There are no words adequately to describe the early August weather at West Auckland tonight, though “vile” may come closest.
It’s been tanking down all day, it’s maybe 10 degrees but feels colder and more miserable and there’s even an ill wind to put a spoke in Guisborough Town press officer Bill Perfitt’s best brolly.
Perhaps it’s not wholly surprising. “Redcar pound shop,” says Bill.
In the field behind the bottom goal, a flock of sheep huddles together for warmth and comfort, perhaps taking ovine consolation in the fact that – unlike at least one dozy human – they haven’t taken two hours and three bus journeys and then paid good money to get in.
The evening’s much cheered, however, by the appearance of 85-year-old Ernie Curtis – that’s him atop the blog – a delightful chap who was West’s centre forward in the 1961 FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley and had barely set foot on the ground since.
The night before the final – an undeserved 2-1 defeat to Walthamstow Avenue – they’d watched the Crazy Gang, which didn’t mean Wimbledon. “It seemed quite appropriate,” says Ernie.
West, now managed by Gary Forrest – who two seasons back guided Shildon to a treble – are among the pre-season favourites.
Among Gary’s conditions on assuming office was that West did something about the pitch- and while the Flat Earth Socierty itself could never make it level, they’ve clearly been working very hard – not least all day today. Well done.
West lead 3-0 after 18 minutes, finally score nine. They look fast, fit and inventive. “It took us till Christmas to score nine last year,” says some sodden soul on the way out.
Someone at Guisborough, facing a miserable drive home, recalls that they once lost 12-0 to Consett.
West Auckland stalwart Cliff Alderson reckons that the last time they scored nine was in a famous 9-2 win over Ashington – Alan Oliver’s time as manager, getting on 20 years ago – in which the prolific Roy Allen hit eight but missed the penalty which would have given him a share of the Northern League’s individual scoring record. Whatever happened to him?
Should I recover, on Wednesday evening I’m off on the No 1 bus to Crook. Chris Wood, Guisborough’s eloquent PA man, is flying out to Malaga. He may have the better bet.