Thursday 7 January 2010

273: don valley stadium,sheffield


Date of First Visit: 13th OCTOBER 2009





Attendance: 203 (or 4?) (‘The Mad Professor’ coonted them!) (50 or so Toon fans)


The Gloucester pub opposite Gatesheed Civic Centre was mee forst ‘port o’ caall’ for a few ‘tonsil ticklers’ (John Smith’s bitter!) before heedin’ for the bus concourse where mee lift was from.

Wor meetin’ point with ‘Dave from York’ was a waaterin’ hole within ‘hocklin’ distance’ of groond, which went by the strange name of ‘The Cocked Hat’ and we duly arrived at the designated time. Within a few minutes the ‘Ashington Antagonists’ torned up (Glennn and Byzy) and Glennn telt us that they’d been lookin’ for a pub caalled ‘The Copper Dragon’ where Dave had telt them to gan te, but! they could’nt find it anywhere, despite waalkin’ in circles aroond the groond?.


Dave then arrived with his side-kick Alex and explained that he’d got the pub’s name wrang and this was the one he’d actually meant! (he is an OAP yi na!) (Old And Pist!)

This resulted in a ‘domino effect’ response from the assembled saddos with various names to wot the pubs real name actually was, includin’!---‘The Cock-Eyed Goldfish Tavern’---‘The Dragons Cocked It Up Inn’ and ‘The Cock-Eyed Copper Dragons Hat’

(ie: Dave had ‘cocked it up’ ‘big style’ and we were’nt gannih let him forget it!)



It was soon time to gan to the match and up until this point we had’nt seen a single Rotherham fan either in the bar or on the streets and it was’nt until we got to the rear of the stadium concourse that the forst one appeared. He was an aad gadgie standin’ beside a ‘Pukka Pie’ stall, which believe it or not aalso had the match programme on sale for the princely sum of 20p! next to the Heinz tomato sauce bottle! (a single ‘A4’ piece of glossy paper with a red border!)


When ‘The Mad Professor’ commented that he’d seen it aall, the Rotherham fan piped up---“Wots wrong wih that lad!?”, as though it was normal to sell pies ‘n’ programmes from a food hut! (strange folk theeze Yorkshiremen!)

Admission was free! (so there were complaints from ‘The Mad Professor’ and ‘Dave from York’ aboot NOT getting’ their OAP discoont!) and there were ne tornstiles to gan through (or to be seen?) and you simply waalked through a door and into the stadium concourse. The downside of free entry is that there are ne match tickets for the souvenir hunters like me Glennn and Byzy , but at least we did have some glossy sheets of paper to add to wor collections!


We needed to use the ‘tool-shed’ and unbelievably the way to them was in near darkness with just dim emergency lightin’ to guide us. Some of the netties were locked, just to mek it a bit harder, but thankfully we eventually foond one that was open! (“oh mee achin’ bladder!”)

On wor way back we foond that some of the doors to the seats were aalso locked as well? and we had to waalk aall the way back to the main concourse to try and find a way in!

(so much for the Taylor report-----and this WAS Sheffield after aall!)


We eventually foond some unlocked doors to the main stand seats (“horray!”) and as there were less than 200 hardy souls inside when we arrived we managed to find some prime viewin’ seats on the half way line near the back of the stand.

The Don Valley had recently hosted a U2 concert and they’d had to relay parts of the damaged pitch which was a patchwork of dark and light green grass.


The World Student Games had aalso been at the stadium a while back and they had an Olympic flame torch to the right hand side of us on the grass bank behind the goal. (aalthough it has to be said, it was’nt lit for this momentous occasion!) (an insult to aall of us!) To the left there was a scoreboard and a big clock’ so yi had ne fear of not naa’in wot the reet time was.

Viewin’ matches in an athletic stadium with a ten lane runnin’ track ‘to boot’ is not my cup of tea (give me beer any day!) and it totally kills the atmosphere wherever these games may be, especially when there are virtually less people in the stands as there are players on the pitch!


Rotherham were playin’ here of course because the owner of their Millmoor Groond some five miles away in ‘er!’ Rotherham (a scrap metal man no less!) was tryin’ to flog it for a few bucks and this was the nearest place that they could find to play!

The Toon’s team consisted of 10 of the 12 players who had played in an under 18 game at the weekend as many of the resorve team regulars were either injured or on international duty, which meant it was aalways gannih be an uphill struggle for us.


So it was a great surprise when we took the lead in the 12th minute when 16 year old midfielder Aaron Spear (a very appropriate name to grace an athletic stadiums outfield!) stabbed (sic!) the baall in from a very tight angle at ‘The Big Clock End’

However the lead did’nt last very lang and the ‘exiles’ equalized in the 27th minute with an unfortunate own goal from Ben Tozer and that’s the way it stayed til the break.

