May 12 2018: finals thoughts

Seventeen or so casual observations from today’s Ebac Northern League finals day at Consett – Chester-le-Street 2 Ryton and Crawcrook Albion 0 in the Ernest Armstrong (second division) final and Bishop Auckland 0 Dunston UTS 1 in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup final.

*Consett appear to handle everything wonderfully well and, most importantly, with a smile.

*Living the moment, Ryton have hired a 52-seat coach for the short journey from the Tyne. “We could probably have got them all on a mini-bus,” says club secretary Stevie Carter.

*It’s always surprising how few officials from other NL clubs attend the league’s cup finals.

*Among the happy exceptions is Darlington RA secretary Alan Hamilton who not only gives me a lift but points out that the workmen’s portable netties on the A1 are now described as welfare stations.

*Weather-wise, it’s a very pleasant afternoon. For Consett, come to think, it’s positively tropical.

*Has it ever been the case that the highest placed club in either final was tenth (Dunston) and that the other three were in the bottom half of their divisions?

*Bishops, extraordinarily, haven’t been in the League Cup final since 1976, when they beat Ashington 2-1. Before today, Dunston have won it four times in the past 20 years – a hat-trick from 1998-2000 – and on three other occasions been finalists.

*League president and former World Cup referee George Courtney is denied admission at the gate. “Don’t you know who I am,” he says (or words to that effect) and, finally, someone does.

*George’s shirt comes in for considerable comment (shall we say.) “It’s a Ted Baker,” he protests. “More like Hilda Baker,” says league secretary Kevin Hewitt.

*Neither Chester nor Ryton have ever won the Ernest Armstrong or its predecessor Craven Cup. Chester were beaten finalists, on penalties by Team North, in 2011.

*FA rules allow the media team to tweet goals from the first game but not from the second, which kicks off at 3pm. Might detract from the Premiership, and things.

*Stentorian Dunston chairman Malcolm James appears to have lost his voice.

*Appointed tunnel attendants (yesterday’s blog), league management committee members Derek Breakwell and Graham Craggs carry off their duties so magnificently that they’re promoted in the field – as they used to say in the military – to tunnel superintendents.

*Teased hereabouts a few days back because of all the extra black pudding it (allegedly) cost me to get him to take the role, league media and PR officer Mike Snowdon hands over a brown paper package. It’s Bury black pudding. Brilliant.

*There’s a short cut from the ground to the Grey Horse that only takes seven minutes.

*The very substantial difference between attendance for the two games underlines the wisdom of the league’s late decision substantially to reduce the £10 admission charge.

*Since the league cup began in 1923-24, the record number of wins is nine by Willington – the last in 1975, against Bishop Auckland.