Monday, 18 October 2021

Main Lines

With all this NUFC takeover hysteria, there's only one place I want to watch my football; Purvis Park. Happy to be back sampling the best hot dogs in the world and writing home match reports for the website and the programme. Sadly, results haven't been too encouraging so far -:

Newcastle Blue Star: Lost 2-0; Saturday 2nd October

The rain fell incessantly from a slate coloured sky. The wind was bitter and unforgiving. Winter coats and wooly hats had their first public airing. There could be no mistake; autumn had arrived at Purvis Park with a menacing, vengeful intent. Newcastle Blue Star provided as unforgiving a set of opponents as the challenging elements, dismissing Percy Main from the Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl at the first stage.

Expectations had been high in the week leading up to this game against visitors who can boast quality players throughout their squad, ambitions to join the Northern League and a support that dwarfs most clubs in the Northern Alliance. In the end, hopes of Percy Main setting a new ground record attendance were to be dashed; perhaps it was the awful weather or the bafflingly early 1.30pm kick off for a game that would go straight to penalties if scores were level after 90 minutes, but the actual crowd of 175 was a little disappointing.

In the first half, the Villagers had the benefit of the strong breeze coming off the river behind their backs. It acted as an extra barrier to repel any thoughts of attack by a Blue Star side for whom one time FA Vase winner Michael Dixon stood out like a colossus at the back, repelling most efforts by the home side, resulting in Blue Star’s former North Shields keeper Sean McCafferty being somewhat underemployed. Meanwhile, the Main custodian Reece Monaghan was the stand out performer for the home team, showing faultless handling, impeccable anticipation and accurate distribution, as Percy Main continued to probe, in search of a way of breaching the seemingly impregnable black and white defence. The nearest either side came to a breakthrough in the opening period was visiting number 9 Ethan Bewley running through on the left and sending a shot across goal, but agonisingly wide of the far post, meaning the sides went in at the break with a blank score line.

The strength of the wind was demonstrated almost from the kick off in the second period as Percy Main found it nearly impossible to successfully clear their lines, as the ball was caught by the stiff breeze and returned towards the home goal. Conditions dictated that Newcasle Blue Star were able to up the ante and pin the home side back, with thwarted clearances denying Percy Main any chance to rest and regroup. If Michael Dixon had been the outstanding NBS performer in the opening period, the second half belonged to Reece Havelock-Brown, who relentlessly drove forward and was a constant menace to the Percy Main defence. Firstly, he brought the best out of Monaghan, who was at full stretch to tip a curling effort round the post. The resulting corner saw Blue Star captain Steve Little head over when well placed.

Havelock-Brown again came to the fore shortly after, when a delicious curling effort struck the inside of both posts and bounced clear. Sadly, this incredible escape was not to prompt Percy Main into an attacking renaissance; rather, it merely delayed the inevitable. Havelock-Brown broke the deadlock on 67 minutes with as sweet a volley as you’ll see all season. Profiting from an astute knockdown by Bewley, Havelock-Brown struck a glorious first time effort from outside the box that flew past Monaghan before he had a chance to react. It was a truly special goal and Ethan Bewley’s exquisitely placed looping header from a Zach Bewley cross in the 78th minute was almost its equal.

The second goal effectively sealed the tie and Blue Star were able to play out time against a gallant, but ultimately frustrated Percy Main side who had given their all.

Wallington: Lost 1-2; Saturday 9th October

After being comprehensively outplayed by Newcastle Blue Star when exiting the Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl the week before, Percy Main Amateurs put in a massively improved performance at home to Wallington in a Northern Alliance Premier Division game. Sadly for a Villagers side decimated by injuries and unavailability, the result was the same, as a brace of late headers in the 85th and 93rd minutes by Jack Palmer meant the points were claimed by the men from Oakford Park.

The weather blessed us with a warm, still, pleasant, late summer day, unlike the howling wind and driving rain that had besieged us the week before. As a result of such clement conditions, the standard of play was of a higher standard as well, with the game switching from end to end on an immaculate pitch that had drank deeply and beneficially from the torrential storms of the week just ended.

Wallington carved out the game’s first chance after 4 minutes, when a clearance fell to Kris Willis. His volley had meat behind it, but an out of position Reece Monaghan clutched the ball and danger was averted. On 10 minutes, Wallington’s first corner caused mayhem in the home box, with blocked shots and claims for a penalty aplenty. Thankfully the ball was smuggled away, resulting in Main’s Dylan Taylor attempting to lob Aaron Carr in the Wallington goal. Taylor found the elevation but not the accuracy, as the ball dropped just wide of the far post.

This was only a temporary respite for the visitors as on 22 minutes, when Joe Kelly broke the deadlock. Winning the ball in midfield, he surged down the right wing before cutting inside and burying a glorious finish beyond Carr’s despairing dive. Wallington almost responded immediately when a bout of pinball in the box ended with a contested header bouncing off the bar and going over. One final chance of the half saw the visiting number 9 John Paxton bend an effort just wide of the post, allowing The Main to go in at the break a goal to the good.

Paxton was again at the forefront of Wallington efforts after the resumption, turning sharply and firing an effort that Monaghan saved with his legs. Perhaps the key moment in the game came when Kelly’s surging run down the left saw him create space and fire in an effort that Carr managed to palm away. If tat ad one in, a 2-0 lead for the home team would surely have sealed the win, but Wallington drew belief from this let off. Monaghan again came to The Main’s rescue with an astute tip over on 84 minutes, but it was all to no avail when an unmarked Palmer nodded in at the back post from the resulting corner. Just as the Villagers were coming to terms with that blow, Palmer comprehensively broke home hearts with a deft, cushioned header into the corner. Despite a further three minutes of stoppage time, a visibly shattered Percy side were unable to mount any credible attacks. Instead the lads must regroup and go again next Saturday when Prudhoe YFC visit Purvis Park for a Northern Alliance Premier Division encounter. Kick-off is 2.30.

Prudhoe Youth Club FC Seniors: Lost 0-5; Saturday 16th October

Newly-promoted Prudhoe YCFC Seniors have been on something of a roll recently. Straight from the kick off, it was clear why as the visitors from the Tyne Valley tore into Percy Main from the first whistle. The opening goal on 6 minutes, which saw Kieran Russell stoop to nod in a well-worked short corner routine, was just rewards for the level of dominance Prudhoe had exercised to that point. However, the game settled down after this and both sides enjoyed periods of controlled possession.  Indeed, the home side could have equalised on 20 minutes when Dylan Taylor’s delicious cross from the right bypassed the entire Prudhoe defence but eluded the lively Adam Beattie. Unfortunately this came back to bite the Main on 29 minutes, when Luke Banks sprang the Villagers’ offside trap and calmly slotted the ball under the advancing Reece Monaghan.

Prudhoe continued to dominate and Sam Dibb-Fuller, the younger brother of Hebburn’s Ben, so often a thorn in Percy’s side when appearing for Stocksfield, skipped through several challenges and finished with a cushioned effort into the corner. The 3-0 score at half time reflected the quality of play by a determined and skilful Prudhoe side, who didn’t give up after the break. Arron Fletcher thumped a powerful effort off the bar, before turning home a loose ball after Monahan had made a good, diving save from Adam Bell’s shot from distance.

On the hour mark Percy’s Joe Kelly had the home side’s only serious effort of the half, curling a beautiful effort inches wide of the far post. Sadly, the final goal when it came, went the way of the visitors, from the penalty spot. Substitute Craig Fairley was barged over and got up to send Monaghan the wrong way. Well, if a 5-0 home thumping is good enough for Claudio Ranieri, then it’s good enough for Percy Main I suppose.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Pigs. Pigs. Pigs. Pigs. Pigs. Pigs. Pigs.


It’s no great secret that I hate the Police. I have done all my life. I don’t I knew a single bloke I grew up with in Felling who didn’t despise them. Frankly, there’s been little change to my opinions over the years, especially in the last 10 years when I’ve come to learn that Northumbria Police aren’t just evil, but corrupt as well. Initially, the Filth’s obsequious compliance when offered an opportunity to collectively tongue the corn holes of repeat, vexatious informants Robin Fisher and Elaine Cordes-Gray-O’Connell was bad enough. It became worse when serving Officer PC Kevin Doyle began a campaign of harassment against me, via the illegal but unchecked use of the force national computer and a whispering campaign that had me barred from the place I love best.

Obviously I complained about Doyle, but no avail. The institutionally corrupt internal investigations procedure, as ministered by Northumbria’s “Professional Standards” (don’t laugh) Department always finds in favour of the flatfoots and that goes back to Liddle Towers in 1975. Despite incontrovertible evidence to show the veracity of my allegations, Doyle and the clowns in charge of the “investigation” got off scot free, even after I’d taken it to the mealy-mouthed cautious collaborators at the IOPC. Not only did this grotesque abuse of police powers go unchecked, but a criminal, physical assault on me in March this year saw the Officer supposedly in charge, manipulate the CCTV to the extent that she threatened me, the victim, with assault. It wouldn’t be the last time Northumbria Police illegally tampered with CCTV footage on my account either.