The second half started off with loads of pressure from the home side and this paid off in the 55th minute when Cummins blasted a shot past Jak Alnwick in the Toon goal. It was soon 3-1 from a Warner effort and it was ‘game ower’ 12 mins from time with a raspin’ shot from Brogan.


‘The Mad Professor’ missed the thord goal as he was wanderin’ the aisles coontin’ the crowd and when he came back he telt us that it was 203----the anly problem was!----he’d forgot to coont himself!----and he so adjusted it to 204! (believe it or not, even the ‘Ronny–Gill’ gave this as the ‘official attendance’ the next day!)

There was a late consolation goal from Baheng who heeded into an empty net followin’ a goalkeepin’ blunder at the ‘Unlit Olympic Torch End’ (“whey!”---“wot else could yi caall it?”) to give the scoreline a little bit of respectability!

To sum up---“We cocked it up big style”---as ‘Dave from York’ would say!


©Fink (the mad-sad gr☺undh☺pper!)

Friday 1 January 2010

001: st james' park,newcastle


Date of First Visit: 12th SEPTEMBER 1964


NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 (Colin Taylor, Barrie Thomas)



ATTENDANCE 37,481 (plus 10 who climbed a three part ladder & sneaked in!)

September the twelth nineteen sixty fower is a date that is indelibly etched in mee memory as St. James' Park was of course, the forst futbaall groond that a'd ever been tee! And the orliest game ah can remember attendin’ was against the ‘Sky Blues’ of Coventry City, when aa went there with a few of mee school mates


Brothers Rob & Alan and Joe & Richie alang with a lad who lived doon the street caalled Jackie , plus a few others (who's names aa can't recaall?) went tih the game, and it was 'shirt sleeve weather' on that waam September afternoon in 1964 with ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ boomin’ from the loudspeakers as the game was aboot to kick off! (NO!—aa can’t remember that!---but somehow Rob can!?)


An aad gadgie dressed entirely in a black ‘n’ white striped ‘top hat and tails’ suit was waalkin’ roond the pitch windin’ the crowd up and as he came past us he raised his hat and striped stick in the air and a huge roar enveloped the groond




We were in the old Leazes End that day, and this was mee 'birthplace' as a Newcastle fan, but little did aa realise at the time it was aalso the start of mee ‘life sentence’ as well!

The groond was a bit ram shackle and the facilities were a bit primitive in them days, aalthough aa thought it was like ‘heaven on orth’. (Hot dogs, peanuts and Dickmans pies were the fans staple diet back then, and the ‘tool sheds’ were like open sewers!)

The Leazes End was the anly cover for standin’ spectators while both the Popular Side (East Stand side) and Gallowgate End had ne cover at aall! The barrel roofed West Stand to the reet was the anly one with any seats (less than 5,000!) and it had an open standin’ paddock in front.


The fower floodlight pylons were massive (150 feet high) and could be seen from miles away (includin’ mee very aan front door!) and they completely dominated the Tyneside skyline

Several fans on the Popular Side had climbed some popular trees at the back for a better view of the proceedings, (hence the name!) as the game was aboot to start and there where a couple watchin’ from a window of the neighbourin’ Leazes Terrace which owerlooked that part of the groond


Young kids were unceremoniously handed doon from the back of the terraces to the front by bein’ ‘passed ower’ the heeds of the crowd onto the cinder track at the front so they could get a better view

As the match was in progress ah hord a rattlin’ noise at the back of the terraces and torned aroond tih see the top of a huge three part ladder suddenly appear ower the back waall!.

A kidda’s heed then appeared ower the top of the ladder, as a ‘look out’ on the other side gave him the ‘aall clear’ (by stickin’ his fingers in hiz gob and whistlin’ twice!) The kidda then ‘bunked himsel ower’ the waall and scarpered intih the crowd, vanishin’ withoot trace!


He waz then followed by half a dozen more fans, frantically scramblin’ ower the waall tih gain their free admission! (sommik like ‘Escape from Colditz’!) (or in this case ‘Escape to St James’z’!) Then, an ‘eagle eyed’ ‘dibble’ spotted what was gannin on and ‘before yih knew it’ the ladder vanished just az quickly as it had appeared! He gave chase alang the back of the terraces, to a few more who had ‘escaped in’, haadin’ on tih his hat in the process, but he lost them in the crowd as they ‘did a runner’!, (Neva tih be seen again!) (And so for the ‘proper’ attendance read, 37,491! and not the one at the top of the page!) A great introduction tih ‘terrace life’ in ‘The Leazes’!


