The sun shone on the Tyne Valley and roared on by their third-highest crowd of the season, Ryton Football Club won their first home game of the season – and their first three points in any competition since a 2-1 win at Sunderland RCA on Tuesday 10th August 2010.
Northern League Day really began a few minutes after midday, when 106 fans at Whickham (including Northern League Chairman Mike Amos, George Caulkin of The Times and at least one football blogger, saw Washington’s Joseph Mence put through his own goal. By that stage, the Socrates Ryton football writers had come to the unanimous conclusion that Mordue Brewery’s Riverboat was far and away a better choice of brew than ice-cold Foster’s Lager. Well, the near unanimous conclusion…
We arrived at Kingsley Park just in time to see the teams kick off through a gap in the fence, paid our money in and proceeded to eat the burger van out of hot food before the players departed for half-time with the Synners and Ryton’s young team level at one-one. I was still coming down the stairs after a cup of tea and jam tart with Mike Amos (disappointing lack of prawn sandwiches at these places) when the home side went 2-1 up – and some of the Socrates Ryton lot were still in the bar when they added a third. And a fourth. And, astonishingly, a fifth. Billingham pulled two back, James Magowan completing a hat-trick to match the home side’s Chris McCabe, but Ryton held on, leaving the pitch to the cheers of a hundred thirsty and sunburnt supporters (“You’re playing for your public today,” manager Peter Craggs had told them during the second half).
Brilliant club, brilliant people and a thoroughly enjoyable day. Best moment? Standing outside Ryton manager Peter Craggs’ taxi listening to the results on BBC Radio Newcastle. “And on Northern League Day relegated Ryton won their first home game of the season…”
Massive thanks once again to the lads at Corona Furniture and Andrew Watchman. Genuinely lovely people, they not only paid for the Northern League Day posters but also turned out for two games on the Day itself and splashed out several extra pounds in beer, burgers and raffle tickets. Corona delivers top-quality furniture at Cheik Tiote prices in under 21 days while Andrew is a registered players’ agent and football fanatic who’ll gladly offer free advice to any young or up-and-coming footballers (firstname.lastname@example.org). Top blokes and everyone at Northern League Day highly recommends both of them.
Northern League Day’s Local (and not so local) Heroes:
Scott Oliver and Brian Maitland
Football and Music
Keith Stoker and Liam Dufferweil
Stuart Fuller and Danny Last
And everyone else who helped make the first Northern League Day such a great day out. The site, by the way, will continue to run: to paraphrase the words of Winston Churchill, this isn’t the end of Northern League Day, just the end of the beginning.
Watch this space.