(GROUND NUMBER 44)
Date of First Visit: 12th AUGUST 1978
SHIELFIELD PARK, BERWICK UPON TWEED
BERWICK RANGERS 0
NEWCASTLE UNITED XI- 1 (Blackhall)
ATTENDANCE: 1,780 (1,000 Toon fans) (inc. 100 radgies!)
"THE BATTLE OF BERWICK 1978!"
|Somewhere near 'The Brown Bear' boozer--Berwick|
'The Waterloo Wobblers' met up at the 'Central' tih catch the orly train tih Berwick for this pre-season 'friendly'.
'The Wobblers' az we were affectionately known in them days, (coz wih often foond it hard tih waalk in a straight line after an 'aall day bender'!) used tih drink in the aad Waterloo bar on the corner of Westgate Road and Bath lane, not far from St. James', and a good torn oot was expected for the short trip north tih Tweedmooth.
(The Waterloo was opposite 'Tilly's Bar' and has lang since been demolished!)
Amongst the assembled crew that day were such weird and wonderfully named characters like, 'Windy' Wind, 'Jimmy The Mask', 'Santy' Sant, (nee relation tih that white bearded fella!) 'Dylan' (Paulus the Woodgnome) Younger, 'Bob The Bag', 'Mad Mac', 'Lang haired Mac', 'Fawlty Dowaz', Marty 'Eggs 'n' Bacon' Faichen, Johnny 'The Streaker' Burns and of course meesel, aka: 'Fink', the writer of this 'piece'!. (Aalthough, 'Fink' iz 'hardly a 'wierd name'---iz it!?)
A reet 'mottley crew' of 'twenty somethings', aalthough not aall would retorn from the Scottish borders that day.
Aaltogether, Berwick has changed hands between the English and Scots nee fewer than *14 times, in the centuries of bloody conflict between the two warin' nations with the forst 'Battle of Berwick' takin' place in 1296
(*or was it 17 times?---history wasn't one of mee favourite subjects at skool!)
The last time it changed hands was in the 1300's (mee thinks?) when the English retook the border toon and it haz remained in England ever since.
HOWEVER!--for one brief period on 12th August 1978 it changed hands once again!, this time tih the GEORDIE INVADERS!, who had come there en-mass for the 'friendly'? match between Berwick and a Newcastle XI.
The waaterin' holes in the centre of Berwick were packed with Toon fans who had completely took ower the place!, and by the time kick off approached ower the bridge in Tweedmooth there were a canny few 'wheelbarrow jobs' amongst the Geordie 'foot-soldiers'!. (Meesel includeed!)
This game was played at the height of futbaall aggro, when, wherever yih went there was likely tih be trouble, and this match proved tih be nee exception.
Ootside 'The Brown Bear' boozer in the toon centre there was a standoff between 'The Geordies Invaders' and 'The Berwickshire Dibbles' and before lang aall hell broke loose as truncheons were drawn and bricks were thrown as a pitched battle, not unlike that of seven hundred years ago then ensued (slight exaggeration!) before everybody realised that it was in fact 'match time' and aall of a sudden the fightin' stopped as 'The Geordie Invaders' staggered ower 'The Tweed' towards Shielfield Park!
"FANCY DRIBBLE RULED OFFSIDE!"
Aaltogether, play was stopped three times az the Toon fans invaded the pitch.
On one occasion a 'Dibble' was kicked in the heed az a hundred fans (a tenth of the Toons travellin' support) climbed ower the wire fence and aall hell broke loose.
One of the 'Wobblers', namely, 'Marty', who was 'canny sorved' decided tih join in the game when an injury to a Toon player in the second half stopped the game for several minutes.
He vaulted ower the low perimeter fence and took the baall off a startled Berwick defender who was standin' near the touchline.
He then procceeded tih bamboozle the opposition with a mazzy run az he made off doon the pitch towards the Rangers goal!.
After some breathtakingly daft dribblin' (that's reet---DAFT dribblin'---NOT!---deft!) he beat a forther three players who attempted tih stop him (one, with a 'failed' rugby tackle!) before roondin' their keeper and cooly slottin' the baall intih the empty net!. (Which iz sommik that the Toon players had'nt managed aall afternoon!)
This brought thunderous applause and laughter from the Toon fans, BUT!, the local 'Dibble' did'nt see the 'funny side' and he was 'sent off', alang with 'Fawlty Dowaz' and several other members of the 'Waterloo Wobblers' who had joined him on the pitch!. ('Sent off' tih the nearest 'meat wagon', that iz!)
And aall they got for their troubles was a neet in the Berwick 'COP'thorne Hotel, plus a 100 quid fine intih the bargain! (With inflation, that's 700 'smackaroonies' in todayz money!)
Oh! yes!---ah nearly forgot aboot the MATCH!---up until Marty's intervention, it had been a typical pre-season 'run-aboot' and it did'nt 'liven up' again till ten minutes before time, when Ray Blackhall rose magnificently ower the Rangers defence tih heed home a Ralph Callachan corner, which sealed the victory for the 'Black 'n' Whites'.
('Er'!---that meenz that wih actually won TWO-nil---does'nt it???) (Memo: 'Must cut doon on the alcohol intake')
After the match there was more fightin' in the streets, az wih made wor way back tih Berwick toon centre and total mayhem in the train station az wih waited for the 'Cannon Baall Express' tih tek wih back tih Tyneside, with quite a few more Toon fans gettin' their 'collars felt before they made the train'!.
(It was later said that this was the worst trouble that the border toon had seen since Berwick had famously beaten Glasgow giants Rangers 11 years previously in a Scottish Cup tie)
Infact!---this game had been a prelude for wor forst league game of the season at Millwall the followin' week---a 'practice' run yih could say?, for wor visit tih 'The DEN of iniquity!'-----(We would not be disappointed!) (see ground number 45!)
The local papers said it aall aboot 'Marty's' 'wonder goal':
''FANCY DRIBBLE RULED OFFSIDE!'-"--the Jawnil's heedline screamed!, az it went on tih describe his dribblin' 'technique'!
So?---the final score WAS anly ONE-NIL after AALL!
'-----BUT!----Hang on a minute!---he couldn't! have been offside!---He was in his AAN! half of the pitch when he got the baall!.!
---TWO-NIL! TIH THE TOON!
"---(I REST MY CASE!)
FINAL REVISED SCORE:
BEWICK RANGERS 0
NEWCASTLE UNITED XI- 2 (Faitchen, Blackhall)
Marty sadly passed away suddenly just before Christmas 2002, but he will not be forgotten.
For he will gan doon in the annals of Newcastle United's folklore az the anly fan in the clubs lang history tih come on az a 'sub' and score a goal for them in open play!.
©Fink ™(the mad-sad gr☺undh☺pper!)