View from the cemetery

View from the Cemetery - August 2014 - Part 2

A factor in this new season which had escaped my attention until Sunday, and which for some reason has tickled me more than somewhat, is the new name under which the Conference clubs will be operating this year. You probably already noticed. It is now the Vanarama Football Conference no less. Vanarama are no doubt a top class outfit, the go to guys if you need to lease a van, part of the Autorama Group, based in the fine footballing town of Hemel Hempstead, and obviously determined to raise their profile through the medium of football. Good luck to them I say. But I can’t help thinking that as they started casting the net for new sponsors the good people of the Conference management committee were hoping for something maybe a little bit more upmarket, or at least more upmarket sounding. BT Sport maybe, or perhaps British Gas. Or if not more upmarket then one of the apparently endless supply of betting firms now on the go; the Paddy Power Conference, or the Bet 365 Conference. But no, after much diligent effort it is the Vanarama Conference after all. And very good it sounds.

View from the cemetery - August 2014

According to Google Earth the grounds of Billingham Synthonia and Billingham Town are about 400 yards apart, as the crow flies. Meadow Park and the Colliery Welfare by comparison are about 800 yards apart. So not the closest, but it still makes no sense to have RCA and the CW at home at the same time, which, unless postponements, cup ties and secretarial ingenuity can work their magic, will happen time after time this season. It's just a cock up of course, not a conspiracy as many would have it, but it is very harmful, not just to RCA and the Welfare, but also to trying to build Northern League football in Sunderland. Self inflicted wounds, the most painful kind, he says pompously...

View from the cemetery - March 2014 - Part 4

Last home game of the season, and still in March? What has happened? Is summer football starting after all? Or is it just the vagaries of the old Golightly computer? Seems a bit odd whatever the reason, and with all to play for as well. There seem to be a lot of conspiracy theories around at the moment, so is this the making of another one? Has the fat lad upset someone in authority? Again? Makes you wonder. Never mind, some of us will just moulder on down here while you lot enjoy the delights of Crook and Bedlington and such like, not to mention Penrith on a Tuesday night; always a fun ride out. Shouldn't complain of course, those lads are back and forth across the A66 every other week, and still have a boatload to go. And they put up a decent show here on the Meadow a fortnight since, although as an unbiased supporter I thought the second half effort from our bold lads deserved a point at least. And by all accounts the same applied down at Guisborough last week. Well, nobody ever said it was fair, or if they did they are daft.

The reason football is the best game in the world is because the best side doesn't always win. Or so I reckon anyway. Which doesn't mean you should rely on luck, doing things right is the way to go, and by and large it pays off overall. The late, great Bob Paisley used to maintain that you should always ignore results good or bad when looking at your team, because there was nothing much you could do about results, what mattered was performances, and if you got that right the results would follow. All very true no doubt, although some think a little bit bribery also helps sometimes....

View from the cemetery - March 2014 - Part 3

Well, Saturday was close wasn't it? Terrible conditions, couldn't work out whether it was better to be playing down the bank with the wind at your back, or up it with it in your face, and neither could the players of either side to be honest. But our bold lads battled away and finally cracked it with a superb free kick from young Wilson; he can strike a dead ball, can't he? So, over the forty point mark and still a long way to go before we can claim to be safe, funny old season. Should keep us focused though, and the interest up, although I note us home only fans have only one more game to enjoy this season after Penrith on Tuesday night, with another six on the road. Like the Gypsy Kings on tour. And just as we appear to have finally laid the old home game hoodoo, let’s hope it isn't going to turn the other way now....

View from the cemetery - March 2014 - Part 2

So back to the real thing as the Wembley dream dares to disappear, and probably for another fifteen years at that. Never mind, much more importantly it's a big few days coming up for the bold boys over the fence. Points in the bag or games in hand? What would you choose? By Wednesday morning we will have a good idea. Might be delighted, might be very worried, or more probably somewhere in between. Have to ignore the home game problems which still haunt us from time to time mind, and by all accounts Billy Town are planning on going down with a flourish, making plans, plotting results, and even signing some of our old boys I hear, and tasty ones as well. Still, I'm confident we can do the business, and with Penrith to follow, always a long ride out from Cumbria on a Tuesday night, we have got to have a chance with that one as well. Let's be positive boys and girls! One thing I reckon is that it will go to the wire, as it usually does.

View from the cemetery - March 2014

Mixed fortunes on the road this last week or so, big disappointment up at Team North the other night in the proverbial six pointer, followed by a very good point down at Synners on Saturday, featuring that rare pleasure, a goal from the off without the other side touching the ball. First man in action for Synners being the keeper picking it out of the net. I would have liked to see that one. And stalwart work thereafter I hear. Team North a less happy occasion I'm told. I'm no expert, as many people will tell you, but it seems to me that our bold young boys usually have only one way of playing, gung-ho from the off, and never mind cagey ten man defending. Or even three or four man. Good stuff most of the time, and I'm all for it, leads to great nail biting wins like the 4-3 at Consett, but sometimes you could wish for something a bit more Italian in the defending stakes; like when you are 1-0 up at relegation rivals for example? Still best to encourage youthful adventure. Never mind, on we go, going to be an interesting last few weeks, bring it on I say. Down to the wire and good nerves vital. I remain confident.

View from the cemetery - February 2014

As you will know I am not one of those who treats the biannual battles between Newcastle and Sunderland in the "big league" as the be all and end all of football in the North East. Generally speaking my interest is focused well and truly on the drama and excitement available just over the fence. But there is no denying that the old juices stir and joy rises anew when the current group of bold Sunderland patriots, hailing from all points of the compass as they do, head north and come away victorious against the equally multinational, with a French flavour, forces of darkness who live in Sid James Park. Particularly when I am informed that it was as comprehensive a three nil as you are ever likely to see. He certainly wouldn't have been my pick, not that anybody asked, but there is no doubt the Uruguayan knows his stuff. And maybe his nationality, accustomed as he and his fellow countrymen are to having to fight to be noticed amongst bigger neighbours with a vastly inflated sense of their own importance, enabled him to pick up the regional vibe quite quickly. He could have chucked himself down the touchline like the mad fascist though. To be fair in recent years it has gone against Sunderland more times than not, so these last few games are good reason for celebration, even for those of us who concentrate on the real thing. The old town has few enough good news stories, barring football and Nissan. So, a jolly good weekend was no doubt had in the hostelries of Ryhope. The ones that are left that is. More shut than open nowadays. Not like the days of my youth when the whole lot were thronged. Ah well.

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