There is one other case to discuss, and believe me we’re just getting started with the Misconduct in a Public Office involving Winton’s Peelers.  Last New Year’s Eve, about 3pm in the afternoon, I was attacked and harangued outside the Co-Op on Front Street by a pair of vicious thugs in uniform; 2242 Duffy and 8020 Oliver. Obviously I complained about this, but the corrupt weasel who was supposed to investigate this, 7720 Seymour, simply brushed it under the carpet. So I took this to the IOPC in early May, but with little hope of success. Imagine my reaction when I received this on September 24…

Dear Mr Cusack,

I have concluded that the outcome of the complaints procedure by Northumbria Police was not reasonable and proportionate; therefore, your appeal is upheld in relation to the first part of your complaint.

The specific reasoning behind my adjudication is based squarely on the fact the police did not supply the Body Worn Video (BWV) or the CCTV from outside the police station that the investigator relied upon in order to answer your complaint. I asked the police investigator to explain what had happened. Inspector Seymour stated that she was unfamiliar with the BWV viewing system and accidentally deleted them, though she thought she had archived them. With regards to the CCTV she wrongly assumed that in viewing it with the operator and telling them it was needed for a complaint it would be saved. Apparently, it was not. Both of these were key pieces of evidence in investigating your complaints and are no longer available. Your lack of trust in the police has no doubt been compounded by Inspector Seymour’s actions as the justified suspicions raised in your review regarding the deletion of evidence by the person investing your complaints have been realised. I have contacted the Head of the Professional Standards Department in relation to this, which I will discuss further.

You have alleged that it was the way the officers spoke to you compared to how they spoke with the Co-op staff and the words they used that made you feel discriminated against. The officers have denied the allegations and the police investigator has used the BWV and CCTV to corroborate their accounts.  Crucially, there is no evidence within the background papers provided by the police that the investigator has considered any previous complaints of a similar nature against either officer, as per the IOPC’s guidelines in handling complaints of discrimination. For this reason I have given serious consideration to sending this complaint back to be reinvestigated. However, in this case I do not believe it would useful to do so; the reason being the paucity of any further evidence that could be gathered. The Co-op staff could be spoken to, but due to the passage of time it is unlikely they will remember the particulars of the conversation between you and the police.  In complaints of discrimination we would also usually ask for comparator data. However, these are more useful in stop and search situations.

As the key evidence in determining how the officers spoke to you, and others and the content of their conversations with you has been lost, and the CCTV showing whether or not officers gave you the middle finger has been lost, I am left with two differing versions of events and no real corroborative evidence in favour of either. I cannot therefore determine whether they did or did not treat you differently or give you the middle finger. I cannot give you any real outcome to this complaint which is frustrating for you and no doubt a relief for the officers involved. The force has found the service level to be acceptable. However, I cannot agree with that determination due to the lack of evidence and the way the evidence available has been handled. I cannot agree that the outcome was reasonable and proportionate as I cannot access the same evidence as the police investigator. Your appeal is therefore upheld in relation to this complaint.

As a result I will be instructing the force to issue you an apology for the way the investigation was mishandled, thus hampering my deliberations.

Powerful stuff eh? Needless to say the Filth’s mealy mouthed; grudging apology went straight in the recycling. In fact it disgusted me so much, I made another complaint -:

On 31st December 2020, I suffered aggressive, intimidating and disrespectful conduct from PC Duffy and PC Oliver outside Tynemouth Co-Op. After making a formal complaint, Inspector Seymour was appointed as investigating officer. Her eventual response was a complete whitewash and failed to address any of the issues I was upset about. I appealed to the IOPC who have upheld my complaint about Inspector Seymour. They instructed Northumbria Police to apologise. However, I do not regard this drivel as sufficient to address Inspector Seymour's conduct. She deleted the body worn footage of PC Duffy and PC Oliver, as well as failing to secure the CCTV footage from North Shields Police Station, making it impossible for the IOPC to adequately investigate my appeal. My contention is that Inspector Seymour, in either deliberately or accidentally losing this footage, could be construed at worst as a deliberate act of sabotage intended to exonerate PC Duffy and PC Oliver, whose previous complaints she improperly did not consider as part of her investigation, or a level of incompetence that proves her utterly unfit to hold the level of responsibility she currently has. As aresult, I feel Inspector Seymour should be dismissed from Northumbria Police, prosecuted for Misconduct in a Public Office and that I should be awarded compensation for Northumbria Police's responsibility in allowing such corrupt practises to happen.

You’ll not be surprised to learn that Babylon didn’t agree with me and so I received this offensive pile of pig shit, entitled Final Response… Final Solution more like.

I have made some enquiries following the receipt of your complaint to help me gain a better understanding and ensure a reasonable and proportionate outcome is reached. I have specifically reviewed your previous complaint CO/10/21 and the letter sent regarding this, the IOPC response to the review that you submitted and I have reviewed your correspondence in relation to the allegation. I believe it is reasonable and proportionate to take no further action in respect of your complaint. Your previous complaint was comprehensively reviewed by the IOPC. The determination of the IOPC was that an apology was to be sent to you on behalf of Northumbria Police, which I am satisfied has been done and Inspector Seymour was to be reminded of the IOPC recommendations for investigations of allegations of discrimination. I am satisfied that this has been completed. I can confirm that neither officer subject of complaint CO/10/21 have had previous allegations of discrimination made against them.

Please note; Inspector Seymour did not deliberately delete footage. The officer believed that the footage had been archived; however it had not, so the footage was automatically removed from the system after a period of time, in line with data protection rules. This was, as explained, due to her unfamiliarity with the system used to retain footage. This element was addressed in the outcome letter to you from the IOPC. There is no further right to review the IOPC findings in to your complaint. This allegation has been made solely due to your dissatisfaction with the outcomes and recommendations made in the response provided to you by the IOPC.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with Northumbria Police, as your experience and view point is extremely important to us.

Inspector 7436 Waller(Force Assessor)

So that’s it then? No further right of appeal, while the corrupt Seymour who deliberately deleted evidence to ensure Duffy and Oliver got away with it, also gets away with it. Corrupt, self-serving, evil scum. No wonder everyone despises the Filth.


Thursday, 7 October 2021

999 Emergency

 I am 100% against the Saudi funded takeover of Newcastle United on moral grounds -:

Currently, we are in the midst of a break for autumn Internationals or, as Steve Algarve-Bruce calls it, his annual holidays. At the time of writing, the bit of Newcastle United we all care about, namely the first XI, are ticking along nicely, in the manner of Ronnie Drew’s famed couple of sticks of gelignite and an auld alarm clock. Since I last had cause to consider the fortunes of our club, they have slipped one place to 19th in the table (that’s second bottom in old money), having accrued 2 points from the 12 available, in between Brucey Breaks. As yet, with the leaves falling from the trees during shortening days of mellow fruitlessness, the Mighty Mags are still to win a game. Such footballing brilliance can only be attributed to the innovative coaching methods of Steve Algarve-Bruce, revitalised and rejuvenated by 10 days of Sagres, chicken piri piri, Super Bock and the odd round of golf.

Contrary to popular belief, football managers aren’t born with the innate ability to bluster, obfuscate and deflect all criticism onto someone else, be they fans, local journalists or previous incumbents. Such effortless bullshitting skills have to be honed over time; in Algarve-Bruce’s case, we are talking 999 games at the helm of a litany of small to medium clubs; not forgetting sunderland of course. That propitious number tells us that we need this preposterous, fraudulent windbag out the Emergency Exit now; providing another untenable Paper Tiger like Chris Wilder doesn’t take his place. Of course, regime change, whereby Newcastle United exist only as an investment project for Saudi Arabia’s billionaire elite, makes it more likely that someone of the stamp of Antonio Conte could come in. Ask Ruud Gullit just how well our last former Chelsea manager did. I digress…

Looking back, the first game after Algarve-Bruce’s flight touched down from Faro last month was Manchester United away. As it was Ronaldo’s second debut, Algarve-Bruce no doubt seized the opportunity to practice his faltering Portuguese on the preening narcissist; Duas cervejas grandes e um enorme tonel de cataplanya, por favor ... Você sabe onde fica o campo de golfe?

I’d had a ludicrous premonition that we’d win 1-0 and Ronaldo would be sent off for spitting at referee Anthony Taylor. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I attempted to factor the whole circus out, by watching Tynemouth away to Whitburn on the last day of the NEPL season, where we won by 6 wickets, though media silence proved impossible on account of the pervasive, invasive nature of the smartphone culture. It’s almost impossible to avoid endless action replays whenever you pick up your phone, so I was able to see an infinite loop of Fernandes scoring every time I answered a message. Frankly, it wasn’t worth trying to talk sense to anyone that day, as the Twitter Wolf Pack, having already ripped the throats out of Rich Oliver, Steve Hastie and Graeme Bell over the previous fortnight, decided to turn on me. I can handle it though, as there’s always real life to distract you.

