Well can that be classed as a season? Corona tried to say no. Not many games were viewed, thats a fact. But Wee Man and myself had our eyes opened to new Leagues, this leading me to believe that it was a success despite only seeing 1170 minutes of fitba in the flesh.
Would we have headed to the fantastic Northern Football League if Jason Leitch and his cronies with their clear disdain for the game did not cancel fitba on home soil? Maybe but most likely not. Would we have made it up to the North Caledonian League if there were closer or bigger games on? This one I would say yes as it was planned due to it remaining as the only un-viewed senior league in the country for me. But I can guarantee we would not have contemplated watching the North East Scotland Welfare League (I have in the past but not at grounds that fall into my criteria of a ground). As I said, three new associations viewed equals a success, it was absolutley a case of, when life gives you lemons.
The season may have put a serious dent in my ground visiting hobby but finding the Northern Football League was worth the lack of games . I only headed to Easington Colliery after a work mate informed me of the league still running in the Autumn. Three thousand miles later I find myself hooked and couldnt help feel disappointment when it was eventually halted and then called at a later date. Crook Town, Birtley Town, Hebburn Town and Willington were on the radar but it wasn’t to be. However I will not complain. I always express my love for the Highland League and proclaim it is the best league in the world. Well I will place the NFL just about up there with it. There are a lot of similarities just over the Wall. There is the community spirit of the clubs, the volunteers/people involved, the fans, the great wee grounds and the honesty and throwback nature of the league. It truly is a hidden gem of a place to watch fitba and will now always be somewhere I will find myself watching games. Games with a high standard that came as a complete surprise to me from the first minute at Easingtion Colliery. Some really good fitba is played. Along with the league we also found the glorious A68, a road I had never driven on, with its scenic views and rollercoaster like peaks and troughs, it adds fun to the trips.
As stated above, we also bust our North Caley cherries meaning I have watched games in every Senior and Junior league in Scotland (before the Pyramid Leagues came in). The standard is not the greatest in all honesty but it is entertaining and thats what its about. There are goals, it is quite tough and it does have some decent players on the go. Long trips Golspie and Halkirk await us in future.
Then came the North East Welfare league and its goals galore (19 in two games). Goals make games and it is on the doorstep. I wont complain about it at all. Obviously some teams play in public parks and really can’t be classed as grounds but there are still a few there worth a visit. But when a spare fine summers night needs filling , there are always the teams between our house and the Broch.
It may have been a truncated season (again) but it was worth while. I know of people who havent been to a game in over four hundred days so my thirteen 90 minutes seems a decent tally. Only thirteen games but we definitely made lemonade.
One thing is for sure though , I will never take fitba for granted as you never know what is around the corner. I will make sure I visit the grounds that tickle my fancy when the opportunity arises. The big one this coming season is Glentoran and their magnificent Oval. But Easthouses Lily, Whitehill Welfare, Golspie Sutherland, Hebburn Town , Crook Town and a few others will definitely be invaded by two North Eastern teuchters soon enough.
Roll on a return home and the 2021/22 season……….
Games – 13
Goals – 62
Teams Viewed – 26
With Wee Man – 10
Milage – 4230
Tournaments – 7 – Scottish Cup, North Caledonian League 1, North Caledonian League 2, North East Welfare League 2, Northern Football League 1, Northern Football League 2, Friendly
Red Cards – 3 – Esh Winning (2), Lesmahagow
Penalties – 8 – Birtley Town(miss), Tow Law Town(miss), Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, Crook Town, Chester-le-Street, Alness United, New Pitsligo, Cuminestown
Home – 8
Away – 4
Draw – 1
Best Game – Cuminestown 5 v 5 Macduff
Highest Scoring – Cuminestown 5 v 5 Macduff
Goalless – 0
Countries – 2
First Ground Visits – 12 -Easington Colliery , Carlisle City, Tow Law Town, Consett, Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, Esh Winning, Alness United, Forfar United, Lesmahagow, St Duthus, New Pitsligo, Cuminestown
Revisit – 1 – Deveronvale
Wee Man New – 10
Watched Illegally – 2 – Deveronvale and Forfar United
Best Social Club – Ryton and Crawcrook Albion
Favourite Ground – Tow Law Town’s Ironworks Road
Best Fans – Ryton and Crawcrook Albion (a lot of great folk at that club)
Games Weathered Off – Hebburn Town v Stockton Town and Esh Winning v Cheste-le-Street
Turds in a Urinal – None this season
Favourite Photo – Lesmahagow
Picture of the season
Sneaky Deveronvale fans