Seaton Carew – Jarrow FC (Malcolm Stephenson)

Seaton Carew 2 Jarrow FC 3.

I was not able to get to the Blyth game at Buxton so I managed to find a match and a ground I had not been to before. I told the wife I was not going to see Blyth Spartans today and she is now at the point of just accepting I will be going to a match somewhere in the afternoon. She is that well trained now as there is not a single murmur of discontent and there never is any ‘huffy head‘ as I leave the house. One nil to me before a ball is even kicked.

After 40 years of ground hopping its always pleasant to find a place fairly local that you can go to for a match and a see a new ground at the same time. Today it was Seaton Carew which is just south of Hartlepool. Its an easy jaunt down the A19 and then you go through Hartlepool. I passed their ground (Pools) and recollected the famous Spartans victory just a couple of months ago in the FA cup.

I have actually been to Hornby Park before although last time when I got there, there was not a match on. Instead they were playing at Greyfields in Hartlepool while their ground was being refurbished. The grounds is an amalgamation of Football, cricket and Rugby pitches. It has one block of changing rooms, function area etc, serving all three sports.

Today was a two O’clock kick off as they no floodlights. From the changing areas players had to skirt around the cricket pitch, cross another field before getting to the football pitch. The pitch is surrounded by a 6 foot green metal grill. Technically you could watch the match and not pay to get in. My theory though was that you would get a bit goggle eyed after a short while. I later put this theory to the test and proved myself correct. If you did happen to watch the game through the fence I think you would end up with a squint like Marty Feldman.

At the admission gate was a man collecting entrance fees. The red cushioned former barstool (complete with a hole in the top cover) sitting next to him served as a table top for his cashbox and match day programmes. Yes that’s right, a programme. I was not expecting this so it was a tremendous bonus to me. Any ground hopper will tell you that’s its not the same without a programme. It made my day having two sheets of A4 stapled together creating 8 pages of reading. There was even colour in the programme as well. Two pounds to get in and one for the programme is a bargain in my eyes. The ground has some hard standing the whole length of the pitch on the same side as the dugouts. There are no covers to shelter anyone from the elements if it turned nasty weather wise..

Seaton Carew were only founded in 1998 and joined the Wearside league in 2012. Amazingly the club runs 24 teams covering all age levels.

Today’s visitors were Jarrow FC who seem to have been around since 1980 and two years ago merged with Harton and Westoe. That’s according to the clubs website however on checking the football database a club of the same name has been around since 1894. If someone can enlighten me better on historical information please feel free.

Last season Seaton Carew finished 7th top but this time around have struggled and are 15th in the table. Jarrow are two places below them. Seaton were looking for their first win on home territory since Mid September so would be keen to put to bed that unwanted record. Recently Seaton were at Cleater Moor Celtic for a game and got thumped 11-0. They were short of players that match. The manager and even the club treasurer were drafted in that day. That’s dedication and real football for you.

Seaton were playing in black and white stripes. Jarrow were in claret and blue. It was a bit like Newcastle United versus West Ham. Or Juventus v Burnley which is possibly never going to happen.

Quickly the away team settled down into domineering the match. It was no surprise when they took a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first half. Seaton Carew managed to pull a goal back before half time. Half time came and there was no time to trip back to the changing rooms as it would have taken up too much time. Like a Sunday match the players had their drinks and ‘Pep’ talks by the touchline.

Sadly there were only about 12 paying customers at the game. It never ceases to amaze how clubs at this level survive. This is football at the lower levels of the Pyramid system but to me its football at its best. People behind the scenes working as tirelessly off the field as the players on it. The home team players did not get paid as far as I know. Probably the same for Jarrow. Lads working 5 days a week who look forward to their football playing fix each Saturday. Another chance to challenge themselves as individuals and each other working as a team. These are lads playing for the love of the game. The clubs sponsor, whoever they are, enable the club to keep going. Thank goodness sponsors are not just for Premier league clubs.

The second half kicked off and Seaton Carew were determined to get back into the match. Thy huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down.. Possession was matched 50-50 by now. I decided to perch myself on the barstool by the admission gate.. I had to check it first to see it was not soaking wet but it was perfectly dry for me to sit down on. Luckily when I sat down nothing jumped expectantly out of the hole in the top cover.

At one point I retrieved the ball for the Jarrow keeper. He noticed my Blyth Spartans jacket and said I was a long way from home. He also wondered if Blyth were not playing today. I explained I could not go today to which he informed me that he was Spartans, Stephan Turnbull’s cousin. It’s a small world.

I got talking to a fellow ground hopper who I had not met before. His name was Brian Buck and has been in the Daily Mirror before. I am a keen ground hopper but this bloke took things to a new level. He had been to over 3,000 grounds for games and had attended 11,500 matches in his time. Oddly though he had not completed every Football league ground. There were 5 new grounds he had not been to (eg, Stoke and Swansea City etc) and he had never visited Preston North End. For a ground hopper I found this strange as to me you always need some sort of  targets and trhe first one is to complete the English football league.

At this point I felt there was going to be more goals. I felt a Seaton goal would bring them right back in the match and a Jarrow goal would kill the game. It was the latter that occurred and the game was heading now for a Jarrow victory. Right at the death, Seaton scored a consultation goal. It was too little, too late and the game ended in a 3-2 defeat for the home side.

The teams trooped off to the changing rooms to get changed and enjoy the rest of their weekend. It will be at least another week now before Seaton Carew eventually gain that ever elusive home win.untitled


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