The next Friday saw the Leeds game. I wasn’t there because I was at the funeral of my childhood friend Paul “Little Wilka” Wilkinson. He’d passed away from throat cancer, aged 56 and, in all the time I knew him, I never heard him express a single opinion about any kind of sport, let alone football and Newcastle United. This was unlike his elder brother Steve, domiciled in Stockport these last 35 years, who retains an obsessive interest in his football team; sunderland…

Wilka had a good send off in The Cluny and, having arrived home somewhat refreshed, I didn’t stir from sofa slumberings until 77 minutes had elapsed. From then to the end of the game, not a great stretch I must admit, NUFC looked the better side. It was only after the game I learned that the first half had been as bad an opening period as Algarve-Bruce has ever mismanaged. The only bright spots being ASM’s equaliser and the complete failure of the ludicrous paper aeroplane protest. And people question NUST’s methods? Although it must be said, they did bottle having a pop at the PL top brass live on telly. Not that any of that matters now…

It appeared during NUFC Civil War that any disinclination by a fan grouping to storm the Barrack Road Winter Palace led to on-line brawling and cyber fisticuffs. The appalling attacks by the Wolf Pack on Steve Wraith, as ever, and poor Holly Blades are both sickening and frankly deserving of a good hiding. However, violence only exists in the real world where, with the weight of his mysterious 3-year contract extension behind him, Dwight Gayle belaboured Graeme Jones in a training ground spat, while Steve Harper’s issue and his flashy gang of public school pugilist pals engaged in a bar room brawl with NUFC’s Under 23 squad. No doubt a dozen of the latter will be out injured until their contracts end next summer. It also shows exactly why the fans are so tetchy when the staff go on like this.

While the January transfer window is viewed with the kind of hysteria Tories have for the start of the hunting season, there is the pertinent matter of our current dire circumstances. Watford, like Southampton in the first tranche of games, should have been the moment our season sputtered into life. I was at Motherwell v Ross County, but read a BBC match report telling of repeated chances squandered in ever more unbelievable circumstances. According to the MotD footage, we truly were Algarve-Bruce’s front foot Mags. This surprised me as I sensed we’d lose 4-0; even more of a bonus, we moved out of the bottom 3 when Leeds lost at home.


And so to the tumultuous last 10 days, when a predictable and pedestrian 2-1 loss away to Wolves was the least important part of a story that has mainly been fought out in the law courts and on line. Suffice to say, Newcastle United, despite suddenly acquiring a level of wealth that would make Croesus jealous, are in a sorry state of affairs, with the legacy of Ashley’s ownership and Algarve-Bruce’s management running the club into the ground. I make no apology for saying that, in my opinion, it’s all about to get a whole lot worse, morally, with the Saudi sportswashing, blood money takeover being waved through, simply because the Saudi authorities (the use of such terms as government, royal family and billionaire businessmen are interchangeable and largely irrelevant in that totalitarian state) have agreed to stop broadcasting Premier League games without a licence. Incredibly, after all months wasted in internecine tit for tat sniping by football oligarchs and in panelled courtrooms, as well as on headed vellum by our learned friends, this is now enough to rip up 130 years of club history and turn Newcastle United into a meaningless plaything of petrodollar billionaires.

Last week, the so-called CAT case was followed over the internet by more than 30,000 Newcastle fans. For the vast majority of on-line observers, their only previous dealings with the legal profession have involved shamefacedly allowing a brief to speak in mitigation over some late night pagger in a taxi queue, or stonewalling Babylon, a duty mouth in shabby pinstripe at their side, with endless utterances of no reply after being nabbed for going equipped. On the day that Wayne Couzens, the vile epitome of state-endorsed toxic masculinity, was sentenced to die in jail for his abhorrent crimes, Newcastle United supporters uncomprehendingly cheered on the cause of a country whose misogynistic ethos isn’t far short of the Metropolitan Police’s. Many of these cretins then incorporated the blood spattered rag that is known as Saudi Arabia’s flag into their Twitter avatar.  The irony of these Tyneside Talibanophiles creating the hashtag #cans to celebrate the marriage of soccer with Sharia Law appears lost on them. When women are banned from the ground, unless attired in a niqab, most of the Fat Kissing Couzens won’t care, because they’re too thick to process just what the hell we’ve let ourselves in for. I’d advise them to learn the meaning of haram in pretty short order.


Make no mistake, and I’ll reaffirm this point until I the day I die, I am vehemently opposed to any Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, because of the human rights abuses associated with that rogue dictatorship. Newcastle United have been bought by a sordid consortium that tracks back to the tyrant Mohamed bin Salman, who approved journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. We are now a club with owners far worse than Mike Ashley and not just because Amanda Staveley looks common when smoking cigarettes in the street. It amazes me that so few fans are bothered about a new set of owners who think it is fine to chop up opposition journalists in foreign embassies with a bone saw.  Then again, this only replicates the attitudes of the Premier League who concern was ultimately about broadcasting and not human rights.

Newcastle United. The club of Colin Veitch and Jackie Milburn. Of Tony Green and Shay Given. Of Fumaca and Pat Heard. This is what we’ve become. This is where our moral compass points. This is an anti-humanitarian emergency. I want my club back.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Ian: Paisley

 I had a wonderful weekend up in Scotland...

My New Year’s Resolution for 2020 was simple; to complete my set of Scottish league grounds by visiting those I’d not yet had the pleasure of. Before COVID-19 closed the world down in March, I’d managed the grand total of 1 new tick: Alloa Athletic. Since then, Brechin City have left the league and been replaced by Kelty Hearts, while my total of unvisited stadia remained resolutely stuck on 20. Having spent the early part of this autumn following the cricket season to its denouement, I had began tentatively planning where to watch my football as the days grew shorter. There is the small matter of my season ticket for Percy Main, who are the side I will predominantly watch, but other than that commitment, I’m free to go where I please, ticking off stubbornly unvisited pitches to complete leagues. Financially, I’m able to commit to a monthly trip away; in August that involved Rotherham 1 Accrington Stanley 2 in the Carabao Cup and October will hopefully involve see me at Barrow versus Orient. September offered me the opportunity of a double header; Motherwell hosting Ross County on Saturday 25th and, courtesy of the generosity of Matty Longstaff, St Mirren against Aberdeen at noon the day after.

Up early on the Saturday morning, pausing briefly to muse on the deleterious effects of unnecessary number of pints I’d had the night before, I made the 09.23 to Carlisle with ease, where the only on board irritation was a loud, fat woman wearing too much make-up, loudly indulging her podgy toddler. At Carlisle, I enjoyed a gorgeous latte then took the Glasgow Central service, along with a smattering of BCF oafs, who were the only ones of the train without masks which are, of course, mandatory on public transport in Jeanette Mugabe’s One Party State. This legal infraction was massively outflanked by the baldy dwarf among their number, who took delight in loudly braying “let the Taliban past,” when an Asian family moved through the train. I simply despair at this world at times.

In Motherwell, searching for Fir Park, I got predictably, hopelessly lost, despite using the Sat Nav app on my phone. Honestly, my inability to follow directions is beyond a joke and getting worse by the week. Every new trip seems to involve me wandering aimlessly down suburban streets or, as in this case, around light industrial trading estates, fruitlessly craning my neck and straining my eyes in the hope of a set of floodlights on the horizon. I’ve only been to Motherwell once previously; in August 2009 to see Teenage Fanclub, less than 3 weeks after my old fella checked out, so my memories are less than precise, although as soon as I came across the Motherwell Civic Theatre, I knew where I was, as Fir Park is only 100 yards further on, meaning even I could find the ground.

And what a ground it is too; almost as good as my two perennial favourites, Easter Road and Valley Parade, Fir Park is a combination of three compact home stands and a gargantuan behemoth of an away end that must look impressive with 4,000 bladdered neds from the gruesome twosome in there. Unfortunately, a smattering of 70 highland laddies down from Dingwall provided rather less of a spectacle: indeed, not even a monocle. Estimating the crowd to be around the 5k mark, I was vindicated to hear the actual turnout was 4,977. The vast majority in the ground, warmed up by the pre-match DJ playing classics such as Another Girl, Another Planet, Ever Fallen in Love (twice!) and The Strokes, were off their seats and cheering wildly in the second minute when ex-Southampton midfielder Callum Slattery pounced on a loose ball just outside the box and lashed a quality strike into the roof of the net. This moment of genius almost made up for the absence of the gloriously named Bevis Mugabe from the Well matchday squad.

One person who was there was notoriously loathsome Scottish Tory leader and MP Douglas Ross, who combines being complicit in the destruction of the country with refereeing duties. He was the fourth official today; I wonder if this gave him time to read the late Deborah Orr’s coruscating memoir Motherwell: A Girlhood? If so, I wonder how he responded to her remembrance of the devastation wrought upon the town by the closure of the Ravenscraig steel plant?  Who am I fooling? Tories don’t have a conscience.

After about 20 minutes of mainly Motherwell possession, Ross County woke up and suddenly seized the initiative. They pushed the home side back, crafted several chances and predictably equalised on 39 minutes when winger Reagan Charles-Cooke saw his hopeful cross into the box drift beyond everyone and nestle into the corner. It was no less than the visitors deserved, and the Staggies’ fans reacted with predictable hysteria.

The day had started clear and bright, but turned cloudy and dank, to the extent that the floodlights were on for the second half. Other than Tony Watt striking the bar with a header, there was nothing other than the superfluous lighting to focus on as a second half utterly devoid of wit or invention drew interminably on. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, a glorious through ball by Rikki Lamie set Watt away and his unerring finish across the keeper ensured the points were claimed by Motherwell. Not the greatest of games, but a great ground and an equally praiseworthy community club, proving that once you leave the Old Firm behind, Scottish football is an absolute joy and endlessly rewarding to visit.

