Sixer Says: three cheers for the England international break

A Sixer deprived of SAFC is not a Sixer deprived of football
A Sixer deprived of SAFC is not a Sixer deprived of football

Pete Sixsmith makes no secret of his love for the non-league game and, indeed, for the oval ball (provided it’s played to the RL code), the corker and stumps, the (formerly) doped-up Tourists de France and – for all we know – tiddlywinks {again, RL code only). You, too, could enter this world of honest endeavour. Here’s how …

Here we are on the first of two international breaks before Christmas. The league programme is suspended for two weeks, enabling players to join their international squads for a series of friendlies and European Championship qualifiers.

For the likes of me, that’s fine. On Saturday I can take in Durham’s Royal London Cup semi-final with Nottinghamshire and then nip out at 2.45 to watch Chester le Street Town play Knaresborough Town in the FA Vase. For a sport-mad child like me, it’s a perfect day – and far better than drinking sangria in the park or feeding animals in the zoo.

Many readers of this column may find themselves at a loose end. I can only suggest that they get down and boogie with their local non-league team.

Here in the North East, you could watch Consett’s clash with Bradford based Thackley, a suburb of Bradford close to Idle, where there really is the Idle Workingmen’s Club. Or, you could see the all-Northern League tie between Jarrow Roofing and Ryhope CW. Both teams were scoring goals for fun last week. The Roofers drew 4-4 at Bishop Auckland in the FA Cup last weekend before losing the replay 4-3 after extra time, while Ryhope beat Northallerton Town 6-5 on Wednesday. So that will be a 0-0 then.

There are some decent games in the Northern League as well. Shildon are at home to Newcastle Benfield, who won 4-0 at Kendal on Wednesday night in an FA Cup replay. Dean Street is where Monsieur Salut and I cut our teeth as football fans, standing on the corner of Dean and Primitive selling programmes to the horny-handed sons of toil as they finished their shift at the Wagon Works via Old Shildon Club, The Dun Cow and The Red Lion.

Shildon were tipped as title contenders this season, but the start of the season has been a little understated, culminating in a 1-0 defeat at Guisborough on Wednesday night. However, progress has been maintained in the FA Cup and they have a home tie with Whitby Town who are managed by Darren Williams, the fist-pumping, hand-clapping hero of (too) many years ago.

If you fancy a higher league, Blyth Spartans are at home to Buxton, that most genteel of spa towns. Bucks supporters who come expecting fizzy water and a rub down in a Turkish bath in Blyth, may well be disappointed – although I am sure there may be institutions in the docks that offer similar facilities.

Spennymoor Town face Salford City, a team that are currently being bankrolled by The Class of ’92 minus David Beckham. Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Ryan Giggs bought the club earlier this year and have embarked on a gradual programme to lift Salford up the pyramid. Four wins out of four start has given them a decent base to work on, while Spennymoor are sitting comfortably in seventh place. Not a bad place to spend a free Saturday.

Of course, the world of non-league football is very different from the rarefied atmosphere of the Premier. Players are technically less competent (although I sometimes wonder when Jozy is on the ball) but they make up for it with a super abundance of running and shouting.

Comments can be heard clearly and referees are subject to some fearful tongue-lashings from players who do not know the laws of the game. Example; Darlington v Kendal Town last month; a Kendal player had blood on his shirt and was told he had to change it. He decided to walk across the pitch rather than round it and called the referee a “f****** p***” when he politely told him that he couldn’t do that. Seeing as a full main stand heard it, the young ref had no option but to red card him. This was three minutes into the game. The Cumbrians lost another player for a foul five minutes later and lost 7-0.

So, rather than watch Jeff Stelling and his pack of 12-year-olds trying to get excited about Peterborough v Port Vale or Exeter v Mansfield, give your local non-league team a go. You might just enjoy it. [I STILL like the old moneyhanger Stelling – Ed]


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6 thoughts on “Sixer Says: three cheers for the England international break”

  1. Well said. The World Cup was enough international football for me for a very long time. Give me the PL ant time [ or indeed the Championship if we happen to be in it ]

  2. A break from it. Bloody hell! You lot have weak stomachs!

    Three weeks in and you want a break. We’ve months of this rubbish lying ahead yet.

    Got some proper football this weekend watching my son play tomorrow and Sunday.

  3. After catching a game on Saturday you could all come down and cheer me on in the Great North Run on Sunday !!!

    I have a red vest with black shorts… along with a tin hat and flack jacket……

    • Just make sure you finish in front of anyone in black n white or anyone dressed up as a Zebra , can’t take any chances ! Only joking , good luck to everyone taking part !

  4. Just a break from the hysteria of the Premier League is a blessing and following on from the hyper hysteria of the transfer splurge, a double blessing.

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