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Saturday 13th April 2013 ko 14.30

Wearside League

RICHMOND TOWN 0

WILLINGTON 1 (Marshall 78) White sent off (2nd booking)

Att 94 (h/c)

Entry £2

Programme £1

Tea 80p

Apparently Richmond is the UK’s most replicated place name with 57 instances so for the avoidance of any doubt, this beautiful place is in North Yorkshire! The Georgian Theatre here, is reckoned to be the most complete anywhere in the world. Its a town of narrow, cobbled streets, and seemingly is unchanged much since it was founded in 1071 by the Breton Alan Rufus, on lands granted to him by William the Conqueror. The name Richmond is an anglicised version of the Norman Richemont, meaning Strong Hill, there’s still a town of that name in Haute-Normandie. Richmond Castle, completed in 1086, consisted of a keep with walls encompassing the area now known as the Market Place.

The castle still dominates the scene, built at least in part as a response to the 1069 rebellion at York which was followed by his “harrying of the North” – an act of ethnic cleansing which depopulated large areas. As a further punishment he divided up the lands of North Yorkshire among his most loyal followers. Alain Le Roux de Ponthievre of Brittany received the borough of Richmond and began constructing the castle to defend against further rebellions and to establish a personal power base.

The castle was finished as a defence by the 15th century but remained as a tourist attraction and occasional military base, Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the Scout movement ran the barracks here from 1908-10, and during World War I as the base of the Non-Combatant Corps made up of conscientious objectors. It was also used to imprison some of those objectors who refused to accept army discipline and participate in the war in any way. These included The Richmond 16 who were taken to France from the castle, charged under Field Regulations and then sentenced to death, those death sentences eventually being commuted to ten years’ hard labour.

The Earl’s Orchard Playing Field gives the most spectacular view of the south side of the castle situated as it is just over the River Swale from castle walls. It used to be a jousting field and if you look to the right side of the castle walls you can still see the holes where a balcony was fixed so the Earl of Richmond and his retinue could watch the action!

Behind the near goal the Culloden Tower is clearly visible. It was built in 1746 by John Yorke, a Richmond MP and the architect is thought to have been Daniel Garrett. It was originally called the Cumberland Temple and was built to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland’s army over Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonny Prince Charlie) at Culloden Moor in April of that year.

All of the history means that the football club’s scope for improving facilities is more or less nil. The pavilion was opened by Jack Charlton in 1975, but the both the pitch rails and dugouts and removable. The club won the Teesside League last season and went into this fixture in second place. Its clear that for elevation to the Northern League the club will have to move to progress.

The game saw a contrast in ambitions. Willington are ex-Northern League, and are looking to return for next season. They’re top of the table, and this win makes that ambition likely now they’re 10 points clear from Stockton FC, who are now second. It wasn’t the greatest game to watch as a neutral, two good sides simply cancelled each other out, and it took the dismissal of Willington’s Jason White, moronically for an incident of dissent in each half. Oddly it was the visitors who responded the best as substitute Reece Marshall fired home to take the points home north.

For all of that, I could have witnessed a 7-6 thriller, and I still wouldn’t remember this place for anything other the view. Its quite something isn’t it?