At the age of 12, I was introduced by my Mum and Uncle’s to the world of football. Born and bread Newcastle fan I had never really taken it all in until we moved back from Sweden.
My Dad loved his football, and as a youth and a sailor caught the eye of a scout for Leeds United, he didn’t take up the place however.
Many years later however he played a part in setting up a company football team while we were in Sweden. I enjoyed going to watch them play. The water bottles would be my job and shouting for the Multico team. It was fun at the time, but more fun was when they decided in closed season, to take part in the volleyball league so as to occupy their time. These men had no idea how Volleyball worked. I went to watch every match, and every match they won, match after match after match. They only went and won the competition. Beginners luck is the only way to describe it.
So, as I was saying, with 3 season tickets in the family, I started to go to the matches. I learned the names of all the players and my life soon revolved around Newcastle United. When I say my life revolved around it I mean every newspaper article I cut out and stuck in scrap books, my walls were covered half and half with NUFC posters and Take That posters with the odd Just Seventeen hottie thrown in for good measure. (I still have these along with signed annuals in the cupboard)
In the summer of 1995 I spent all my time with my best friend and Mum (occasionally Dad) at the Newcastle United training ground at Maiden Castle in Durham. We got autographs, pictures with the players and even spent time talking to the players of the time. It was a magical summer.
(Steve Watson, Lee Clark, Scott Sellars, John Beresford, Darren Peacock and Les Ferdinand)
My late teens were spent in the same way, going to the matches and those I didn’t attend were watched on the TV. If I couldn’t get my football fix from a Newcastle match I would find a team I could watch.
On the 1st of January 1997, along with my Uncle and Aunt we went to the home game against Leeds. With it being New Years Day we had been in the pub before hand and rushed in to the ground. For anyone who hasn’t been to a game, they sell raffle ticket type things on the way in “Geordie Jackpot” top prize being £2000. We rushed in and I stood behind a gentleman awaiting to buy my ticket, he insisted I go before him and we rushed up to our seats.
Half Time came round and the winning numbers were paraded round the ground. Now I hadn’t even looked at my ticket as I was in such a rush to get to my seat. My Uncle said oooh it must be someone who came in around the same time as us as my ticket is only a few numbers away. I checked mine, and I was indeed the winner.
Our faces were in the programme for the first game in charge for Kenny Dalglish. The money I won got split between my Mum, and two Uncles and me, after all it was their tickets and they had always said if one of them won they would split it.
The memories are flooding back …….
With 6 children you would think that one of them would be interested in football, just one. To be honest we were starting to lose hope. Jordan and Regan enjoy a kick around but that’s about the extent of it. If you asked them how the off side rule worked they would look at you as if you were an alien. Mark held out hope for his youngest son but again he likes a kick about but he enjoys dancing a little more.
The girls, well Caitlin loves anything girly and Penny is too young. When Libby told her Dad that she would love to go and watch a football match both our hearts skipped a beat. Could Libby possible the one, the one Mark could pass on all his useless football trivia on too, the one that followed in Mummy’s football footsteps?
Whilst browsing through Social Media a couple of weeks ago Mark discovered that a local team had free admission for under 16’s. He didn’t want to start with the big teams and wanted to take her to a lower league game first. Then if she enjoyed it, we could look at taking her to see Newcastle play.
Chester Le Street Town FC play at Chester Moor, which is just off the A167 on the outskirts of the town. The ground is charming and reminds you of how the grounds used to be. Playing in the Northern League, it is well worth the look out.
We kept it a secret, not until we got off the Go North East 21 service at Chester Moor did Mark tell her where we were off too. Excited is an understatement.
Entry for Adults is charged at £6 each, Concessions £3, with under 16’s gaining admission for free.
We went and sat down in the stand and watched the teams, Chester and Ashington CFC, warm up. Answering a lot of questions for her we were ready for the match but not before a visit to the Clubhouse for Marks obligatory pie and Bovril. The Clubhouse has a good selection of beverages and snacks, all at very reasonable prices.
The joy of going to a ground like this is the children can go for a wander. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to be in the seats, stood at the side of the pitch or sat on the hill next to the stand.
Taking in every second though it got to half time and yellow and red cards were explained, offside rule was tackled and corner balls/goal kicks followed.
Half time brought another visit to the Clubhouse and Libby came back with a pie. Now for those of you that do not know Libby, she is the fussiest of eaters and her weekly Menu is so limited, for her to come back with a pie, and for her to then demolish half of it made my day.
The second half was spent with Daddy sat at the side of the pitch and asking more questions.
Sadly with five minutes to go Chester were trailing 4-2, so we decided to start walking towards the exit. As we walked up the ball went out and Libby went chasing after it to kick it back in with encouragement from the Ashington player who was waiting for it. This without a doubt put the silver lining on her night.
You can see from the photos how much she enjoyed it and if your little ones enjoy football I can’t recommend it highly enough. In her words it “was one of the best nights ever and a fab surprise”.
They often organise fundraising events and I am informed the free under 16’s is something they are hoping to keep in place for a while.
For all the latest information about Chester Le Street Town and their fixtures, you can visit their website and social media pages, these are: