the real fa cup

Northern League

The early rounds of the FA Cup are a foreign country: they do things differently there.  On Saturday morning I’d stood in a doorway watching Jarrow Roofing’s matchday attire being transferred from a cardboard box into a holdall, bin liner and car boot as the South Tynesiders journeyed to Penrith.

After falling behind to the home side’s opening attack of the game, Roofing scored twice through Lewis Teasdale and John Campbell, an FA Trophy semi-finalist last season with Torquay United.  “We dominated the game,” thought Roofing’s manager, chairman, treasurer, main sponsor and groundsman Richie McLoughlin, possibly the oldest outfield player to appear in the competition after completing the full 90 minutes as a fifty-something against Bootle in 1999.

On Sunday afternoon, Whickham and Padiham – each just 13 wins from the final or 12 from Wembley now the semis are played there to help the national stadium balance its books – kicked off a game switched to suit the schedule of the local cricket club and not BT Sport.  “We offered them Friday night or Sunday,” a Whickham official explained. “The cricketers are at home to Alnwick on the Saturday afternoon.”

Padiham had reached the third round proper in 1883-84 but arrived on Tyneside with a more modest recent record, making early exits to Northern League sides in each of the past two years.   The Tynesiders couldn’t make a third, Padiham goals either side of half-time enough for a 2-1 win and a trip to Silsden in the next round.  Thornaby were another whose fixture came second to the summer game, their Sunday ending in the disappointment of a 4-0 rout at Pickering Town.

Elsewhere, it was a productive afternoon for Dunston UTS, who made it 18 goals in their opening three matches with a 6-0 win at Crook Town.  Newcastle Benfield defeated  Yorkshire Amateur 4-2, while Washington won 2-1 at AFC Darwen and Newton Aycliffe returned from another North West Counties Premier League team, Nelson,  with a 4-0 victory. “The result flattered us a little bit,” boss Peter Dixon admitted. Dixon’s former side, West Auckland Town, drew 1-1 at Bedlington Terriers, who made the second round proper in 1998.

In the Durham derby, a last-minute equaliser kept table-toppers Shildon – the last Northern League team to make the first round proper in 2003-04 – in the competition in front of a crowd of 529 at Bishop Auckland. “The game should have been over at half-time,” Bishops’ manager David Bayles told the Northern Echo, “we didn’t get our rewards.”

Guisborough Town were leading 4-2 at Sunderland RCA with 77 minutes played before finally conceding a 90th minute leveller to Stephen Callen.  Steve Harmison’s Ashington also needed a late, late goal to pull Albion Sports back to 2-2, second division Billingham Synthonia held highly-fancied Consett, and last season’s Division Two champions Seaham Red Star gave up a 2-0 half-time lead to title-winners Marske.  “The draw feels like a defeat,” Red Star manager Mark Collingwood explained to the Echo, “but we’ll give it our best shot again in the replay”.

Whitley Bay, trailing at the break, levelled with nine minutes to spare at home to Ryhope Colliery Welfare, the mistakenly reporting Bay’s progress by a single goal after extra-time.

Ninth in last season’s Northern League Division Two, Heaton Stannington’s first FA Cup game since 1976-77 attracted over 200 spectators and ended in a 3-1 win against first division Norton and Stockton Ancients, who dismissed their manager, Adam Rundle, after just three games in charge.  “It wasn’t working out … the man management wasn’t what I wanted,” said Norton chairman Mike Mulligan. “What a day,” tweeted Heaton captain Joe Wear.  “I scored, gave a penalty away, the lads got stuck in and into the next round we go.” [Some excellent photos here by @NE6Photos]

FA Vase holders North Shields went through 2-0 at Bridlington, while Morpeth scored four first-half goals to beat Garforth, the former club of Socrates, Lee Sharpe and Careca.

Back among the Northern League’s losing sides, Hebburn Town went out 3-1 at home to Tadcaster Albion, Durham City exited by the same scoreline to Thackley and Silsden saw off struggling West Allotment Celtic 2-1. “I was shocked and disappointed,” Durham’s Ian Chandler said.  As ever, there’ll be plenty more of both emotions before the preliminary rounds are through.

Words: Michael Hudson
Michael’s blog The Accidental Groundhopper rocks hard. Catch him on Twitter at Dolphin Hotel.

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