Sports administrators the world over generally get a bad press, and usually rightly so, don’t get me started on FIFA, but when they get things right nobody notices much. So let me give a word of praise for whichever bright spark it was that came up with the idea of running a lot of sport’s European Championships at the same time, in a kind of mini Olympics. Athletics, swimming, cycling, gymnastics, etc. Brilliant if you ask me. And to then split it between two cities, in this first attempt Glasgow and Berlin, to end up with just enough variety, but not so much as to kill the more minority interests, was the icing on the cake. In the way of all great ideas it seems dead obvious when it happens; a case of “Why didn’t we think of this before?” Well done that man or woman. Must find out who it is. Just don’t expect any thanks or recognition, except maybe as a pub quiz question in 20 years time.
View from the Cemetery
So what is the most important equipment at a football club? Nets and balls? Mowers and markers? Well, let me put a word in for the defibrillator. Everybody will know of the emergency suffered by Lenny French last Saturday, a heart attack that could have had tragic consequences, but for the brilliant work of Rachel Davison our club physio, who did wonders in assessing Lenny’s condition and keeping him calm and under review until the emergency services could arrive; and the speedy and ultra professional response of the ambulance staff and the hospital who got him under treatment so quickly and effectively. Lenny was sitting up and talking post op before 6.30 last Saturday night, which is amazing in itself, and he is progressing well, and should be back with us very soon. Heartfelt thanks to all involved.
Always a good day is the first of the season proper, and excellent opponents today in the always tough and competitive Newcastle Benfield. Last year's game here was a cracker, with Benfield taking the lead and our boys fighting back for a hard worked for good win in the end. Be great if today is an equally entertaining game. And the start of an interesting season, as the FA’s structural changes to the non-league game start to take effect after long delays and prevarication. Marske and Morpeth have gone, upwards and maybe onwards, good luck to them both, will it work out for them? I hope so, but I’m not certain. If it was just about football I would be confident they would finish first and second this season in the Evostik North, and they may very well do so, but it isn’t just about football is it? It’s also about long journeys, time off work, early starts, late returns, and irate bosses, wives and children. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both back sometime in the next couple of years. Maybe not though. Anyway it will still be tough and competitive here, and probably made more competitive by the much reduced fixture list. Two gone up and one dropped out and all of a sudden it's six games fewer than last season. Which is a lot. Team North were always a funny set up, some very nice people but not really a football club as we know it, and their leaving of the league so late leaves a sour taste. As did the appalling corporate claptrap Northumbria University came out with to try and justify their decision. Free advice to the Vice Chancellor and his PR department: when you have been a prat, just say sorry. It works for me.
So, are we going for it? Are we up to it? Good summer I reckon, with most people staying, a couple of famous returns in Sparky and JJ, and a crop of interesting youngsters. So maybe we will be able to sustain a challenge close to the top. The bigger squad should certainly help. Injuries cost us dear mid season last term, but a lot of teams seem to be setting their stall out for a real bash at things, including at least one of the promoted sides. Should be good, let's get to it.
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.