At full time, I counteracted my directional illiteracy by following the crowds. I had hoped to serendipitously come across The Electric Bar, but when I stumbled upon Airbles station, I cut my losses and took the slow train into Glasgow, alighting at Argyll Street for a brief saunter to Central Station and a fast train to Paisley Gilmour Street. Almost amazingly, I found my hotel without trouble, booked in and watched Sportscene. Checking out the hotel bar, I noticed a pump for Estrella Galicia, one of my favourite Spanish beers. Too good to be true; it was off. Instead I had a Belhaven Heavy, which was lifeless and malty, and a microwaved meal of Richmond bangers and reconstituted mash I could have made a better version of myself, before heading out to meet my pal Mick, once described by Donald Pleasance atop of hill outside Hereford as “a fine boy who will go far.” I suppose he has been a resident in Paisley for almost 20 years now, in Gabriel’s Bar, opposite Paisley nick that inspired the late, lamented XS Discharge’s anthem for doomed youth, “Lifted,” released on Groucho Marxist Records on the “Ha! Ha! Funny Polis” EP over 40 years ago ( ). We stayed until closing and, on returning to the hotel, I was asleep within about 10 seconds of entering my room.

Awaking in time to watch the Match of the Day rerun, when Sean Longstaff proved himself my Saturday hero, I got a message during the programme from Matty Longstaff who I nominate as my Sunday hero, telling me to pick up some free tickets from the main reception at St Mirren for that day’s game. I rendezvoused with Mick and his retired greyhound Milburn by Gilmour Stree stationt, keeping a discreet distance from Tandoori Express on Old Sneddon Street, whose forecourt was knee-deep in undigested tikka masala and regurgitated jalfrezi, fringed by fragments of a smashed Buckfast bottle. After returning Milburn to Mick’s house and leaving my bag there as well, we made the 5 minute journey by foot to the SMISA Stadium which, though still almost new, gives off the aura of being loved by supporters in the same way that Fir Park does. There are good clubs all over Scotland; just not on Janefield Street and Edmiston Drive. The ticket office staff were superbly efficient and the tickets, back row in the middle, among a hugely impressive and seemingly female-dominated away following who must have been up before dawn to get here for a noon kick off, gave us a perfect view of a tumultuous game of two halves.

In the opening period, despite St Mirren taking an early lead from a slightly deflected shot, the home side were utterly woeful and lucky to go in only 2-1 down after Scott Brown and Christian Ramirez, the latter with a blinding, diving header, hit back for The Dons. Frankly there was only going to be one winner, until Aberdeen’s Jenks was shown a second yellow for a reckless stamp on a St Mirren defender on 53 minutes. It is fair to say the Aberdeen support are ambivalent as regards the supposed talents of manager Stephen Glass and he singularly failed to cover himself in glory in this instance. The obvious tactical move was to withdraw the largely ineffective Johnny Hayes and introduce Matty, in order to tighten things up by going to a 4-4-1 to protect the lead. Instead he did nothing and within 8 minutes, St Mirren were 3-2 ahead, courtesy of one fine finish and one catastrophically cowardly piece of goalkeeping by Joe Lewis when Curtis Main loomed over him.

After going behind, Aberdeen capitulated; they offered nothing and could easily have conceded again. Luckily for Glass, the vast majority of their support voted with their feet and only a few desultory boos accompanied the final whistle, while understandably jubilant St Mirren players and fans danced jigs of delight. I’d have loved a penny for Matty’s thoughts as, once again, the lad who beat Man Utd, remained an unused sub, which is beyond baffling.

All there was left was a quick stop off to pick up my bag, a wander to the station where it became clear Paisley as no supermarkets in a central location, then efficient trains that brought me to Central for 7.30. It was another brilliant weekend in Scotland and frankly, I can’t wait to travel up again. There are 18 grounds to go; 4 in the West (Airdrie, Ayr, Kilmarnock and Stranraer) and 14 in the East (Aberdeen, Arbroath, Cove, Dundee, Dundee United, East Fife, Elgin, Forfar, Inverness, Kelty, Montrose, Peterhead, St Johnstone and Ross County), so plenty to choose from.




Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Unmade Bedside

I had intended this blog to be an in-depth analysis of the latest works by David Keenan and Alex Neilson, once workmates at the late, lamented Volcanic Tongue music emporium in Glasgow’s West End and bandmates in the most sinister of left field outsider music combos, Tight Meat Duo, but now respectively, one of Scotland’s most lauded contemporary novelists and a genius percussionist, songwriter and bandleader of the impeccable Alex Rex. However, while Alex’s latest album Paradise has hardly been off my turntable since it arrived, David’s 880-page magnum opus Monument Maker remains resolutely unread, looming menacingly from my bedside cabinet as the sole tome on my books to read pile. Despite the adulation heaped on the novel, I am currently finding the sheer size of the project almost intimidating. The actual task of reading the thing is just too big a project to undertake in current circumstances; frankly, I’m almost scared to open the pages, even if I have adored all of Keenan’s previous novels.

I’ve also adored the entire recorded output Alex Neilson has released under his own steam, from the aforementioned Tight Meat Duo via Black Flower, Directing Hand, the incomparable Trembling Bells, several collaborations as a hired rather than directing hand, and now Alex Rex. When I say now, it’s important to recognise Paradise is the fourth album under that moniker. Starting with the almost pastoral Vermilion in 2017, Neilson then cut two sets of scabrous, mournful reflections on emotional yearning and feelings of agonising loss in Otterburn and Andromeda, concerned partly with his own eternally complex personal life, but mainly the tragic death of his younger brother Alastair. When combined with Paradise, which is a much different beast to that dystopian diptych and more of a progression from Vermilion, Neilson’s work with Alex Rex must be seen as a four-part series of punishing blows to the bollocks and the brain by a man whose lyrics, musical practise and benevolent dictatorship at the helm of his own band, mark him as a colossus bestriding the world of contemporary music. The only realistic opposition to Paradise’s eventual coronation as album of the year is Mogwai’s As the Love Continues. While Mogwai paint wordless pictures in loud and quiet sound, Neilson’s hypnotic poetry and lo-fi folk, klezmer and faux Americana tunes beguile and hypnotise the listener with tales that would not be out of place in Dante, accompanied by the kind of love song sensibilities De Sade and Sacher Masoch would have raised a smile to.

There are 13 tracks on Paradise and at least half a dozen of them, often courtesy of the glorious accompaniments provided by Lavinia, Marco and Rory to embellish Alex’s wondrous wordsmithery, are among the best things he’s done. Just listen to the breath-taking scope, range and effect of Scandalise the Birds, What’s Shouted in the Dark (The Dark Shouts Back), Black Peonies, Man is a Villain and Every Wall is a Wailing Wall and you’ll know what I mean. Almost unintentionally, Alex has found himself transformed into a Caledonian Will Oldham meets Nick Cave and Warren Ellis combination, with the words, music and impact having an ineffable element of all three in the mix. Get yourself along to The Cumberland Arms in Byker on October 14th and see what I mean, then make sure you’re at The Punchbowl in Jesmond on October 16th when the sweetness and light of Lavinia Blackwall and Stilton come to town. They could be of the two most interesting nights imaginable this autumn.

I’ve only been to The Punchbowl once to see a gig, and that was in mid-August when locally based Krautrock and Mogwai devotees Parastatic emerged from their lockdown hiatus to perform in the upstairs space known as Bobik’s. It’s a good looking room and Parastatic churned up a great wall of sound that now sees them eschewing the distant, glacial, emotionless Motorik elements of their earlier incarnations for a more intense, profound and humane wall of sound that invites you in, rather than holding you at a distance. I know there are jobs and family to consider, but it really is a shame the three of them don’t look to do more than just create perfect studio sounds; warm, live imperfections are equally lauded in my book. Tread those boards more often and let us buy your product in a tangible fashion please. Indeed, I’ve just had a notification they are back at Bobik’s on November 13th; another one to get yourself along to.

Wandering through town a few weeks back, I got myself a tangible product. I’d popped into RPM for a mooch and a browse; imagine my delight when I found a 10” copy of Cheree by Suicide, in the Record Store Day box. I do recall getting a copy of Dream Baby Dream on 12” the other year from Reflex, but it had totally passed me by that Cheree was part of this year’s list. You know, I know, everyone knows that it is a seminal moment in synthpop history; camp, dramatic and destined to be immortal. Just a shame I had to pay £20 to replace something that cost 75p when it was first released.

