Pete Sixsmith praises a Citeh winner, deplores Mancini insults, wishes Roy Hodgson well and takes off his Top Hat to applaud a title-claiming performance at that North-eastern equivalent of the Etihad Stadium known as the Brewery Field …
Well, that’s it. The title race decided by a single goal in front of a large crowd and everything wrapped up. A lead at the top has been chipped away at the working end of the season and there are only a handful of meaningless games left.
So it was that Spennymoor Town clinched the STL Northern League Division One title at the Brewery Field last night, by beating fellow contenders Dunston UTS.
The goal came from former Sunderland junior Stephen Richardson, who followed up a long kick and waited for the Dunston defender to let it bounce, before heading it over the keeper and into the net.
There were three possible combinations for this game: if Dunston won, they could wrap up the title by winning at Sunderland RCA on Thursday; a draw would give the title to front runners West Auckland Town; a Spennymoor win would give them a hat trick of titles.
It was a game of contrasting styles. Spennymoor play an intricate passing game, not quite the tiki-taka so beloved of Barcelona, but a game that relies on possession and three sharp forwards. Dunston are much more direct, with the ball played forward quickly in the hope that Andy Bulford might get on the end of it.
The Moors dominated the first hour but Dunston came back strongly and the Spenny keeper made three outstanding saves that had the West Auckland committee men standing next to me shaking their heads in frustration.
At the end of the game, there was a friendly pitch invasion and the League President George (“Don’t worry Gary, we’ll finish this game if we have to stay until midnight”) Courtney presented the trophy to his home town team. The League Chairman was otherwise engaged playing dominoes, would you believe.
Meanwhile, 110 miles to the south west, the two Manchester clubs were locking horns (love that cliché) in the most hyped up game since the last most hyped up game. Newspapers were full of it on Friday, let alone Monday and it was as if no other game in the whole wide world mattered one jot.
I did a Likely Lads and managed to avoid the score. A friend stood near me with earphones was warned off to such an extent that we may never again exchange pleasantries in Pat Lee’s Barber’s Shop. The car radio was switched off in case I pressed the wrong button and on my return home the cat was told that any disclosure of the score would result in a severe reduction in his Felix allocation.
I put the TV on at 10.35 and sat down to watch the highlights of a game that, had it been played at the SoL on a Saturday, would have been in the bottom two of the Match of the Day running order and would have hardly merited a sneering quip from Lawro.
As the whole wide world knows, it was settled by a superb header from the excellent Vincent Kompany, a player that I have the utmost respect for. He is a very, very good centre half and comes across as a fine man: dignified, sensible, soft spoken and a winner. Maybe he fancies a new challenge in the North East?
Once again, Mancini spoilt it by saying that they had hard games and United had easy ones. It may have escaped his notice, but Swansea have beaten City this year and little ol’ Sunderland have taken four points – that’s right, four points – off the richest club in the world.
I know he is playing what are laughingly called “mind games” with Ferguson but when it gets to the stage that he is being so incredibly disrespectful to other clubs, somebody (Platt, Kidd, Noel Gallagher) should have a little word with him.
It could be that the final game is the one that decides the title. City have to win at the Cheap Sports Goods Arena, a task that may prove difficult for them – although if the Sports Shop Boys lose at Chelsea, they will be on a real downer.
As for the game at the SoL, I would “love it, just love it if they came to us and lost” as a former England manager once said.
On that topic, I am pleased to see that Roy Hodgson got the gig. He’s a better coach than Good ‘ol ‘Arry and I believe he is more inclined to work with HMRC. Best of luck, Roy; you are going to need it.