Blyth Town 1 Billingham Synthonia 1 (2/11/16)
I have supported Blyth Spartans for nearly 40 years. I have travelled from Torquay to Dingwall (Ross County), from Cardiff to Lowestoft, Barcelona to Dublin and Oslo to Tiblisi (Georgia/in former USSR) to watch football. But in all that time I had never been to South Newsham playing fields to see Blyth Town. Tonight I achieved this goal and also set a new personal statistic of going to a game two nights running to the same town to watch two matches at different grounds. The previous night I had seen Blyth Spartans demolish Goole Town in a FA trophy replay 7-1.
Tonight I had a chance at least to see Blyth Town for the first time. I suppose I had chances previously but the club before this season was virtually playing at an open field. Now they have a ‘proper’ ground complete with floodlights, a stand and best of all for any worthy groundhopper, a match day programme.
Blyth Town started back in 1995 and originally had only several junior teams. Later the club formed girl’s teams then finally an adult team. Town are a community club and are the first one in Northumberland to achieve this. Through hard work by officials and the councils help the club has managed to get funding from the football foundation to create the facilities they have now.
The ground is easily found as you drive into Blyth from the Newcastle end of the Spine road. The area was once a place that sustained a number of pitches. It still is to some extent but the ground is now fenced off for the first team. Inside the new ground as well is an all-weather 5 a side pitch/training facility. The entry fee was £6 but that also included a programme and a free drink at the bar which was good value for money in my mind. It was a chilly night but a football match was still more preferable than watching the usual drivel of Coronation Street, Eastenders and Emmerdale that the wife sits through every night.
The floodlights were quite impressive in my opinion although it took some doing for the club to get them established. After finishing top of the Northern Alliance for several seasons the club could not seem to get permission for floodlights due to some residential opposition. Eventually this decision was overturned and the club were given promotion after winning the Northern Alliance yet again. The clubs hard work in a relatively short space of time had paid off.
Down one side of the ground is a small seated stand with an extension of the cover for standing spectators. There is hard standing around the entire pitch and apart for the dug outs that’s it. Tonight’s opponents were Billingham Synthonia who were formed in 1923. They are the only club in the world named after an agricultural fertiliser.
The game kicked off on a cold night in front of a small crowd (less than 100 in my estimate). There was not much in it between two teams who are both near the top of the league. Blyth 8th and Billingham 4th. It was the home side who blasted into the lead on 15 minutes from Gillesphy with a tremendous shot which hit the roof of the net. Synners came more into the game and were rewarded with a penalty on 38 minutes and for what precisely I cannot tell you. Unlike match of the Day there are no play backs to view. The spot kick was duly converted by Craggs to level the score.
The teams went into the break on equal terms. At half time I went to keep warm in their smart club house. The game restarted and it turned out to be a good hard game throughout the 90 minutes. There were a few players from both sides who took a few hard knocks requiring some substitutions. It was fairly even and the game was heading for a draw. However in the last few minutes of the game it seemed to be going the home side’s way. They had two chances cleared of the line and a clear penalty not given. The match finished with a share of the spoils but it might be Billingham who were the happier team in the end to at least take one point back to Teesside.
Blyth Town did not take part in the FA cup this season but i wonder if we will see them in the extra preliminary round next year. They did however have their first venture in the FA Vase but lost at home to Ryton and Crawcrook at home 2-1 in their first attempt in the competition. You never know we might one day see a Town v Spartans FA cup match one day.
The Blyth Town programme was a lovely but small production and one article had to make me look twice. The opening page states ….”The overall ultimate goal is to have Blyth Town Football clubs first team’s name in the Football league within the next 10 years”. If they achieve that goal, i think well good luck to them. It’s quite a bold and highly ambitious statement. During the game i looked down both sides of the pitch and admired the few hardy souls who had come along tonight. I just wondered where the support is going to come from if they ever got into the Football league. Can the Town of Blyth with a population of 40,000 sustain two ‘senior’ clubs?
In the meantime I will take my hat off to the Individuals who have worked really hard in creating the Blyth Town community club we have today. Maybe one day the dream might come true for Blyth Town but for me I will still be a Spartans fan. Good luck.
Att- 100 estimate