The first gig Laura and I got to see after 554 days was the Band of Holy Joy at the simply superb 3 Tanners Bank at the top of the Fish Quay. As yet I’ve not been to The Engine Room, which is diagonally opposite, but that sounds like a quality cellar room to complement this semi-lofty perch; both of which are within 10 minutes’ walk of home, which is another boon. Before this night, Laura and I had last been at a gig when Alex Rex celebrated the release of Andromeda with a gig in Glasgow in February 2020, so it was appropriate that we got to see another fantastic auteur who lives for his art, the sainted Johny Brown in his home environment, or what used to be, as he’s been down in the Smoke for nigh on 40 years now. Still with James Stephen Finn on guitar, Inga on visuals and Pete Smith on keyboards, BOHJ had a new rhythm section of Darryl Hall on drums and Brenno Balbino on bass, plus a whole new list of songs to showcase. Confession time; their last trip up here was in May 2019 and we missed it, having already bought tickets to see BMX Bandits the same night. I fessed up to Johny at the time and he gave us his blessings to be somewhere else. I’m so glad that we caught this show though. The capacity of 3 Tanners Bank might only be 100 or so, but the place was mobbed and, wonderful to see, half the punters were youngsters, really into the music and creating one hell of an atmosphere. Admittedly the rest of the squad were the Ralphies Agro and Knotts Flats Boot Boys circa 1976 vintage, but that’s great to see as well. Johny, as ever, was the Shields street poet we know and love; Rosemary Smith left not a dry eye in the place and The Devil's  Got a Hold on the Land almost literally took the roof off. Simply one of their most energised and vital performances in years. How on earth does this lot still keep drinking from but not draining the fountain of eternal musical youth?

After the gig, as an early birthday present, Laura purchased a copy of Johny and Inga’s Field Notes; an imaginary travelogue of the floating, maritime Radio Joy, cast adrift amidst a queasy swell in the grey North Sea. Partly based on the actual Radio Joy programme on Resonance FM, it consists of a series of invented dialogues between those aboard and even some on shore, creating a fictional narrative of a tense and fearful voyage in an unknown seascape that should feel familiar. Tremendous stuff, showing Johny’s not just a master lyricist, but a prose writer of some skill.

The most recent live show we took in, with Ben and Lucy in tow as well, was the sexy, monstrous return of Arab Strap at the Boiler Shop, touring on the back of this year’s venomous As Days Get Dark reconciliation/reformation album. Without question, the Boiler Shop is the city’s best “big” venue, in terms of layout, atmosphere and ease of access to the facilities (piss and pint, basically). It’s about 70% full, so there’s room to move around at your will and that’s good as Moffat and Middleton are onstage for an hour and three quarters which, bearing in mind the intensity of most of the songs they do, is just on the cusp of entertainment becoming an ordeal. Start with a mammoth rendition of The Turning of Our Bones, the duo (plus band) never give up.

Aidan Moffat veers from deadpan to declamatory when delivering words that can be humiliating one second, then poignant and humorous the next. The amazing thing is, he seems to be in genuinely good form, making an impassioned paean to Newcastle as a city, which is 100% genuine and not for any wish to curry favour.  Of course, Arab Strap as a whole should be far more popular than they already are. With As Days Get Dark, they have snared a whole new generation of fans while the significantly older part of the crowd become delirious during The First Big Weekend. Arab Strap, ancient and modern, deserve the acclaim. They are an essential part of the current music scene.

And so, back to books. Earlier this year, when placing an order for an autographed copy of Monument Maker from Mono (where else?), I also purchased other Keenan products I’d not yet read. Not England’s Hidden Reverse alas, but a stylised deck of Tarot Cards, examined but not utilised thus far, a packet of stickers that remain unopened and two A5 pamphlets Empty Aphrodite: An Encyclopaedia of Fate and To Run Wild In It. The first booklet is described as a radical imagining of the Gods of antiquity as archetypal powers and forces that every human being encounters in their life. The Encyclopaedia is an alphabetic poetic sourcebook that combines magick and inspiration in a series of channelled surrealist portraits of the powers of now. In contrast, the second is allegedly a book about tarot, an experimental novella, a ‘channelled’ text and an extension of ideas first broached in David Keenan’s acclaimed debut novel, This Is Memorial Device. Taking the maxim that the best way to understand the tarot is to create your own, Keenan has reimagined the deck as the unfolding of parallel stories alive with uncanny oracular detail. Apparently, the accompanying deck, while still having an umbilical to the card’s archaic roots, future-visions it as a glam-punk portal deep into the Now and we are entreated to choose your fate with the five random stickers included with this encyclopaedia.

Now I’m not trying to be curmudgeonly here but, while I enjoyed the graphic and grotesque To Run Wild In It, I actually found Empty Aphrodite absolutely incomprehensible, both with and without the tarot pack, never mind the stickers. I’m not opposed to “difficult” literature, as can be seen by my lauding of Houellebecq and BS Johnson, just for starters, on this website last year. However, the whole concept of magick, whatever that means, just leaves me cold and bored. Being brutally honest, This is Memorial Device and For the Good Times are the kind of thing I’m interested in, though I will concede that Xstabeth was a tremendous read, even if it is my least favourite of Keenan’s works. Basically, I need to get on with reading Monument Maker, then come back and say what I think of it, having read the fucking thing.

Finally, the 2021/2022 Utilita Football Yearbook is the 52nd annual edition of what most of us still call Rothmans. As has been the case since the first appearance of this glorious tome in 1970, it is packed with over a thousand pages of facts and information about football from the highest reaches of the international game, down to the very bottom divisions of the arcane and antediluvian Amateur Football Association. I find it impossible to sprawl on the sofa in front of any live game or packaged highlights without consulting this mammoth reference guide, often losing interest in what I’m watching in order to fall down a worm hole of obscure trivia. No wonder I’ve collected a copy of each and every edition over the years. Is it too late in life to start accumulating Wisdens as well?

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Match of the Depraved


Looking back to the end of the last football season, it is quite alarming to note how a sense of false complacency could set in, as regards the ability of football clubs to navigate their way through the worst economic ravages of the pandemic. When the Northern Alliance returned from the enforced spring hiatus, it appeared that only Division 3 lanternes rouges Wooler had called it a day. Indeed, after the AGM, it was announced that the league would run with a full complement of 64 teams across 4 divisions. This prefaced a series of resignations that has left the competition with 58 teams in a 16-15-13-14 split, having seen Morpeth Town Reserves, Red Row, Felling Magpies, Cramlington Town and Shankhouse all throw in the towel in the early part of the season. The malaise didn’t stop there though; the seemingly impregnable football fortress of Whitley Bay has seen both the Sporting Club first team (bottom of D1, having lost all 7 so far) and the A team from Hillheads Park begging for postponements. Quite properly, the Alliance has complied, though that marks a massive change in policy from years ago when the likes of Northbank, Haydon Bridge and Wark weren’t given such a caring response when they flagged up difficulties in fulfilling obligations. A piece of advice; don’t look for a list of all the former Alliance clubs who’ve folded. The list is so storied and extensive; it’ll make you weep.

One club nobody will ever miss is Stocksfield; a vile set of weasels from the less affluent areas of the Tyne Valley. When they were in the top division, they somehow circumvented the Alliance’s alleged line in the sand rule of a solid rail round the pitch, by utilising plastic, orange fencing of the kind employed by the Highways Agency to screen off holes in the road. Rumour has it that calls to John Major’s infamous Cones Hotline were still being redirected to Stocksfield CC bar in 2016. Thankfully, it seems the Alliance are more pragmatic these days. Newcastle Chemfica, now managed by the rising star of North East non-league management, Kenny Malia, following his excellent apprenticeship with Ponteland Reserves, play at Newcastle University’s Longbenton Sports Ground, as do their reserves, following the 4G blitz on Cochrane Park. Unlike Cochrane Park, there is no rail round the pitch at Longbenton, which doesn’t matter for D3 Chemfica Amateurs, but should be addressed for the first team. I called in to see them get the better of Winlaton Community, who don’t have a rail either at their home of Vulcans Rubgy (sic) Club, by a single goal in a tense, tight game that finished in almost complete darkness, partly as a result of local celebrity ref Peter Osgood trying, as ever, to make the game all about him by waltzing in late and giving a series of lectures that would have outlasted both the Gettysburg Address and the Sermon on the Mount when dishing out unnecessary yellow cards.

At least that game saw a goal; when I took in the first half of Whitburn & Cleadon v Bedlington during the innings break of Tynemouth’s 6 wicket triumph over Whitburn at the nearby Village Ground, I saw both sides carve out numerous opportunities, but fail to take them. Admittedly, both keepers acquitted themselves pretty well, but when I left at half time with the game scoreless, I was pretty sure that would be how it ended, which it did. Ironically, I had no such thoughts when Whitley Bay A and Percy Main went in at the break nils apiece. It was my first time of seeing the new and improved Villagers in action and so impressed was I, that I’ve decided to sponsor their Northumberland FA Benevolent Bowl tie with Blue Star and their teeming hordes on the first Saturday of October. The Hillheads game was the second classic I’ve seen this season, after Whickham v Consett, as I mentioned in the report I submitted to the PMA website

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 Percy Main Amateurs deservedly took all 3 points from a rip-roaring, end-to-end, thrill fest against Whitley Bay on Wednesday night. The impressive attendance, including a high percentage of Main fans, were treated to a feast of penetrative attacking play by the visitors, whose front three of Taylor, Rowan and Devine tortured the beleaguered Bay back four for most of the game. Indeed, the final score of 1-2 in PMA’s favour was no reflection on the number or percentage share of chances created. Frankly, if The Main had doubled their goal tally, it would have been a more realistic representation of a simply scintillating second half.

