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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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BuiltWithNOF

Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Snapshots - Whitley Bay FC

Whitley Bay vs Blyth Spartans. FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round, 14 October 2006, Hillheads Park. Score 2-2. Attendance 2,023
I have to admit that a 180-mile round trip for a non-league FA Cup tie borders on insanity but I just couldn't resist it. The lure? Whitley Bay vs. Blyth Spartans. Bay had won the last nine on the bounce while Spartans are romping away at the top of the Conference North and have a legendary Cup pedigree. On top of that the two sides are only seven miles but three divisions apart. Now how's that for a ding-dong Tyneside derby?

The fog rather dominated the afternoon and the photography was difficult - but that did mean I could concentrate the game and what a cracker it was. Spartans (in their change strip of orange & black) went 1-0 early on but Bay battled back to level it and the interval. They then deservedly went ahead in the second half before the visitors scrambled an equaliser in injury time, just as the fog cleared (Bay restart: top pic). But Bay had the last laugh as they went on to win the replay 2-1.

I suppose the fog did make the occasion all the more northern and grim - which, of course, is a plus. [The pics look like something from the days of long shorts]. The only thing sexy about this football was the name of the programme: ‘Bay Watch’. Ha, ha, ha. Being in north-east is like being in another, strange country. Son Bertie has never grasped for my hand as keenly while we were waiting in the queue at the turnstiles [2,023 were there] amidst all the Geordie lads saying "beer" not "bay". A flag draped over the Spartans end rather sums up the region and its football. Across the horizontal bar of the cross of St George was 'Blyth Spartans' and, in each quarter, were the initials N, U, F and C. One club, three loyalties. PK