Bielefeld v Sunderland (0-0 at half time; send your own updates as comments) is under way and it seems impossible to think: a pre-season tour, near or far, without the presence of Pete Sixmsith. Unless, that is, you count Consett …
If you are expecting my usual insightful views on European life as we begin our German-based pre season, I have to disappoint you.
With the school term not ending until Thursday (we get to finish a day early to make up for losing a Bank Holiday on Royal Wedding Day), I am unable to pass on my thoughts about Bielefeld, Hannover, Hamlein or the Rhur Valley.
I could have made it to MoenchenGladbach for Saturday’s game, but I have an important date at Stalybridge Railway Station that I cannot break, so no early views of Seb Larsson, Connor Wickham or Ji Dong-Won. I’m sure that there will be plenty of press coverage although it may not be as extensive as that accorded to our Tyneside friends after their escapades in Darlington on Friday night.
What I can do is to give you a view on a very young reserve side that won 2-1 at Consett’s Belle Vue ground on Saturday afternoon, a game that started in torrential rain and ended in that awful drizzly stuff that has spoiled many a Sixsmith family seaside holiday at Filey in the 50s and 60s.
Consett is an interesting place. I first visited it in the early 1960s with my father. I had never seen anywhere like it – red houses, red pubs, red everything from the dust thrown out by the steelworks that sat in the middle of the town. It was a truly fabulous site as we passed under huge pipes that connected one part of the plant to another.
A few years later in December 1970, I went with him to collect a Vauxhall Viva from Morton’s Garage and rubbed my eyes at the sight of red snow on the ground. The difficult trip home was made bearable as Sports Report told us that Dave Watson had scored his first goal for Sunderland to equalise at Vicarage Road and earn us a draw. How did we cope without local radio in the deep and distant past?
The steelworks are long gone and the only Red Dust you see is the beer of the same name brewed by the Consett Beer Company, sold in their Brewery Tap, the excellent Grey Horse. It’s a rather feisty 4.5 beer, so I settled for the gentler Foundry Bitter and a read of The Guardian – and very nice it was.
The pub is a two-minute walk from Belle Vue, Consett’s home ground since 1950. We opened it for them in front of their record crowd of 7,000 and were frequent visitors in the old North Eastern League.
Their excellent programme charted some recent and less recent friendly encounters, including such rarities as a Tom Peeters hat trick, a Carsten Fredgaard goal and Shack and Eddie Burbanks turning out to torment defenders.
No such big names in Saturday’s team, which consisted of young players, all under the age of 20, with only Adam Reed and Craig Lynch having any first team experience. The interest of this scribe was focused on Roarie Deacon, a midfielder given a 12-month contract after his release from Arsenal – presumably for not being fluent enough in French.
He looked a prospect – strong on the ball with an eye for a good pass and he scored what turned out to be the winning goal, albeit with the help of the post and a Consett defender.
Throughout, he was looking to play his colleagues in, and you could see his Arsenal pedigree, even down to his desire to take an extra touch to score after he latched onto a Craig Lynch shot that had bounced back from the crossbar. In true Wenger style, he wanted the perfect touch instead of just stroking it in.
Other players who caught the eye were goalkeeper Ben Wilson, who made a brilliant save to prevent an equaliser and who handled impressively throughout and James Armstrong (son of Gordon) who looked strong and full of running. Lynch looked dangerous in the second half, hit the bar twice and saw Consett’s keeper Peter Jefferson foil him with an excellent save.
It was a most enjoyable game, played in an excellent spirit. I watch a lot of Northern League football and I know that any team managed by Kenny Lindoe will give you a good, fair game.
He is a true football man and could always be seen watching a game when the teams he managed Consett, Shildon, Brandon) were not playing. He had a heart attack in March and subsequently underwent a triple by pass but he looked well on Saturday and his team looked in good nick. They have re-signed Michael Mackay after his stint at Hartlepool and he looked useful up front with former Newcastle trainee Marc Walton, who opened the scoring for them. Adam Reed levelled from the spot.
This is their last season at Belle Vue as the site is being taken over by Durham County Council for the new Consett Academy. They have detailed plans for their new ground which will have a 3G surface and they should be in their some time in 2011. It would be nice to think that we could open it for them, but there may not be 7,000 present this time.