 In truth, the game began with Bay in the ascendancy. With less than 60 seconds on the clock, Zack Fisher shaved the post for the home side, though Rowan came close to giving the visitors the lead on 13 minutes when his shot was deflected a fraction wide. Such excitement was out of character for the first thirty minutes, which passed in a subdued fashion. However, proceedings sprang to life when Reece Monaghan in the Percy Main goal had to be alert enough to clutch a deflected McMullen effort. Main roared back with Devine fizzing an effort just over the bar, then Kelly was thwarted by a superb last ditch tackle as he bore down on goal. Monaghan made sure the sides went in level when acrobatically tipping an effort from distance round the post.

 If the first half had been enjoyable, the second was little short of a classic as Main remained on the front foot, peppering the Whitley goal with Adam Beattie’s header the closest effort until undisputed Man of the Match Rowan opened the scoring with a deft chip from the right edge of the Bay penalty area on the hour mark. Straight from the kick off it was 2-0 when Beattie executed a perfect low drive to round off a superb counter attack by The Main. From this point it could have been any score, with several chances falling to the Main front men, but opportunities came and went, the score remaining 2-0. Percy Main could have feared the worst when Collins bundled the ball home to halve the deficit with 6 minutes remaining, but the brave Villagers held steadfast and firm for an excellent win that was a superb advert for Northern Alliance football.

 Saturday 18th September still had a few cricket games worth watching, such as the NEPL promotion play off, where Seaham Park saw off Consett at Shotley Bridge. However, I was focussed on completing my Northern Alliance set with a trip to Bedlington United v Blyth Town Under 23s. Of course, a cursory check of the Alliance website on Saturday morning revealed the news that AFC Newbiggin are now playing at People’s Park in Ashington, requiring a trip up there in the future. My rules are that the ground rather than the club has primacy; thus, Ponteland United Reserves leaving Druid Park and Fawdon moving in makes no difference to me, as I’ve been to that ground before. Same principle applies to West Jesmond moving to West Moor, where I once saw Blyth Town win the title over Killingworth. All things considered, I’d still never visited Blyth Sporting Club at the High School, which is where Bedlington United, new to the Alliance this season, hang their hats.

The joys of public transport saw me make agonisingly slow progress on the X8 from Quorum Business Park Entrance to the Cowpen end of Blyth. I exited the bus and grabbed a McDonald’s coffee before accessing the standard 4G cage on school grounds that all new grounds appear to be. There were about 20 or so relatives and pals watching, while Spartans and FCUM played out a1-1 draw in an FA Cup qualifier in front of 1269.

The ref set the tone for proceedings, before the coin toss, by bollocking the Blyth captain for something he said. Once it started, the game soon degenerated into a stolid slugfest, punctuated by a couple of lengthy injury stoppages. Blyth Town were the side in form, while Bedlington had lost every game so far, and things eventually went to plan when Blyth took the lead with a smart low finish after 33 minutes. It wasn’t, however, a sign of improved standards, as another 55 minutes of mundanity passed before Blyth sealed the win with a late, breakaway goal. Final score 2-0 to the visitors and I wandered to Blyth Bus Station, which is possibly the most sordid place I’ve ever visited on this whole earth. An unfulfilling day, but it had to be done.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Extra Coverage

 The 2021 Cricket season is over; please consider my blog on Tynemouth CC's final fixtures, while I deal with personal grief -:

August 2nd 2021:

Tynemouth CC this week cancelled the contract of club professional Muhammad Saad, who has returned home to Pakistan for personal reasons, by mutual consent. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Tynemouth and we wish him well in all his future endeavours. Clearly, his 713 runs and 29 wickets across all forms of the game this season have been vital to the Tynemouth cause, and we are significantly weakened by his departure.

Factoring in the unending list of injuries and COVID isolations, not to mention annual holidays, meant that the Tynemouth 1s side that journeyed to 2019 NEPL winners Burnmoor did so with a grave sense of apprehension that was proven correct by subsequent events. Having lost the morning session to a wet outfield after heavy overnight rain, the game was reduced to 72 overs. After calling correctly, captain Matty Brown inserted the hosts and had the pleasure of claiming the scalp of much-travelled, veteran opener Allan Worthy leg before. The score at this point was 74, when Ryan Pringle came to the crease. He subsequently scored a 40-ball century, contributing 111 to an unbroken 151 run partnership, allowing Burnmoor to declare at 225-1 after 31 overs, with Ross Greenwell (84*) the other batsman. In reply, Tynemouth had 41 overs to score the required runs, but only used 23 of them before being bowled out for 60. Skipper Brown top scored with 20. This result leaves the Tynemouth First XI with much thinking to do ahead of a trio of tough-looking home games against: Chester le Street, Benwell Hill and South Northumberland in the next few weeks.

Last Tuesday, Tynemouth 2s visited Jesmond for a Roseworth Trophy second round tie against Newcastle. The hosts batted first and posted a competitive 165-7 at the end of their 20 overs. The wickets were shared around in increasingly gloomy and humid conditions; Neil Bennett, Andrew Davison and Sam Robson all claiming a brace of dismissals. As the Tynemouth innings commenced, the menacing rain clouds finally issued forth. In the true spirit of the game, Tynemouth 2s endeavoured to stay on, as wickets fell with monotonous regularity. However, what began as a shower ended as a downpour and the umpires were left with no choice but to abandon the game with Tynemouth 73-5 in the 16th over and the result too tight to call. We await a date for the rearranged game.

On Saturday, Tynemouth 2s played host to Sunderland 2s, in what was a frustrating encounter. The weather caused half an hour’s delay, with play getting under way at 12.30. However, things were far from straightforward from then on as, with the score 22-1, a Sunderland player fell and seriously injured himself in the field. It was clear that not only would he be unable to continue, but that he needed medical attention. The overstretched ambulance service were forced to prioritise more serious incidents and the wait of 3 hours before the stricken visitor was whisked to Cramlington, saw the game reduced to 63 overs. Having used 11 overs already, acceleration was required. Sean Longstaff, fresh from enjoying Burton while on Newcastle United duties the night before, reasoned that in his professional career he may never play against Sunderland, so he decided to make amends in his amateur one, butchering the visiting attack while scoring 83 from 44 balls. He was ably supported by Tynemouth’s foremost red and white, Andrew Davison, who contributed a stylish 54, benefitting from the physical rigours of Newcastle United’s pre-season regime that manifested itself in Sean’s running between the wickets. After the two of them fell in successive balls, caught on the boundary, with the score on 157 in the 24th over, the tempo dropped significantly, and Tynemouth declared on 181-6 at the end of 30 overs.

In response, Sunderland showed little attacking intent and ended up on 149-5 from 33 overs. Sam Robson was the pick of the bowlers, returning 2-19, though there was also an encouraging cameo from Richard Hay. Returning gingerly from a life-threatening hamstring pull, he returned 5-13-1 bowling off spin, as an aperitif to a fine dining experience with his good lady.

The biggest game of the weekend was Tynemouth 3s home clash with GEMS 2s, as the two top sides in NTCL Division 5 South met with the leadership of the table at stake. Even better, two club stalwarts, in the shape of Martin Pollard and Dave Hull Denholm, made a playing return. Opener Chris Grievson made a solid start, but when he was second out with the score on 80, this signalled a minor collapse and things looked grim at 106-5. This brought Poll to the crease, where he partnered DHD. Both men contributed very valuable runs; 31 for Pollard and 39 for Hull Denholm. Eventually Tynemouth ended up on 173-9, which was less than their batting merited as many shots into the deep slowed up before the boundary on account of the damp ground, but seemed a par score. When GEMS were 25-3 after 10 overs, with Ed Snelders claiming 2 and Dan Storey the other, it looked as if Tynemouth were favourites. At the halfway stage, Matty Walton had claimed a further 2 victims and GEMS appeared to be on the brink of collapse at 61-5. However, this brought Hassan Raza to the middle and his storming 76* took the game away from the home side. Though Walton claimed another wicket, Tynemouth were always struggling to contain and despite taking the game to the penultimate over, GEMS won by 4 wickets. It was an excellent game of cricket, played in a spirit of competition and sportsmanship that was truly a pleasure to watch.

Unexpectedly, the Midweek Social XI are in with a real chance of winning the NTCL Midweek 3s Division. With two rearranged games remaining, a pair of victories will ensure the title. This encouraging position became clear after an excellent victory over Benwell & Walbottle, in a replayed game after the original fixture had been washed out at the midway point. Bowling first, excellent economic bowling at the start of the innings by captain Dan Storey (2-4) and Joel Hull Denholm (2-14) was built upon by “Jazzy” Geoff Simpson and Rashid “The Power” Hassan’s miserly death bowling, restricting the visitors to 58-6 from their 18 overs. In reply, a belligerent 34* by Jack O’Keefe and a fluent 21* by Evan Hull Denholm, on top of his 3 excellent catches in the first innings, saw Tynemouth home by 10 wickets in 7.4 overs.

Next week, in the last win / lose / draw 110-over games before the NEPL reverts to a final series of five 50-over a side contests, Tynemouth 1s host Chester le Street and the 2s visit Ropery Lane. The Saturday 3s visit Riding Mill, as do the Midweek XI on Wednesday, while the Sunday 3s are at home to the South North Academy.


