Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tow Law Town v Norton & Stockton Ancients - Northern League Division 1

Wednesday 10th March 2010. Northern League Division 1
Ironworks Road, Tow Law

Tow Law Town (2) 2 (Craggs 2)
Norton & Stockton Ancients (4) 5 (Alderson, Clarke 3, Tobin OG)

Admission £5, No programme but free team sheet issued
The original plan, seeing as I was in County Durham anyway, was to go to either Consett or Shildon tonight.
Both would be re-visits, not that that would be a problem, I usually enjoy my trips up into this 'far corner' of the country anyway, but I chanced upon a fixture I wasn't expecting, which was an added bonus in my book.
According to the Non League Paper (a journal that is the best in it's field but not always accurate with it's info), Tow Law v Norton & Stockton was a Tuesday night game.
Unforeseen circumstances had made me miss any opportunity to go to any match at all yesterday, which was a bit of a ball ache.
But, while I was waiting for my lunch in a health food emporium (salad and low fat spread on brown bread, of course), I read the sports section in a local newspaper and it had the game listed as being played tonight.
It was only a minor detour up the A68 to check out the truth of the matter (what's a 42 mile round trip between friends) and this was one of those occasions that creative mileage book 'amendments' was invented for.
And, yes indeed, I discovered that there was a game on at the Ironworks Road ground tonight and the people getting the pitch ready were more than happy to invite me inside and give me a tour and free reign of the place to take some pictures.
Even though it would mean me stomping around on the pitch.
Actually, I think that helped to thaw the areas that were still a bit hard.
Plastic sheeting protecting the strip of pitch that's 'still a bit hard'

Tow Law Town, in their bleak hillside location have suffered more than most with the weather this season.
This was their first home game since 12th December 2009.
'A bleak hillside location' note the snow capped hills in the background

Even the 'home' League Cup game v Consett on Monday had been played at Belle Vue (AKA ... away), just to get the fixture out of the way.
It had been called off at 7pm (at Ironworks Road) and switched, there and then, to Consett's ground, where it kicked off at 8pm.
90 days after the fixture's scheduled start, it finally finished when the home team, playing away, beat the away team, playing at home, 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw (you work it out).
Of course, Tow Law is where a promising young player, then turning out part time for the Lawyers while working in a sausage factory, set out on a career that would see him reach the dizzy heights of playing for both Worksop Town and Staveley Miners Welfare (oh, and Glapwell).
In between times, Christopher Roland Waddle had a slightly less glamorous 'journeyman' existence, where he had appeared in the colours of a few somewhat less prestigious club's such as Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympic Marseille, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Falkirk, Bradford City, Burnley and Torquay United.
Oh, and he played 62 times for his country and managed Burnley for a while too.
Alas, in spite of all the other games he played during his career, he is mainly remembered for that one when he missed a penalty kick.
I'll never forget it either, that night he put that penalty kick for the Tigers over the crossbar at Sandy Lane and broke Darren Brookes' car window into the bargain.
Yes, statistics fans, that is the same Darren Brookes who joined Doncaster Rovers from Worksop Town in 1997 and who later rejoined the Tigers ... fascinating stuff, eh!?
Two of the first people you will meet at Ironworks Road, are Audrey the friendly, chatty and very informative raffle ticket seller ... I was too bashful to ask her where she got her dayglo gloves from but I really want a pair ... and 'Darlo Dave' who does loads of jobs around the ground for TLTFC and is one of those unsung heroes that Non League clubs couldn't get by without.
A guy christened David who hails from Darlington
collects the warm up balls before the game.

There was also a very nice local lady called Mary, who wherever you stood in the ground (believe me I moved enough times to test out my theory) could be heard, loudly shouting out 'words of encouragement' in a very shrill voice.
May saints preserve any referee who makes a mistake, or unfortunate player who misplaces a simple pass when Mary is around.
The game itself, in my humble judgement, was thoroughly entertaining.
Tow Law took the lead, possibly slightly against the run of play, when Daniel Craggs scuffed a low shot along the ground that deceived Briggs in the visitors goal and ended up in the bottom corner of the net from all of 20 yards out, after just two minutes.
The Ancients (does anyone know if that's their official nickname?) almost equalised straight away, but a right wing corner flashed across the goal and went narrowly wide.
A few minutes later the home side's keeper punched out a direct free kick that was destined for the roof of the net, but on ten minutes, Tow Law's spirited rearguard finally cracked and Dave Alderson scrambled the ball home, just inside the left hand post, to make it one apiece.
L to R, wind turbines and a windswept football ground.

On 17 minutes, despite Norton & Stockton applying plenty of pressure, Tow Law were back in front.
The goal's been credited to Daniel Craggs, so if it's all official like, I will have to go along with that, but feel Dale Mulligan, the visitors number 4, will be feeling very fortunate that his 'heavy deflection' into the net from Craggs' thumping right wing cross wasn't deemed to be an own goal.
Ancients equalised again on 24 minutes, a Jamie Clarke header was saved but he put the rebound home, just inside the left hand post (see if you spot a theme developing here as the game goes on).
On the half hour mark, Mike Dunwell, did well to hit a slide rule pass to David Hillerby in the area.
Hillerby's effort found it's way into the net via Steve Tobin for an own goal, just inside the left hand post ... just for a change.
In a bid to keep their fuel bills down, Tow Law Town have installed their very own
wind turbine, to power the floodlights and other electrical output at Ironworks Road.
There are certainly plenty of stiff breezes coming over them hills for them to utilise.

Before half time, Jamie Clarke rounded the keeper to stick home his second and his sides fourth goal.
On 62 minutes he fired home from inside the box to complete his hat trick, by which time the Tow Law goalkeeper had finally begun to realise he could actually use his hands and was allowed to move from his line and chuck himself about in the mud every now and then.
He had a shocker in the first half, but played a big part in a damage limitation exercise throughout the second period.
My advice to Tow Law Town would be to get that left hand post at the clubhouse end of the ground exorcised as a matter of some urgency.
If you ever decide to visit Tow Law Town, wrap up warm, very warm. And take extra layers to put on at half time if it's a night game.
Be sure to use the chip shop on the main A68 through the village ... awesome value for money.
You can buy a piping hot steak pie and a stonking great big chip butty just £2.20
Of course the earlier reference to food was merely a red herring, only poofs eat salad sandwiches really.
I was actually waiting for a sausage and black pudding cob in a greasy spoon joint near to Darlington railway station when I read about this fixture.
Me, from my best side.

I've never seen a health food emporium in the north east of England.
Or anybody who looked like they might be remotely interested in entering one for that matter either.
Hmm, Tow Law is approximately half way between my north Notts abode and Tynecastle Park, I might start using the A68 a bit more again en route to SPL games now that the weather is improving ... slightly.
It's always wise to take sustenance on board during a long journey.
When I got back to my room, I was just in time to see the highlights of Man Utd PLC v. AC Milan. The game that Rooney, Beckham and Co. served up, was nearly as good as the one I'd just witnessed at Ironworks Road ;-)
Left click to enlarge