Back in the days before it had pebble-dash dugouts and a high wooden fence, a significant part of my childhood was spent kicking a ball around Jarrow FC's pitch. Or playing cricket in the corner of it. Or smacking a golf ball from one end of the field to the other. As a kid, my bedroom window had a view of two corner flags, and I used to walk across the penalty area on my way to school. I'm sure I must have seen a game there at some point before tonight, though I can't recall ever doing so. Whichever way you look at it though, Perth Green Community Association (walking distance from my house: three minutes) is one of the hundred and twenty-six grounds I've now watched football at.
Set up in 1980 after the closure of Perth Green School, Jarrow FC have played in the Wearside League for as long as I can remember, but a Sunderland Shipowners' Cup win aside, they've been a lot less successful than one of their predecessor clubs, Jarrow AFC, who reached the first round of the FA Cup three times, losing 2-1 to Everton at Goodison Park in 1899, 2-0 at home to Millwall (in front of an 8,000 crowd!) a year later and 1-0 to Crewe in 1931. Sadly, AFC folded after the closure of Jarrow's shipyards and the requisitioning of their Campbell Park Ground by the 87th Anti-Aircraft Regiment before the outbreak of World War II.
This evening's visitors were New Marske FC, who'd started the season with a bang: four wins in a row and sixteen goals scored. The game kicked-off in front of a crowd of thirty-seven, including the driver of an Aqualisa Shower van, two kids who turned up on mountain bikes and a man out walking his dog. Marske started brighter but it was Jarrow who took the lead with a floated cross from the left. "Keeper's," came the shout, with all the horribly misplaced optimism of James Corden's gag writer. "No, no, no," muttered the away bench as the ball sailed over his despairing arms and plopped straight onto the head of the grateful forward.
The home team doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half after a game of "You first", "No, honestly, after you" between a Jarrow attacker and the Marske central defence ended with a daisy-cutter into the far corner of the net. Both sides hit the crossbar, but with the visitors displaying as many new ideas as the head of ITV Drama it was Jarrow who hit the third as the last rays of sunlight disappeared over the A19. If this had been a game of cricket, three-quarters of the Marske team would have gladly taken the offer of bad light.
Date: 25th August 2010