeth Town) 3 Mins, 1-1 Butterworth (Marske United) 15 Mins, 1-2 Henderson (Morpeth Town) 36 Mins, 1-3 Henderson (Morpeth Town) 41 Mins, 1-4 Henderson (Morpeth Town) 73 Mins
Appendix 4 Northern League Division 2
Billingham Town 0 Billingham Synthonia 0 Date
: Saturday 26th December 2018 @ 1100 Hours Venue
: Bedford Terrace. Billingham. TS23 4AE Attendance
: 460 Appendix 5 Northern League Division 2
Redcar Athletic 3 Easington
Colliery 1 Date
: Saturday 22nd December 2018 @ 1500 Hours Venue
: Bi-Fold Doors Stadium, Green Lane, Redcar. North Yorksire. TS10 3RW Attendance
: 141 Scorers
: 1-0 Preston (Redcar Athletic) 2 Mins, 2-0 Preston (Redcar Athletic) Pen 30 Mins, 2-1 Green (Easington Colliery) 37 Mins, 3-1 Redman (Redcar Athletic) 95 Mins
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