End of Season Review? What is this? The Ghostly Gadgie is being a bit premature I hear you cry, there are still four games to play. Yes I know, but only five days to play them in, hence the special end of season programme, and the need for my season long thoughts. Anyway, these are my feelings re the season, not a match by match review, so I don’t think it matters too much if it's a bit early, I’m not going to change my mind now. So, what do you reckon? More to the point, what do I reckon?
Great start in the summer sun, only one defeat in our first eleven matches, and that desperately unlucky down at Marske, where we bossed the game from start to finish and somehow came away losing 2-1. One of our best performances of the season I thought, in fact. And that eleven game start to the season included four FA Cup matches and eventual victory in three ties, meaning we were still in the Cup come mid-September; unheard of, and looking forward to a trip to Scarborough. Which was fun, but again a bit unlucky. Big crowd, club obviously on the up and good hosts; but I thought we should have won. We bossed the first half, and had plenty of chances to get in front then fell to a couple of sucker punches in the second half. Great day out though.
Let me expand on the Cups this season. Scarborough was our first cup defeat, and they are now almost certain to finish second in the Evostik North, the league above us, and win promotion. In the Vase we faced Runcorn Linnets home and away, should have won both games fairly comfortably, but lost to a last second goal in the replay; and Runcorn Linnets have run away with the Hallmark Securities North West Counties League. Later on in the season we faced South Shields in the Durham Challenge Cup, a cracking match at the rapidly developing Mariners Park where several Shields fans told us it had been their toughest game of the season to date, and an odd goal in five defeat to a side who have gone on to win the Evostik North ahead of Scarborough. You see my point? All tough ties against very successful clubs, and we are rightly disappointed with the results. Got to be a good sign. Alright we got beat at Whitley Bay in the League Cup, but these things happen.
Back to the Northern League though. The FA Cup and Vase were fun, but they started a real bad run of injuries, and through the autumn and winter those injuries were a nightmare as we struggled to field a side at times and lost a string of games, many of them games we probably would not have lost otherwise. But bodies came back and we steadied the ship. Our strikers for a while had those non-scoring runs that afflict all goal scorers from time to time, and it looked like the season would fade away. And the rains came. Boy did the rains come. Like Noah on a bad day. Deft and Dave tore their hair out as the pitch looked more suitable for rice growing than football. But maybe the various enforced breaks did us good. Two defeats in our last thirteen games as I write, and some of the football has been spectacular. We still miss too many chances, but we score plenty. Our strikers are all back in the groove and the midfield are chipping in regularly. And the defence is strong, committed and resolute. Most people are fit most of the time, and it's noticeable how many different players have won man of the match awards. It was a very good idea to ask different people to nominate a MoM every game as well, I think Simon gets the credit for that. Highlights? For me a few games stand out. Ashington at home in the FA Cup, really blew them away. Liversedge away also in the FA Cup, superb performance and a great night. North Shields at home, bit of a bogey club, but not this time. Then late on a trio of games in a row when we really got going. West Auckland away, Newcastle Benfield at home and of course the six nil win at Bishop Auckland away. Very, very pleasant, I thank you.
Overall a very good season I reckon. Plenty of disappointments among the triumphs, but so what? What hurts you makes you stronger, and I am already looking forward to next season. Well done lads, well done all our volunteers and committee, including some new young faces which is good news, and well done to our growing band of supporters.
Canny little club this, even if it is a bit chilly over the fence.