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Friday, February 12, 2010

Teesiders & Seasiders cannot be split.

Whitehawk 1 Marske United 1 aet

When the draw was made, it boiled down to a choice between Royston and Whitehawk. With the snow causing havoc in the draw, Royston’s opponents had still not been decided so I was left with a visit to the Sussex coast.

The train journey was incident free all the way. A very simple journey on a quiet train with no conversations to listen into and no incident to speak of. All I had to do when arriving in Brighton, was find the bus stop for the final leg of my journey. Well I knew the journey was going to well. On leaving the train station, I found the bus stops which seemed to include a stop for every bus except the one that I wanted. I wandered round in circles around the streets for a while hoping to bump into my bus stop, but after 10 minutes of aimless wandering I was getting nowhere so returned to the train station to start again. I kept looking at the map outside the station but couldn’t make head or tail of where my bus stop was. I had a sudden flash of inspiration and decided to ask inside he station travel station. It turned out that my stop was the solitary stop at the rear of the station by a little traffic island. I walked parallel to platform 8 and finally found where I was supposed to be. It was only after the even when re-checking my directions that I noticed that my print-out specified the stop at the rear of the station. As my wife said “Why do men never read anything properly”.

The bus journey was excellent. Up steep hills and round steep corners. The double decker number 81 seemed to constantly be at hair-raising angles but the views were spectacular and I enjoyed seeing a bit of Brighton racecourse. The bus driver overshot my stop by 50 yards. He apologised profusely although it made little difference to me. He was very excited as nobody had ever asked to get off at this stop before on his shift. He had a satisfied smile on his face as he disappeared into the distance. I found the entrance to the sports ground extremely easily and was in good time. This has to be the longest drive into a sports ground I’ve ever come across. The walk took at least 15 minutes and seemed never ending. Fortunately, I went past several other football pitches and most had a match going on. I enjoyed watching a few snippets of play although have you noticed whenever you walk or drive past a game in progress, there’s always a corner kick about to be taken.

The ground when I reached it was worth the wait. Not for the facilities, although a snug bar, small stand and adjoining covered standing area were reasonable. Not for the pitch was sloped somewhat from end to end and was surrounded by a basic white rail. But for the view of the downs which rose imposingly over the far touchline nad were positively stunning. We were treated to a sunny afternoon without a cloud in sight although the temperature which started low, plummeted rapidly as the afternoon wore on.

Marske brought a creditable number considering the length of journey and graced the covered area with a wide selection of flags. They sang all afternoon and created a good atmosphere.

Lunch was sausage and chips from a mobile burger bar. The hot dog was okay although the chips were undercooked and the whole meal was instantly forgettable.

The game itself was almost a mirror image of the previous round when I’d been to Armthorpe. Both goals were scored within two minutes of each other late in the first half. The match was fiercely competitive although sportingly played and despite near misses and extra time, the sides could not be separated.

Sussex is one of my favourite counties for watching football and this ground did not disappoint.

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