Marske United 0 Dunston UTS 2

Saturday 13th October 2012
Marske United 0 Dunston UTS 2
Ebac Northern League Division One
At: G. E. R. Stadium, Mount Pleasant Avenue
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (60 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny
Attendance: 170 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:54; second-half: 46:41

Once I’d decided to mark Non-League Day 2012 with a game in the ‘second oldest league on the world’, my choice was akin to standing at the counter of Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe faced with over 100 jars of different sweets. Today, ‘sweets’ were ‘fixtures’ and I’d got a choice of a number of Northern League games at grounds I’d not previously visited as well as a few FA Vase ties. Train times played in my decision and I opted for Markse-by-the-Sea, a village I can’t remember previously visiting, on the railway line to Saltburn-by-the-Sea I’d never previously travelled on. Visitors to the G.E.R. Stadium were FA Vase holders who scored a goal in each half without reply through Danny Craggs and Andy Bulford to take all three points back to Tyneside.

As well as being the second oldest league in the world (founded in 1889), the Northern League can also boast to being the birthplace of the ‘Groundhop’ with 41 games staged at different grounds over five seasons between 1992 and 1996, as well as one game in the Wearside League. So, virtually all of the Northern League games I’d previously seen were either designated hop games or sandwiched in between.

Today didn’t start well as the cancellation of the 09:01 train to Manchester Piccadilly meant a slightly earlier departure and a change onto a Virgin Pendolino at Stoke-on-Trent. As a result I arrived later at Picaddilly and, even though I had missed my preferred connection to Darlington, I did bump into John Holland at the timetable racks who had, by coincidence, missed his connection to Bangor. It was nice to have a chat with John, who I got to know on August’s Mid-Wales League hop, before heading 20 minutes later than planned to Darlington and onwards to the coast.

Up in the north-east, with a bit of time to spare, I alighted the Saltburn-bound train early at Redcar East station and walked into Markse along the coast road via the ground of Wearside League side Redcar Athletic where I picked up a copy of their regular programme. They faced Cleator Moor Celtic in a Shipowners Cup tie.

Before going any further, I must make reference to Marske’s programme, a hefty 60-pager full of comment, articles, reports and statistics – a real credit to those who contributed, edited and printed. A three-times past winner of National Non-League Programme of the Year (in 2007, 2009 and 2010), last season the ‘Yellow Pages’ finished runner-up to Chelmsford City. The 2012/13 edition is certainly going to be a strong contender for top honours again.

Programmes were on sale at the paybox before a small flight of steps led up to pitch-side where a prominently positioned white board gave this afternoon’s line-ups. Apart from the dugouts, all the facilities were found on this side with a new 102-seater stand (which replaced an old yellow and blue stand) and adjacent covered standing with changing rooms, clubhouse and Shell’s Kitchen behind at a lower level. The ground also had additional covered standing at the near right-hand corner and some terracing on the far side behind the dugouts.

A few sentences from the programme sum up perfectly the season so far for Marske (18th with 10 points from 11 games) and Dunston (16th with 11 points from 11 games).

At Marske, ‘last Saturday [6th October] Ted Watts and John Boswell took immediate charge of the team after being appointed the previous night, and quickly brought success with a 2-1 win against a very good Celtic Nation side’. The new manager drafted in two new loan signings from Whitby Town, striker Jordan Hugill and defender Callum Wilson, ahead of last Tuesday trip to Whitley Bay where Marske suffered a 4-0 loss against an in-form side.

Dunston ‘have made a slow start to the season … they were bottom of the league after losing all of their opening five games but have gradually picked up some form of late and are now four games unbeaten’.

Having faced the 2009, 2010 and 2011 FA winners on Tuesday, today Marske found themselves hosting the 2012 winners.

In lovely warm sunshine, Marske (in yellow and blue) got the game underway attacking the ‘new houses’ end – right to left in relation to the stand. Dunston must have opted to defend into the sun during the first half.

Dunston created several early chances and, in the 13th minute, defender Chris Swailes headed against the bar from Lee McAndrew’s corner.

It was no surprise when the visitors took a 33rd-minute lead. McAndrew crossed from the left and Danny Craggs powered a header past Marske goalkeeper Scott Wheatley.

Marske almost equalised just before the interval. Liam Connell produced a decent save to block a well-struck left-foot shot from Chris McGill.

I certainly enjoyed the first half and headed down the steps to join the queue at Shell's Kitchen.

A 35-yard drive from Anth Ormerod seven minutes after the restart drew applause after the ball flew just wide of the target. The diving Connell then pushed clear a shot by Kevin Charlton.

Dunston survived and doubled their lead in the 74th minute. Craggs, out on the right, crossed to the far left post where Andy Burford ran in to head home past Wheatley. Burford scored both goals in the 2-0 win over West Auckland Town in May’s FA Vase Final at Wembley.

In the closing stages, new signing Jordan Hugill fired across the face of the Dunston goal.

The outcome may had been different had Marske managed to equalise early in the second half. As one fan said to his mate, a goal “would have given them such a lift”.

I took the short cut back to the station and continued my journey to Saltburn before heading immediately back home. On the way back, I couldn’t have had more of a contrast – a luxurious deregulated first class carriage on the Grand Central service from Eaglescliffe to York and a packed TransPennine Express to Manchester seemingly full of racegoers returning from an afternoon on the Knavesmire – at least I got a seat between Dewsbury and Piccadilly!

Great day out, though tiring, with thoughts about which other unvisited Northern League grounds I can easily reach on a Saturday by train.

Marske United (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Scott Wheatley, 2. Callum Wilson, 3. Jonathan, 4. Anth Ormerod, 5. Adam Wheatley, 6. Leon Carling, 7. Chris McGill, 8. Tommy Marron (capt), 9. James Magowan, 10. David Onions, 11. Kevin Charlton. Subs: 12. Danny Brunskill (for Wilson, 76), 13. Jordan Hugill (for Ormerod, 77), 14. Derek Bradley (not used), 15. Kieran Edwards (not used), 16. Lewis Tidy (for Burton, ht).

Dunston UTS (white/black/black): 1. Liam Connell, 2. Stephen Gibson, 3. Terry Galbraith, 4. Ian Herron, 5. Chris Swailes, 6. Ben Cattanach (capt), 7. Danny Craggs, 8. Michael Dixon, 9. Lewis Teasdale, 10. Steve Goddard, 11. Lee McAndrew. Subs: 12. Steve Pickering (not used), 13. Jack Burns (not used), 14. Andy Bulford (for Goddard, 37), 15. Michael Robson (not used), 16. Steve Preen (for Teasdale, 77).

Referee: Geoff Liddle (Darlington).
Assistants: Kevan Howe (MIddlesbrough) and Robbie Dunn (Berwick Hills).

0-1 Danny Craggs (33)
0-2 Andy Bulford (74)

Cards: none.