Soapbox: disillusioned with the Premier, enthralled by Curzon Ashton and Durham

For most of us, international breaks and cup weekends (when we’re long gone from any cups) are a bore. For Pete Sixsmith, they just mean more chances to catch proper football at grass roots level, as well as taking a Rugby League man’s passing swipe at the Rugby Union so beloved of M Salut’s brother, a ref and former player …


There are
some sports that I really don’t like. Rugby Union is the prime example: all those lantern jawed, public school types, banging and crashing around and sticking their heads up each other’s bottoms. Ugh. For me, an afternoon at a Rugby Union game would be almost as bad as a day at a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

I don’t see the point in machines chasing each other round a track. Men and women on the backs of animals, yes, but men and women sat in a machine, no. It’s a recipe for noisy boredom at Sixsmith Towers.

It seems the vertically challenged owner of Formula1, Bernie Ecclestone also finds the “sport” a tad boring as I read yesterday that he was considering watering tracks to make them more slippery, thus ensuring a more enjoyable and thrilling race. It may mean more casualties, but what the hell.

So, it got me thinking about what we could do to beef up the matchday experience at the Stadium of Light. That’s been a bit flat recently seeing as we have only won one of our last six home games as we hit the traditional post-Christmas slump.

Here, then, are a few ideas for Ellis, Niall and our creative chums at the FA to consider. Who knows? It might just make our occasional Saturday visits to the SoL more entertaining.

* Let’s do what Bishop Auckland have done at their new stadium and lay rolls of turf at different levels from the one next to it. This would mean that there would be a gradient running from the East Stand to the West Stand; much more fun watching a grafting midfield player slogging uphill as he attempted to move the ball sideways. Might encourage one or two of ours to get it forward a wee bit quicker.

* Place an electronic cell around the penalty area that will emit a whining sound whenever someone sets foot in it. That would help the referee and his assistants to get it right if there is a doubtful call. They could turn it off when Liverpool play at the SoL because their players’ whining would drown it out.

* Have a huge inflatable referee at either end who could signify by a nod or shake of the head whether it is a corner, a goal kick, or a totally incomprehensible decision given to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool – the Big 4 so beloved by fans throughout the nation. If no large inflatable’s are available, they could use Lee Probert.

* Have a power play situation, where a player is removed from the pitch and is not allowed to return until one of his team mates scores. That would eliminate the pointless sendings off that John Mensah, Michael Turner and Kenwyne Jones have suffered in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, with our current scoring reord we would consistently play with 10 men.

If you are thinking that I sound just a tiny bit disillusioned with the FA Premier League, you are just a tiny bit right. Sunday was a bitterly disappointing day, where one poor team overcame another thanks to some ludicrous refereeing decisions. The rescinding of Mensah’s red card was a real slap in the face for Messrs Friend and Smallwood, who should not be seen at a Premier League ground near you for quite a while.

Unfortunately, they may be sent to weave their own particular brand of disaster management down in the lower leagues, which would be a great shame for those hardy spectators who frequent the Evo Stick Northern Premier, STL Northern League and the many others that make up our pyramid system.

I saw a good referee and a cracking game at Durham City last night. Curzon Ashton, from Greater Manchester were the visitors and came north in a splendid luxury coach. They are pushing for a play-off place and obviously subscribe to the view that happy players are successful players.

They had an outstanding one in Phil Edghill. He is a tall, rangy midfield player who ran the centre of the park after his colleague James Ogoo had been sent off for a poor two-footed challenge. To his credit, Ogoo did not remonstrate and went straight away. It left Edghill to try and keep Curzon’s midfield on top. It wasn’t his fault that a former Sunderland reserve David Dowson rattled in a splendid equaliser.

Edghill is a PE Teacher, so I presume he had done a hard day with his students in a Manchester school, caught the bus, sat for 2 hours, run his nuts off for 90 minutes and then slept on the bus home before returning to work this morning. Most of the other players on the field would have done something similar.

Edghill’s brother was Richard Edghill, a contemporary of Jeff Whitley’s at Manchester City and a target for the Maine Road boo boys if my memory serves me correctly.

Now, City fans no longer have the likes of Edghill and Whitley to enjoy cheap laughs at – they can have extremely expensive ones at the likes of the increasingly absurd Mario Balotelli and the North West’s equivalent of Rod Belfitt, Erwin Dzeko.

But back to Durham. It was all good fun, enough to make up a little for Sunday’s letdown. Just don’t let Jamie Carragher and Kevin Friend anywhere near the Evo-Stik First Division North league.

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7 thoughts on “Soapbox: disillusioned with the Premier, enthralled by Curzon Ashton and Durham”

  1. The danger is Sobs that he may turn out to be the new Tony Ford. Wouldn’t that be something?
    I agree with Birflatt Boy, I do get that vibe when watching him …

  2. Hallo Pete. Seeing as Colin mentioned me in his preamble I think it falls on me to respond to your cheap shot at Rugby Union. I categorise myself as a sports lover, although I do tend to mirror your views on Formula 1, so I won’t respond by highlighting the cheating and posturing that is modern football.

    Instead, I’ll take exception to your archaic description of “public school types” playing the game. Tell that to the 400 or so 6-17 year olds who attend my small club in South London every Sunday throughout the winter. I don’t think that many of them could tell you what constitutes a public school, let alone attend one.

    No, take off your blinkers Pete and try watching my game with an open mind. Rugby Union encompasses a balance of skill, power and strategy to produce a sport that, I believe, ticks every box.

    Oh, and I very much hope that the lads record a win or two in the near future to secure Premiership football for another year. Despite my allegiance to rugby, I still consider myself a Sunderland fan.

  3. The danger is Sobs that he may turn out to be the new Tony Ford. Wouldn’t that be something?

  4. one of the good things about terrace banter at Northern League level is that the players can hear it and the managers can hear it. Some of them even have a visible giggle at it.

    As for Rod Belfitt, we should all remember that goal he scored in the snow at Blackpool. Let’s hope he was a better draughtsman that he was a footballer, as that’s what he did before and after being a pro. Contrary to suggestions, Fraizer Campbell is NOT the new Rod Belfitt

  5. H’way John. Are you seriously suggesting that anyone who ever saw Rod Belfitt play could ever forget him?

  6. Pete, seriously worried about any one who remembers Rod Belfitt. Is my memory correct and he got marginally better when he played in the centre of defence ?

  7. Brilliant read Pete. Rugby Union and Formula 1 do exactly the same to me. I think we might need an electronic “dog fence” around the box for the Man City game.

    I wonder if the Citizens (that’s what they call them these days, of course. Back in the day they just used to be good old Man City), ever yearn for players that would make them laugh. Some of the current crop would only make them cringe as they consider the (tens of) millions that have been spent on the players you mention. The likes of Balotelli and Dzeko create the impression that they have become ancillary staff at an international bankers, rather than a football club, as football seems to have little interest to either of them. The former is clearly even further up his own posterior than one of the second row forwards would be to the loose head prop referred to in your article.

    I always appreciate your articles, even though they will never overshadow your spontaneous wit from your pulpit in the Clock Stand Paddock.

    Twenty and thirty years on, I still find myself chuckling at the crack we had down there. (Zeko and Rod Belfitt!!! Heh Heh!)

    Not having the privilege of terrace humour at non-league grounds in this side of the pond, do you find that the terrace humour is still alive and well these days Peter?

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