August 8th, 2021:

On a weekend of mixed results for Tynemouth Cricket Club, the first XI played their full part in an absorbing game against Chester le Street at Preston Avenue. Sadly, despite an encouraging bowling performance from the hosts, the visitors were able to dismiss Tynemouth for 129, to win a relatively low-scoring game by 42 runs, which keeps Tynemouth in 6th place in the table. The scorecard can be viewed here;

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Chester soon found themselves in a spot of bother at 24-2, as firstly Matty Brown and then Owen Gourley had both John Coxon and Andrew Smith caught behind by Joe Snowdon. After bowling 7 overs, skipper Brown assumed his more normal position behind the stumps, while the change bowlers worked hard to make further breakthroughs. Firstly Neil Bennett claimed the prize scalp of Quentin Hughes, before club chair Graeme Hallam rolled back the years either side of lunch, claiming three quick wickets. Owen Gourley deceived George Harrison (42), showing there was something in the way the ball moved off the pitch, leaving Chester in real trouble at 130-7. Some lusty, late order hitting took CLS up to 170, before Josh Koen and Neil Bennett again mopped up the tail. Conditions had helped the bowlers, but this was a good performance with the ball by an under-strength Tynemouth side.

The question of whether the home batting line-up was strong enough to withstand the powerful Chester le Street attack was to receive a detailed investigation. At first, despite the probing spin of Sebastian Hughes-Pinan, it seemed as if Tynemouth could be in with a chance, as openers Ben Debnam and Ben McGhee advanced the score to 44, before Debnam was out leg before. Unfortunately, this produced a mini collapse as Gourley offered a straightforward return catch that Hughes-Pinan gleefully pouched and Brown also perished lbw, both without scoring, while McGhee was caught in the slips after flashing at a wide ball, reducing Tynemouth to 47-4. Joe Snowdon (37), belying his tender years, then assumed responsibility for guiding the response and played an excellent innings. Support was offered briefly by Josh Koen (11), but when Patrick Hallam was sixth out with the score on 78, defeat seemed imminent.

Despite the pervasive broiling clouds and intermittent spots of rain, the weather did not come to Tynemouth’s rescue. Instead Graeme Hallam (30) eschewed risible thoughts of batting for 65 overs to secure a losing draw and produced some fireworks to keep the large crowd, bolstered by several hundred denim and leather-clad Harley Davidson enthusiasts enjoying their annual camping jamboree on the back field, entertained. After Hallam and then Snowdon fell, the end was inevitable, though within 10 minutes of the last wicket, the ground was strafed with punishing, torrential rain, which caused the Sunday 3s game with South North to be abandoned because of a waterlogged outfield.

Tynemouth 2s had a satisfactory week. Thursday saw their replayed Roseworth Trophy tie with Newcastle switched to Preston Avenue. Batting first, Newcastle were restricted to 105-5, with James Carr (3-25) outstanding with the ball. In reply, Tynemouth eased to a 5-wicket win with 3 overs to spare. Top scorers were Snowdon and Andrew Lineham with 23 each. The reward for this victory is an away semi-final against South North on Tuesday 17 August. Meanwhile, on Saturday, the 2s had a tough time in the field at Ropery Lane, where Chester le Street 2s ran up an impressive 244-3 in 44 overs. Adam Williams (3-65) showed commendable fortitude in sticking to his task for the fielding side. In response, Tynemouth had reached 114-5 from 36 overs, with Dan Thorburn (51) and Lineham (24*) grittily keeping the innings afloat, before rain intervened, and a draw was declared. This leaves Tynemouth in 8th spot in the table and the score card can be viewed here;

The 3s journeyed to Riding Mill with only 9 players, including Neil “Cuddles” Sturrock drafted in from the Midweek XI. The home side batted first and posted 160-6 from their 40 overs.  Martin Pollard, in his second game back after serious illness, led the way with 3-30 from his 9 overs. Additionally, he contributed 46 with the bat, backing up Anthony Turner’s sparkling 66. However, this was not enough as when James Waller fell, 8th down from the first ball of the 40th over with the scores level, Sturrock was left stranded at the other end.

Ironically, the Midweek XI had also been at Riding Mill on the Wednesday before, but came away with a more encouraging result, winning by 10 runs. Batting first, a score of 97-8 was achieved courtesy of dogged determination on a bowlers’ strip. Lewis Robson top scored with 27, including three enormous maximums, while Jazzy Geoff Simpson (14) played his part, before Richard Hay (11*) and Paul Clark (9*) provided invaluable runs at the end of the innings. Impressively economical bowling by James Carr (2-17) and Richard Hay (1-13), bowling some wonderful stuff in tandem as a kind of 8-eyed elegant bowling machine, supported by Rashid Hassan (1-20), saw Tynemouth home, despite the minor tremor of conceding 3 successive 6s in the antepenultimate over. As a result, Tynemouth go to their final game at Ashington Rugby on Thursday, knowing victory will mean they are champions of the NTCL Midweek 3s league.

Next week, the 1s and 2s revert to 50-over a side win / lose games. The first XI host Benwell Hill and the 2s journey to Denton Bank. The Saturday 3s try to secure points in their quest to catch leaders GEMS 2s, when visiting Whitley Bay 2s. The Sunday 3s host Blaydon and, as mentioned, the Midweek XI have their title decider away to Ashington Rugby.

August 15th, 2021:

In the first of the final five 50-overs-a-side win/lose NEPL games, Tynemouth CC first XI were comprehensively outplayed by Benwell Hill at Preston Avenue. A warm and sunny day greeted the two teams along with a dry wicket and a lightning fast outfield. Home skipper Matt Brown called correctly and elected to bat first and, with several players missing, decided to open with former skipper Ben Debnam. Brown hit a couple of lovely boundaries before being adjudged leg before wicket for 12. Andrew Smith joined Debnam in the middle and they put on a promising partnership of 40 before Debnam clipped one to mid-wicket off the bowling of Joe Torre for 27. From a reasonable 57-2 Tynemouth collapsed to 102 all out with only Smith (27) offering any significant resistance. Torre with 4-30 was the pick of the Hill bowling. In reply Scotland Captain Kyle Coetzer made an eye catching 57 not out, never looking in trouble and Angus Guy offered good support with a composed 25.

Tynemouth 2s fared little better in their away game at Denton Bank.  Having won the toss and elected to field, Tynemouth would have been reasonably pleased to restrict The Hill to 211 all out. Chris Beever was the pick of the bowlers with 4-29, ably supported by Graeme Hallam (3-49). In response, Dan Thorburn (24) and Patrick Hallam (19) gave the Tynemouth reply a firm foundation, but after they were out at 55-2, wickets tumbled at a rate of knots. Only Graeme Hallam (20) provided any tangible resistance as the visitors were skittled for 95, to lose by 116 runs.

There was some good news from the Saturday 3s, who travelled to Whitley Bay 2s and beat them by 7 wickets, despite being so short of numbers that 57 year old ian cusack was handed his debut. Bay won the toss and decided to bat, compiling 133-7. Rashid “The Power” Hassan claimed 4 wickets at the end of the innings, after Richie Hay, Evan Hull Denholm and Dan Storey had all bowled economically, without necessarily obtaining the results their endeavours deserved. The reply was anchored by Hull Denholm’s fluent 46, with Hassan’s belligerent 28 helping Tynemouth home with plenty of overs to spare. The 3s remain in second place in NTCL Division 5 South, 30 points behind GEMS 2s, with 4 games remaining. Despite only fielding, it was wonderful to be part of the clubs victory.


The club’s first silverware of the season was claimed by the Midweek Social XI who won the NTCL Midweek 3s Division after beating Ashington Rugby on Thursday night. Fielding first, Tynemouth produced some tight bowling, with Andrew Davision (2-3) excelling with and skipper Dan Storey supporting with 1-9. ian cusack (2-29) was more expensive, but took two important wickets as Ashington Rugby finished on 65-7. The response appeared to be wobbling at 19-3, but “Jazzy” Geoff Simpson (25*) and Lewis Robson (18*) saw Tynemouth home by 7 wickets to claim the title in the team’s first season in this league. This was a wonderful feeling; eclipsing anything Ive ever known related to football.

Next week, Tynemouth first XI play host to South Northumberland on Saturday, while the 2s make the return trip. The 2s are also in action away to South North in a Roseworth Trophy semi-final on Tuesday evening, with an earlier 5.30pm start.  Finally, Tynemouth Saturday 3s are away to Cowgate Sports 2s.

August 22nd, 2021:

Rain stopped play.

August 29th, 2021:

After the previous week’s washout, all three of Tynemouth Cricket Club’s Saturday teams were in action at the start of the Bank Holiday weekend, with a majority positive set of results seeing two victories and one loss. Unfortunately, the defeat that was inflicted on the first XI was a resounding one at Sacriston, against a home team fighting hard to avoid relegation.

