Non League Club

Onwards towards Whitehaven

Posted in Uncategorized by stuartnoel on March 14, 2012

We are not shy about extolling the virtues and pleasures about Non League football, and our merry band of writers are plucked from like minded people.  One such star is Andy Hudson, the editor of ganninaway and a champion of the Northern League.  Andy approached me a couple of weeks ago with an idea.  “Stu….what about I ask to travel to an away game on a team coach…will that make a good read?”  We, of course, said yes and below is the story of a day on the road with Hebburn Town.  Over to you Andy.

The bus pulls into the Hebburn Sports and Social Ground to be met by the committee team of chairman Billy Laffy; secretary Tom Derrick; treasurer John Bolam, who is off to the Sunderland game later but helping to sort the kits out first; Paul Hill; and “kit man, press officer, floodlight operator and rubbish picker-upper” Alan Armstrong. There are no players in sight as the clock ticks past the scheduled departure time, only for John Toomey, Liam McBryde and Calum Charlton to hurry on board offering apologies for the delay: “I’ve had to work with me da this morning,” pants Charlton, “and I’ve had me tracksuit on since half six!” A large bag of Haribo mix emerges from Toomey’s pocket as McBryde, scorer of 35 goals in 33 appearances already this season talks about “how bloody lucky Newcastle were you to get a point against us last week”. With three quarters of the Sunderland based contingent on board, Lee Harrison is still at work and having to follow the team bus over once he finishes his post round, the bus heads off through the Tyne Tunnel for the next pick-up spot.

A shout comes from the front of the bus telling the lads that “there’s nee solids allowed in the toilet; pissing only!” and we swing into a hotel car park where a few players clamber on board. We sit waiting for the Killingworth lads who are running late. The players on board wander off in search of a shop, returning ten minutes later to find Dean Nicholson complaining of having “had no sleep at all last night, man; I’m fuckin’ knackered,” while ‘keeper Dan Regan, who had finished his shift in one of the pubs popular with the Geordie Shore wannabes only a few short hours earlier, looks confused when he’s given a new polo shirt in XXL size: “Are you sure this is mine? It’s massive, man,” he asks, receiving the reply: “Aye, well I think so. Bolam just told me to give it to Dan…does he mean Kirkup?”

Bennett, left, and Nicholson, right, watch their team

“I’m 37-years-old and I’ve been sitting at a bus stop for over half-an-hour,” manager Paul Bennett jokes as he falls back in a seat when we eventually arrive for him. “Benno, have ye seen this picture of Calum when he was five?””Hey, it’s Harry Potter there!” Having dragged ironing boards to Alnwick Town and plants to Gateshead, today every player has to have a childhood photo with them to avoid a £5 fine towards the players’ pool. (more…)