September 07, 2012

South Durham Matters


BILLY'S CONTRACT looks at Bishop Auckland 


FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION NINE

I have to confess that at the back end of last season I logged on almost on a daily basis to the Darlo Uncovered message board to follow the trials and tribulations of our former rivals. In fairness I felt for many of their fans and had to take my 'dut' off to them with all the ideas and suggestions they put forward to help save their club.

I was particularly taken with one idea - that if you purchased a season ticket, you would be entitled to a free pie at each home game! I must admit I was tempted to buy a ticket myself. What next - their shirts sponsored by Greggs?

Thankfully after all kinds of wheeling and dealing, of a kind that Garry Gibson would have been proud, they survived, albeit at the expense of being relegated to league division number nine. The next mission for Darlo was to find somewhere to play their home games, so they signed up with Shildon Town. A few weeks later they decided Shildon's ground was not good enough for them and decided to relocate to Bishop Auckland's new ground. I am told that this move meant that Darlo had to pay Shildon ten grand compensation for not fulfilling their part of the ground sharing agreement. On top of that, Darlow also failed to register in time their interest in taking part in whatever cups non-league clubs play in, so another valuable source of valuable revenue was lost to them. Who is running this club? The ghost of Vince Barker?
"Thankfully after all kinds of wheeling and dealing, of a kind that Garry Gibson would have been proud, they survived"


Once the club was saved their fans became rather cocky to say the least, showing little or no respect for their league division nine counterparts, giving the impression they are a big fish in a small pond. Something which has not gone down well with rival supporters in this league.They even have the cheek to nickname Spennymoor as' Spendymoor,' owing to the fact that Spenny pay decent wages to attract players.

As I said in the last edition of Monkey Business, In every negative you can find a positive, if you look hard enough (Funnily enough it was a Darlo supporting mate who passed this gem on to me, mind he probably was used to seeing a lot of negatives!)

Negative:
Darlo relegated to Coats-for-goal-posts League.

Positives:
Probably will get promoted.
Virtually every match is a derby match.
Furthest away journey - fans will be back home in time for the football results on the teleprinter.
Only the true fans will turn out to watch them ...so no fear of claustrophobia, or that of noise-induced hearing loss due to smaller crowds.
No queuing for pies as season ticket holders will be issued with these as they gain entrance through the turnstiles.
Free Saturdays off due to non-cup involvement.
It will be long and many a day before Darlo get beat off  'Pools again.
So it is not all doom and gloom after all for our friends from the A66, or should that be the A688?



CAR PARKS OF COUNTY DURHAM

Purely as a conversation piece I was looking to obtain a metal plaque for my new shed. So along with number one son we headed up to The Railway museum at Shildon to see if they had any London underground signage bearing the legend 'Mind The Gap.' Sadly they had everything but. However much to the despair of my offspring I ended up spending a good hour and a half in said railway establishment admiring the various 'lines' they had on display.

As we we were in the area I asked him if he fancied a quick blast up the road to have a look at Bishop Auckland's new ground which was only ten minutes or so down the road. So off we set. We had only just pulled out of the car park of the Railway Museum when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a sign for would you believe it a 'Lorry Museum.'

My lad could not believe it either. 'What, a lorry museum?' came a despairing cry 'A museum full of lorries - I can't believe such a thing exists or that anyone who is in their right mind would want to go look at a load of old lorries. With that I swung my trusty Skoda into the 'Lorry Museums car...or should that be lorry park. Much to the delight of my son however the place had just closed for business for the day. As we resumed our journey to West Auckland I told him not to scoff at visiting museums as one day in all likelihood he would probably be taking his children to visit a Playstation or X Box Museum or something of that ilk.
"I was half expecting sharks to be swimming past the windows and him saying "Ahh, Monkey Hangers, we have been expecting you""


We then pulled into yet another car park, that of Bishops Auckland F.C. We had a quick peek through the fence and from what we saw it looked a tidy set up. As we were driving away a lady approached us and asked if we happened to be Darlow fans giving the once over to their new lodgings. It was at that point we pointed to the logos on our shirts and the stickers in the rear window of the car denoting our affiliation to their rivals from the coast.

With that she told us that she was Bishop's Club Secretary, and asked if we would like a tour of the ground. She then introduced us to her husband, a director of Bishop, who then unlocked the front shutters of the ground to give us access and then gave us a tour of the changing and treatment rooms and took us to their bar area that doubles up as a board room on non match days. He then picked up a remote control unit and pointed it at the window shutters that protected the glass, and which then promptly began to rise. (it was a bit like a James Bond film - I was half expecting sharks to be swimming past the windows and him saying" Ahh, Monkey Hangers, we have been expecting you" - then being ejected down a chute to the finned man eaters ...or should that be Monkey eaters?) Once the shutters were fully retracted this gave us a great view over the ground and playing area.

We spent around an hour talking to them about the Darlow ground share situation and non-league football in general. They virtually viewed 'Pools in the same way most 'Pools fans would view Man. Utd in terms of size and backing.

I must admit I was really so taken by the set up at Bishop and the genuine hospitality extended by our hosts, that as we pulled out of their car park we promised that we would come up for a couple of games during the course of the season ...as long as it did not clash with a 'Pools fixture ...and their car park wasn't full.

On the way home I needed diesel ...well, the Skoda did. I was just about to drive on to the forecourt at Tesco Bishop Auckland (cheapest fuel in the country) when out of the corner of my eye in Tesco's main car park, what should I spy taking place but a vintage bus rally, with several old United double and single deckers on show, which reminded me of the days of my youth and brought a lump into my throat ...
When I think about it, it was probably my son who brought a lump to my throat by thumping it and saying he had seen enough vintage vehicles for one day to last him several lifetimes!

Postscript:
A couple of weeks later I was on the Bishop Auckland bypass, where Bishop's ground is situated, and what did I see parked either side of the road but several gypsies' caravans, both motorised and horse drawn. I thought "here we go, Darlo are on the move." Sod's law, I did not have my camera with me like I usually do, as it would have provided some cracking photographs to accompany this article.

I now know why Darlow are sometimes called Pikeys. Moved out of Feethams. Chased out of the Arena. Shifted from Shildon and now banged up in Bishop.

Darlow - coming to a ground near you. Their new club crest should depict a crystal ball, some unlucky heather and several clothes pegs on it. With the motto underneath reading 'In Scrap We Trust' (or take the 'S' out of the word scrap and then re-read it!)


THE SEASON SO FAR

Just back from the Scunny game, and yes we scored our first goals and picked up our first three points of the season, but the optimism I wrote about in the last edition of Monkey Business has evaporated (hopefully only on a temporary basis).
Walton, my great white hope, is out of sorts and on the bench.
Stevie Howard looked sluggish, but I have heard he is carrying an injury.
We were outplayed by a team who are bottom of the league, and for the last 15 minutes they only had ten men but played like they had twelve.
My main concern is that the football that we played today was not that which I would associate with a team managed by Neale Cooper. Very little football played to feet with the full backs lumping hit-and-hope balls up front for our forwards to latch on to. Not entertaining at all. If this is how we play at home I dread to think what our away performances are like to watch, but judging by the results - Not Good.
The only bright spot for me was Scunny's Kit, which I thought looked absolute class.