Bridlington Town v Northallerton Town (Sat 30th August 3pm)
Scarborough Athletic v North Shields (Sunday 31st August 3pm)
As the new football season swung into action I watched from Madeira, online and on TV. They love their football over there. They have two teams in Portugal’s Primeira Liga and one in the Segunda Liga.
They also have shop shelves crammed with trinkets celebrating local legend Cristiano Ronaldo. His own boutique, CR7, is on the route for many of the taxi tours which start in the island’s capital, Funchal.
All three teams had matches during my fortnight on the island which Winston Churchill is said to have toured in a Rolls Royce with the boot converted into a bar. SC Farense even stayed in our hotel on the night before their second tier game against União da Madeira.
But unfortunately I missed out, and the closest I got to the one game I really fancied – CD Nacional bidding to overturn a 2–0 deficit against Dinamo Minsk in the Europa League – was watching the Belarus side land as we prepared to take off.
But anyway my attentions were elsewhere, on the start of the English league season, and the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. The nearby, archetypal European beer and football pub ensured that the professional game was, as ever, easier to follow than the first contests of this year’s road to Wembley but a decent internet service left only two questions – how did Churchill manage in his day, and how on earth did Bridlington Town beat Whitley Bay?
The stats say they did it with an equaliser from Chris Adams in the home tie before Ombeni Ruhanduka struck a 90th minute winner in the replay. Club Chairman Pete Smurthwaite hints at a superstitious streak when he suggests that coverage by The Real FA Cup may have brought them a touch of good fortune (Ed – Yay us!).
Can lightning strike twice? We’ll find out on Saturday when Bridlington Town welcome Northallerton Town in the Preliminary Round.
And there’s more, because on Sunday Bridlington Town’s tenants, Scarborough Athletic, enter the tournament with a home tie against North Shields.
It is in all likelihood – I’ve been away so haven’t had time to check properly – the first FA Cup double-header at the same venue since last season’s semi-finals. (Ed – sadly, no, it isn’t, Staines Lammas and Ashford Town did it in the last round) And it will probably be the last until this season’s final four head to north London.
So welcome to Queensgate or, as Pete and his pals might like to call it, the Wembley of the north. I went to the second match of that semi-final double-header weekend and I intend to be at the first game this weekend. The tickets will be cheaper, the beer will be better and the haddock and chips will be traceable to a chap in a boat down at the harbour.
Picture: Matthew Ascough
Words: Phil Ascough whose new book, ‘Never Mind The Tigers – The Ultimate Hull City Quiz Book’, is published by The History Press and available now.