The day could hardly have started any worse for stand in skipper Ben Debnam who was run out for a duck in the very first over, without facing a ball.  The Tynemouth top order then offered little resistance to the pace of Stanley McAlindon and the guile of Martin Hubber. Some good ground fielding and sharp catching by the Sacriston team reduced the Seasiders to 37-4 then 49-5. Whilst wickets continued to tumble, Chris Fairley was the one player to show the required technique and patience to build an innings at this level. His 37 was full of sound defence, good leaves and attacking pulls and drives when the opportunities arose. He was ninth man out but a score of 111 appeared well under par on a pacy wicket, a fast outfield, and short boundaries. And so it proved as Sacriston raced to victory in just 16.1 overs for the loss of 1 wicket. Jonny Bushnell was easy on the eye for his 46 no and Martin Hubber stroked the ball around for a fluent 51* adding to his fine spell earlier of 2-22 from his 10 overs. This defeat leaves Tynemouth in 7th place in the NEPL Premier Division table with 2 games to go.

Meanwhile at Preston Avenue, Tynemouth 2s and 3s were successful in their contests against Sacriston 2s and Lintz 2s respectively. In the case of the second team, this did not appear likely after the visitors dismissed Tynemouth for 132. Extras top scored with 32, but in the context of such a low-scoring game, Chairman Graeme Hallam’s 23, as well as a brace of 18s by skipper Andrew Davison and Director of Cricket Andrew Lineham, were invaluable contributions. Indeed, Lee Reed’s sparking 11, including a pair of elegant boundaries, was pivotal in giving Tynemouth a total to bowl at. In the end, Chris Beever (4-26) and Richie Hay (4-31) led the team to victory by 19 runs, with the 2s now in 7th place in the NEPL Division 2 table with two league games to go.

Sadly, the previous week’s downpour has rendered Tynemouth 3s hopes of promotion from NTCL Division 5 South merely academic. Table toppers GEMS 2s benefitted from the climate’s intercession, as their opponents Greenside, who currently sit third in the table, were the only outfit who could realistically have made things difficult for them while Tynemouth 3s would have backed themselves to get the better of Cowgate Sports 2s. Instead, GEMS went into this weekend’s games with a 30-point lead over Tynemouth, as well as an imminent 30 more points after their opponents this weekend, Riding Mill, conceded.

Despite being denuded of a swathe of younger players, all of whom were enjoying Sam Fender’s performance at the Leeds Festival, an ad hoc XI, proved their mettle by restricting Lintz to 124-7. While the economical Ed Snelders was crucial in limiting Lintz to 3 runs an over, the highlight of the game was a hat trick, claimed by Martin Pollard. Considering the heights Poll has reached in his cricket career, it was perhaps surprising that this was his first ever hat trick. While his last 2 victims were both bowled, his first came courtesy of a stunning catch at extra cover by ian cusack, making up somewhat for his expensive bowling. Frankly, taking the catch was one of my favourite ever sporting moments; the elation engendered by the realisation the ball was no longer spinning, but wholly under my control, almost provoked tears. I’m glad I held it, not just for me, but for my mate Poll, as it is a marvel to see him playing cricket again after what he’s been through. Also, my 4 overs for 21 weren’t too bad; I really ought to have had an LBW, hitting the lad on is pad about a quarter way up middle stump.

In response, Reuven Snowdon got Tynemouth off to a brisk start, smiting anything in his range for a quickfire 17. Skipper Chris Grieveson played a strong supporting role, while Lewis Robson (46) contributed an elegant innings, before an explosive cameo from Neil Sturrock, who brought the game home with some fiery hitting, including a match-winning six.

Next week, Tynemouth first XI host Eppleton, while the 2s visit Boldon and the 3s are on the road to Annfield Plain. Also, the 2s face Benwell Hill in the final of the Roseworth Trophy at Preston Avenue on Sunday 5th September with a 1.00pm start.

September 5th, 2021:

On the penultimate Saturday of the season, Tynemouth CC’s first XI finally hit some form, after a wretched couple of months, soundly defeating Eppleton by 65 runs at a chilly, cloudy Preston Avenue. Having been invited to bat first, things were not immediately encouraging for the home side, with both openers Ben McGee and Ben Debnam dismissed with 22 on the board. However, skipper Matty Brown looked in excellent touch, being supported first by Barry Stewart (18) and then by Joe Snowdon, to give the scoreboard a healthier look at 126-3. Unfortunately, at this point, a calamitous mix up saw Brown run out for 48 after losing his footing when being sent back by Snowdon. Thankfully, young Joe made amends with his bat and was the side’s top scorer with 49, missing out on a half century after feathering a catch to wicket keeper Musther. Other batsmen were not so solicitous with their wickets and several poor dismissals left Tynemouth in some peril on 169 at the fall of the ninth wicket. At this point, Dan McGee was joined by Martin Pollard, fresh from a few warm-up appearances for the 3s, following his major knee reconstructive surgery. Pollard and McGee batted intelligently to take the score on to 195, which seemed a reasonable total in the circumstances and certainly a better effort than the 1s have made of late.

In response, Eppleton were soon rocking, as Owen Gourley and Andrew Smith tore the heart out of the opposition batting line-up, reducing the visitors to a paltry 24-6. Each bowler claimed 3 victims, with the inspiring agility of Pollard enabling the veteran campaigner to pouch two excellent slip catches.  To Eppleton’s credit, they did not run up the white flag and recovered to 129-7, when skipper Brown, enjoying an afternoon off from keeping duties, brought himself on to clean up the tail, resulting in Eppleton’s subsequent dismissal for 130 and Tynemouth cementing 7th place in the NEPL Premier Division table. One interesting passage of play saw Dan McGee twice denied a wicket, in successive balls. Firstly, a high full toss saw Ryan Downes caught on the boundary, only for the square leg umpire to rule the delivery a no ball on the grounds of height, before Dan bowled the same player with the very next ball which was, sadly, a free hit and so the Tynemouth left arm slow bowler was twice foiled. Unlucky Dan!

Tynemouth 2s visited Boldon, who appear to be certainties for relegation from the NEPL. In an entertaining game, Tynemouth batted first and scored 298 from their 45 overs, with half centuries by Chris Beever, Adam Williams and A N Other, as well as 48 from 13-year-old Robbie Bowman. In reply, Boldon made a spirited attempt, before subsiding to approximately 240 all out. Details are sketchy as the scores are not on Play Cricket as yet.


On Sunday, the 2s had another game, when Benwell Hill 2s provided the opposition in the Roseworth Trophy final at Preston Avenue.  Batting first, The Hill accrued 119-7, with two wickets apiece for Neil Bennett, Sam Robson and Adam Williams. In reply, Andrew Lineham top scored with a dogged 25 and Niall Piper contributed a valuable 23, but wickets fell in regular intervals to some accurate Hill bowling and Tynemouth were consequently dismissed for 102 in the penultimate over. Well done to Benwell Hill, who were deserved winners on the day.

Tynemouth 3s travelled to Annfield Plain and restricted the home side to 132 all out. The highlight of the innings was Dan Storey returning magnificent figures of 7-2-7-5 and then contributing a solid 21, when opening the batting. Rashid “The Power” Hassan made a pugnacious 39, but he and Storey were the only players to reach double figures as Tynemouth were dismissed for 98, meaning they drop to 3rd in the NTCL Division 5 South table.

Next week is the final weekend of the season. Tynemouth 1s visit Whitburn and the 2s host the reverse fixture, while the 3s conclude their campaign with a trip to Newcastle’s newest and furthest out ground, South Hetton.

September 11th, 2021

Tynemouth Cricket Club ended the 2021 campaign with a brace of praiseworthy victories over Whitburn 1s and 2s on Saturday 11th September. The first XI travelled to the Village Ground, which was looking particularly glorious in the late summer sun and dismissed the home team for 159. Owen Gourley led the attack with an impressive spell of 3-33, ably supported by Martin Pollard (2-29) and Matthew Brown (2-24), whose victims included the dangerous Jack Burnham. In response, Tynemouth had some initial difficulties with Dan Thorburn, Barry Stewart and Joe Snowdon all falling cheaply. However Ben McGee, eventually harshly given out LBW for 22, and skipper Matty Brown steadied the ship, although at 99-4 the result was still a matter for conjecture.

Andrew Smith, who had bowled steadily but without luck in his 10 overs, came to the wicket at this point and appeared a man possessed, channelling his hitherto undiscovered Liam Livingstone tendencies. Timing the ball beautifully, he played the dominant role in a match-winning unbroken partnership of 63, hitting 8 boundaries in his 43*, while Brown (53*) completed an excellent season with the bat, having scored 587 runs in his 16 NEPL innings. The result means Tynemouth finish in 6th place in the NEPL Premier Division table, which is an adequate reflection of a season that contained many ups and downs.

Tynemouth 2s hosted their Whitburn counterparts and made 179 all out in 44 overs. Sam Robson ended the campaign with a personal season’s top score of 83, with only Chris Beever (20) making a significant supporting contribution. In response, Whitburn were dismissed for 147 after 36 overs. Bowling plaudits are due to: Joel Hull-Denholm (3-16), Graeme Hallam (3-22) and Richard Hay (2-28) as the 2s also finish in 6th place in NEPL Division 2, which is an accurate reflection of their efforts this summer.

Unfortunately, the 3s were unable to raise a side and sadly conceded to Newcastle 3s, which means the team finishes in third position in the NTCL Division 5 South. We only had 6, including me, so the Angus Sibbett Memorial Trophy remains uncontested.