Another recollection of that day was the peanut seller dressed in a beige three qwaata length jacket and ‘Beetle crusher’ skeets on his ‘plates of meat’.

He was a lanky skinny gadgie with greasy combed back ‘Teddy Boy’ style hair who ‘skillfully’ threw bags of peanuts to individuals in the crowd with the accuracy of a professional darts player (but not before his punters had hoyed their tanner bits (2½p) onto the cinder track forst!) (he was’nt daft!) The amazin’ thing was he never missed! Even if the fans were standin’ at the back of the terraces


Oh yes!----aa nearly forgot aboot the match!----Mee momory’s a bit faded now (through old age and tooo much ale!) as it was a (very!) lang time ago, but aa can recaall that the Toon won two-nowt with ‘Cannonbaall’ Taylor and Barry Thomas scorin’ wor goals.

This was The Toon’s sixth game of the season, having won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1 (their most recent game, 1 – 0 away to Northampton Town). United were in sixth place when they welcomed table toppin’ Coventry City to Gallowgate.


Stan Anderson gave an ootstandin’ performance in midfield – a captain who led by example and he received excellent support from the tireless Trevor Hockey who finished the game covered with bumps and bruises but unbowed.

The Toon eventually opened the scoring seven minutes into the second half when Anderson brought the baall through in the left half position before squaring it to ‘Cannonbaall’ Taylor who let fly from fully 30 yards oot on the left wing. It flew like a rocket past half a dozen players as well as goalkeeper Wesson and ended up in the net. (So that’s why he was caalled ‘Cannonbaall’!)


The great Jackie Milburn was watching the game from the terraces (accordin’ to ‘The Jawnil’) and it must have brought back memories for him.

It was just after the hour mark that we increased wor lead. Hilley prodded the baall towards goal and Barrie Thomas went after it. Kearns, who was playing in the right back position, would have cleared off the line but Barrie collided into him as he put the baall into the net;

2 – 0.


The ref allowed the goal to stand despite the Coventry protests. He seemed to lecture every player on the field. He did more than lecture McGarry; he sent him off! for raisin’ his fists to Coventry midfielder Ron Farmer and then givin’ him the best right hand uppercut to his chin that any professional boxer would have been proud of as Farmer went doon like ‘a sack of tatties’!

(“Ah 1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9-10-OUT!”)


(McGarry was later nicknamed ‘Cassius’ after the heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay (aka: Mohammed Ali) because of the above incident-----and the name stuck!)

As the final whistle blew aa threw mee arms into the air in delight and was then ‘carried oot’ by the crowd as aa made mee way doon the Leazes stairs by liftin’ mee feet off the groond and with the pressure of the crowd from both sides, aa was (literally!) ‘shoehorned’ doon the stairs without touchin’ any of the steps! (this! is the way to travel---aa thought!)


It was then a mad dash to the Marlborough Crescent bus station (now the Centre for Life) to catch the bus yem and to eagerly wait for the Futbaall Pink seller to come doon wor street at aroond ‘six bells’ singin’ his ‘signature tune of: “FUTBAAAL FINIIIILLLL!”

‘UNITED IN PROMOTION FORM’ the ‘hot off the press’ headline screamed as the win lifted us up to fourth position.


Nuw how does that aad song gan again?

(To the tune of ‘I was born under a wandering star’)

I was born in The Leazes End!

I was bor-orrn in The Leee-zes End!

t’was a sunny day in September!

nineteen sixty four!

mee life sentence had started!

that’s for F******’ SURE!♫♫



This was aalso a great time tih become a supporter, as the Toon won the Old Second Division Championship at the end of that season!

Aa waz aalso telt later on that the ‘ladder method’ of gainin’ entry tih St James’ was’nt the anly one. Apparently one enterprizin’ gadgie with a battered high roofed removal van used tih park it against the Leazes End waall on matchday and charge kiddaz a shillin’ a time (5p) tih climb on top and sneak intih the groond! (Theeze days yi’d need a tower crane tih dee that!)


PS: It haz since been pointed oot to me by mee proof readers, namely, ‘Weeze Keys Clayton’ and ‘The Mad Professor’ that there are ne such trees as ‘popular’ trees!----they are in fact ‘poplar’ trees!---------my excuse is simple!----‘The History of British Trees and Shrubs at Major Football Grounds’ was neva one of mee favourite subjects at skoool and in any case the trees were very ‘popular’ with the fans for a great view of the pitch!

(So they were indeed ‘popular’ trees afta aall!)


PPS: Special thanx to ‘The Mad Professor’ who helped iz with the match report

(Like Rob’s---hiz memory’s a bit better than mine!)


©Fink(the mad-sad grundhpper!)