Thursday, 22 July 2010

Ground 121: Coach Lane Sports Ground

As I've never been much good at actually playing football, the closest I came to representing Northumbria University while studying there was occasionally sitting near someone in lectures who turned out in midfield for the second team. Not that they had much of a side back then. Joining the Northern Alliance as recently as 1999, it took Northumbria University FC seven years and a change of name to the Olympian-sounding Team Northumbria before they were promoted to the second division of the Northern League, where they've stayed ever since.

Just so you know.

Arriving a few minutes before the advertised seven o'clock kick-off time, we found a cracked sign, an open gate and both teams in the middle of their pre-match warm-up. "Game kicks off at half past," I overheard someone say, and retreated back to the warmth of the car. The crowd had swelled to thirty by the time we came back, taking up our seats in the front row of the tiny main stand for what turned out to be a lively first half. Both sides tried to play the ball along the grass (which wasn't too hard given the length of it), and there were chances at both ends, Northumbria taking the lead with "the weakest shot ever" before the visitors, newly-promoted Jarrow Roofing, equalised from a close range header that was more Sneijder than Shearer.

The main stand and a burger van (scale 1:1).

After a frenzy of half-time substitutions, the second half was much scrappier than the first, though Northumbria did manage a late (semi-disputed) winning goal. What entertainment I got came from the voices around me: "Don't foul! Don't foul!", "Build again from the back", "I'm pig sick of garlic bread", "Look where you're kicking it Andy, will you?", "Linesman, is this the second half?"

Two minutes left: the tension gets unbearable.

Admission: Free
Date: July 22nd 2010

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