On Tuesday evening I made the short drive up the M23 around the M25 on route to Wheatsheaf Stadium home of Staines Town FC.
Burgess Hill Town FC were looking to maintain their excellent run of 3 unbeaten Ryman Premier league games. The hosts in fine fettle after a good win in the FA Cup.
For once the roads were like a dream and within an hour the journey was done. Staines benefit from Chelsea ladies using their stadium, there is a cracking main stand with bar facilities that wouldn’t be out of place in the football league. The other side has neat fully covered terracing all the way down, the lights very good. The circa 25 Hillian fans, of a crowd of 175, would have enjoyed their evening.
After a bright start Hill took the lead through goal machine Pat Harding, a sweetly struck shot past a static keeper. That signalled a wake call from Staines as they battered us for the next hour. They just seemed to have a natural pass and move rhythm which had the Hill midfield chasing shadows for much of the time. Two excellently taken goals after the break gave them what seemed a winning advantage. However Chappers would have been very proud that his team stuck to their task as sub Phil Johnson nodded home, from an inch, to secure a well deserved point. Two youngsters deserve a lot of credit on the night. Dan Perry worked his socks off as the lone striker and Will Miles in defence just goes from strength to strength. The club are quietly adjusting nicely to their new surroundings and with 21 Ryman League points in the bag that’s a very satisfactory start.
Meanwhile my quest of completing the 92 Club took a huge boost over last weekend when Bryan John and I made a road trip up to the North East. As is becoming the norm this season it was an early start leaving Mid Sussex at 7.30am in Bryan’s Ford Focus. No drama’s through out the journey but there was an almighty hold up in trying to get across the famous old Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. It just seemed as though the lights were out of sequence as it took an hour to complete half a mile. Anyone familiar with Newcastle will understand that the mood is ‘manic’ on Saturday home games. With St James Park being a stones throw from the main drag its busy and loud but intoxicating. We got lucky with some brilliant padded seats high up in the Milburn Stand virtually on the half way line.
Chelsea fans up in the gods behind one goal the Gallowgate End in full cry at the other. Then ensued what can only be described as pure theatre as the relegation candidates Toon went two nil up on the hour mark. St James rocking !. My mate John , a staunch blue, face like thunder. However Ramires produced a thunderbolt from 25 yards to half the deficit. With Newcastle legs going Jose made two great subs and got his reward when William equalised direct from a free kick. Points shared in a very entertaining game. Great stadium and an unforgettable experience.
Big night out getting to bed around 3am.
On Sunday morning, in glorious Autumn sunshine, we made the short drive south to Middlesbrough on Teesside. The Riverside awaiting to host Leeds United in the lunch time Championship game. Its surrounding area is quite nice on the eye with a huge ‘butterfly net’ modern art instillation and monster ship moored up in the dock next door. Trust me there is a lot to take in. The new build Stadium (1996) is functional with a capacity of 30,000. We were housed in the upper East Stand again on the half way line. Thousands of Leeds fans two blocks to our left.
The hosts then went on to secure a flattering three nil win and in turn getting with in one point of Brighton at the top. Leeds will bemoan a spectacular own goal by one centre back and an embarrassing slip by the other one late on. It just wasn’t their day. Another good experience came to a close when safely arriving back in Mid Sussex at 10 pm. The old Focus not missing a beat. There are now only 10 League grounds left to cover.
Costs week end tickets £70, travel £30, accommodation £30 ‘refreshments’ £70, midweek £20,
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