There is something enjoyable about lower league football. Away from the glamour and the glitz of the premier league, with its mega stars and obscene budgets there is still a lot that the beautiful game has to offer.
It is not that I get to a lot of games. I would not call myself a fan, or an aficionado yet I have been with friends to several memorable games. I have seen Glasgow Rangers play Berwick Rangers in a strange twist of fate in the Scottish League Two and seen Blyth Spartans beat Hartlepool United in the FA Cup but I have never see my home town club play until last week.
Peter has been going to see Morpeth Town for some time now. He got caught up in the excitement of their FA Vase win and has not been cured of the bug. When he asked me if I would like to go and see the Town play local Vase rivals Whitley Bay it was too good an opportunity to miss.
I could claim allegiance to Whitley Bay as I lived there when a lad though another Vase winner, North Shields is my true birthright team. I have lived in Morpeth now for the best part of three decades and can no longer be considered an incomer.
Back to the game. Town dominated possession from the start, coming close on several occasions with an excellent save from the Bay keeper but it was still evens by halftime. By then the warm summer evening had given over to showers and this changed the pitch for the second half. Town were all over their opponents and once the first goal went in the floodgates opened. Bay lost their shape and had very little to offer going forward with Morpeth looking to score at every opportunity. Bay’s defence made some howlers and the Town took their chances though the five nil final score was a bit harsh on the visitors.
Throughout the game we were feet away from the action. We could here the players cajoling and encouraging each other. We could feel the thud of the ball and smell the damp turf. It was exciting and at times visceral.
For ninety minutes the players were galacticos, admired and admonished by the crowd of spectators. The teams were playing for the love of the game and afterwards they melted back into their daily lives. They had other jobs to go to, indeed one of Peter’s work mates, who scored with a magnificent header, had a night shift to go to after the match.
There is something enjoyable about lower league football. The players play and the spectators watch for the enjoyment and the beauty of the sport. The results, in the end may not matter, it is only a game.