They say we all need a certain amount of stress in our lives and since taking my occupational pension and leaving the daily grind behind, mine has come from misbehaving computer hardware and the pressures of deputising for M. Salut when he is otherwise engaged. Last night was no exception. There I was, just about to leave The Brewery Field in Spenny with my headline sorted. “Moors the Merrier” would I felt reflect the respective emotions of the two teams who looked to be battling to a goalless draw. Then what happens? We only go and score with hardly time for the restart and just too late for me to make it back in time for the start of the pub quiz at The Red Lion. It’s a hard life! Read Sixer’s take on the game below.
The Ebac Northern League First Division is widely regarded as the strongest Step 5 League in the national pyramid. The FA Vase has been won by Whitley Bay and Dunston in the last four seasons and last year, the two finalists came from the league for the first time in its history.
Spennymoor Town have been champions for the last three seasons and are favourites to do so again. They were to prove fitting opponents for Bally’s Boys at the Brewery Field last night.
Spennymoor have a long and proud history. As Spennymoor United, they were members of the North Eastern League for many years, before joining the Midland League in the late 1950’s. They then moved into the Northern League in the early 60’s and were one of the strongest teams in it throughout.
In the 1970’s they reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, before losing to Leatherhead, Chris Kelly and all, and then, in the 90’s, becoming members of the Northern Counties East League before progressing up the Pyramid to become long standing members of the Northern Premier League top division.
Their demise, due to a controversial owner, was swift and they “merged” with Evenwood Town to form the current club in 2005, since when it has been success all of the way. Under current manager Jason Ainsley, they have a squad that could probably hold its own in the Conference North and they are looking at progressing through the pyramid once ground improvements have been completed.
They turned out what was not far off their best side, a number of them with SAFC connections. Keith Graydon, Lewis Dodds, Stephen Richardson had all been on the books at some stage and have gone on to be outstanding non-league players.
Bally’s Boys were very different from the team that trounced Newton Aycliffe. There were five who had been in South Korea with the Big Lads – Pickford, Laing, Knott, Reed and Deacon, plus a French trialist in Armand Diallou, who played the first half, but who did little to impress.
The Korean veterans found it hard going and there was clear evidence of jet lag as tired legs toiled up the Brewery Field slope. They were put under pressure by a hard and committed Spennymoor team, whose first competitive game is an FA Cup tie against Scarborough Athletic on the 11th.August. Most teams at this level will have played a Cup tie before their league seasons begin.
Jordan Pickford made two outstanding saves in the first half as well as dropping a couple of crosses, something he had done in his loan spell at Darlington last season, and apart from an Alex Gorrin shot, we were reduced to shooting from outside the box. Billy Knott tried to get things going and showed some nice touches, but I defy anyone to be at their best after a 10 hour flight across x number of time zones.
In the second half, the home team spurned a number of chances, with Ben Wilson (another Korean tourist) saving well on a couple of occasions. Gorrin was in the game a lot more and his neat passing almost opened Moors up. He finally did for them in the 89th.minute with a thumping shot from outside the box to give us a rather fortunate win.
It was a good work out against a strong side who tackled firmly but fairly and which, once again, looks to be the team to beat in the Northern League. Tenerife born Gorrin was our most impressive player and left back Anthony Callaghan looked composed throughout. Forwards Adam Mitchell and Jordan Laidler found the Spennymoor defenders a much tougher proposition than those at Aycliffe on Friday and both should have learned a lot from this outing. These young players would benefit from regular games against decent NL sides – let’s have them at Shildon, Hebburn, Durham City etc .
Spennymoor went bust and started again a few years ago, something which Portsmouth may well replicate in the next few weeks. Their situation looks desperate and, unless payers walk away from their contracts (contracts which they did not force the club to offer them), the Pompey Chimes may well be ringing out around the Wessex League in 2013-14.
Many clubs must be looking at this sorry situation and saying “We will learn from this”, but as long as insane money is being thrown around by the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris SG, clubs like ours will be under more and more pressure to compete.
We have reduced our wage bill considerably over the summer. Big earners in Gordon, McCartney, Angeleri and Bendtner have left. Turner is on his way to Norwich and I believe that others will move on before the end of the window.
Short and O’Neill are preaching the message of fiscal responsibility and appear to be reluctant to pay over the odds for players who are not quite top class. Some fans are moaning that we are not active enough in the market and that we need lots of new players. Maybe we do, but as a club we have invested a lot of money in the Academy over the years, with relatively modest returns. This could be the year that the likes of John Egan, Craig Lynch, Blair Adams, Ryan Noble and Billy Knott make a real impression, build careers for themselves and save the club a fortune. Over the years we have spent large amounts of money on mediocrity – maybe we will see that home grown is best after all.