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Wednesday 26th December 2012 ko 11.00

Northern League Division 2

THORNABY 4 (Mitchell 32p 57 66p Morrison 33)

STOKESLEY SPORTS CLUB 3 (Foley 11p Bravo 15 Redman 24)

Att 54

Abandoned after 73 minutes due to player injury

Entry £4

Programme £1

If Christmas Day is for spending with your family and watching the Queen’s message, then Boxing Day is definately for chasing around the country with your friends! This adventure involved picking up Lee at 7am and Chris at 8.15. We were joined by Newhall United secretary Dan Bishop, indulging a spot of groundhopping with his side having no game.

The self styled Poundland Peter Ustinov brought his “Viz” annuals along, and kept us all amused during a 500 mile day. The original plan was to watch games at Marske, then Harrogate Town, but with the weather as wet as it was we were prepared with fixture lists, phone numbers, and all kinds of Twitter accounts. Harrogate fell early, presumably to stop the vistors, Workington from travelling.

We reached the petropolis of Redcar, diverting to avoid a quite dreadful accident of the A174 (the air ambulance was in attendance when we left), and we’d just reached Marske-on-sea when the dreaded tweet arrived. Game off due to waterlogging, so a quick replan saw us divert towards Middlesbrough and the pretty town of Thornaby-on-Tees. The town is best known for being the base of the RAF 608 North Riding squadron, although the airfield these days is an industrial estate.

The football club is to be found at Teesdale Park, a multi-sport venue, that used to be the works ground of Head Wrightson, a heavy industrial company, that specialised in the production of massive cast iron products, often used in the shipping industry nearby. The Barnes Railway Bridge was made by the firm too. World Cup referee Pat Partridge worked for the firm and started his “other” career here, which reached its pinnacle in 1977 when he took charge of the European Cup Winners Cup Final between SV Hamburg and Anderlecht in the Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam, which Hamburg won 2-0.

It’s clear that the ground has seen both money and care taken over it in the last few years. The old stand behind one goal, long since denuded of its roof, has been repainted and seats added, the other stand has had fresh seats added, judging by the colour, they may have been from Feethams, Darlington’s old ground. Intriguingly further shelter is provided by a handful of bus shelters!

The Thornaby secretary was kind enough to copy the line-ups for me (Maidstone United take note) and I asked, having done no research, as to how he expected the game to turn out. He sucked his teeth, pondering, then said “Probably going to be a tight one this, not much between these two sides.”

For half an hour those words looked wide of the mark as the visitors raced into a 3 goal lead, as forwards Richard Playforth, and former Athletico Madrid striker Javier Asenjo Bravo looked irresistable and the home defence looked a shambles as Playford was fouled for an obvious penalty, and a howler gave Gary Redman a simple tap-in for the third.

From that point either the visitors eased off, or Thornaby found their feet. The defensive frailities were given a free transfer to Stokesley and the main beneficiary was Gary Mitchell, who collected a hat-trick, two of which from the penalty spot, and the other a superb header at the near post. The other goal, from Neil Morrison was a typical centre half’s goal, a powerful header from a set play.

Thornaby looked in control when the game came to a premature finale. Stokesley left back Matthew Robinson went down in agony with a dislocated knee following a strong challenge. The referee allowed 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, but when it hadn’t he took the only decision open to him and abandoned the game. A shame, but with 17 minutes left there looked to be no way back for Stokesley. According to the Stokesley website, the ambulance did eventually arrive, and Robinson’s knee was realigned under gas and air.

He’s now in hospital, and will see a specialist in the next few days. Hopefully he’ll be back on his feet soon; its easy to forget that at this level a serious injury can have a devastating impact on a player’s ability to earn a living.