A Tale of Two Tickets


As we set off for the derby match against Harrogate my mate asks me to check if I had my ticket with me. "Yes of Cour..."

"Whoa Whoa, Whoa, just hold your horses there a minute. Did you say derby match v Harrogate? Come on, you cannot be serious, it is no more a derby match than when we play the plastic Geordies from the Heed." I am surprised that Sky TV did not have the match billed as Betty's v Greggs. The very worst I was expecting was the famed Betty's boot boys throwing stale scones at us and Poolies chanting back "You can stick your sherry trifles up your..."

The plan was to get to the ground early and sample some of the pies and pasties (not Betty's) that were on offer as they had favourable reviews among the football community. This plan went out the window very quickly, as unbeknown to me the Bride had put up some scran for us and we ended up having a picnic on the 6th level of the multi storey car park next to the railway station. I am sure if one went to the 10th storey of the car park they would have got a panoramic view of Betty's fabled baps.

For the foodies amongst you our platter consisted of Argentinian corned beef made from the finest of Pampas-reared and grazed dead cow sandwiched nicely in between two slices of a Hull-, or possibly  Stockton-baked Warburton bun.

This was washed down courtesy of a flask of Yorkshire tea. Others enjoyed Harrogate sparkling water which surprisingly originated from Harrogate. Our sweet consisted of sticky toffee err mmm Mars bar (well it was very hot in the car) which hailed from Slough and was out of this world. Savoury was a bag of crisps from Leicester. I really must stop buying their products as apart from Gary Lineker getting up my nose big style, is the fact that Walkers /Pepsi closed down their crisp factory in Peterlee with massive job losses. If that was not bad enough, courtesy of Paul McCartney, Heather Mills bought the factory and it is now churning out vegan food. Not having a go at any vegans out there but I can't stand veg.

What a waste of a crisp factory.

Whilst enjoying our culinary delights I looked out over the railway lines and noticed that the bus station was sited next to the entrance of the railway station. I had never seen the like. Yes, I know, I know we have a bus train interchange in Hartlepool but not one that's full of buses going here there and everywhere. I recently learned that Hartlepool Borough Council charges each bus operator four English pounds each time a bus pulls into our interchange. Little wonder the Council make sixteen pounds a day and there is not a bus to be seen.

Owing to our dallying longer than expected in our salubrious surroundings,we had not noticed the time slip and there was only half an hour before kick off and we only had a rough idea where the ground was located. With that the Bride quickly threw the Nottingham lace tablecloth, the candelabra, the best silver and Royal Doulton china (made in China) into the back of our Hartlepool four-wheeled tractor commonly known in the trade as a Hyundai.

We asked several locals where the ground was and they hadn't a clue. If we had followed the directions one lady gave us, God bless her, we would have ended up in Ilkley.

Thankfully a couple of lads passing by put us right and told us to cut through this ginnel - what a brilliant word (it is the same a a Wynd.) and then across the Stray. A very pleasant walk if we had not been is so much of a hurry.
"I am surprised that Sky TV did not have the match billed as Betty's v Greggs"

All set to go into the ground with ten minutes to spare when my mate, the lad who had asked me if I'd remembered to bring my ticket, pulled out his ticket which read "Darlington v Hartlepool, Durham Challenge Cup." After going through his pockets and wallet, there was no sign of the Harrogate ticket which he realised he had left it at home.

Funny how your mind goes into gear in a crisis.

I said we would go to the nearby pub and watch the game on the telly (okay for me as I wasn't driving!)

No, he said it's your ticket.

I suggested we toss a coin for it. No again.

I went to see a steward and he suggested explaining our predicament to the ticket office who might be sympathetic and look favourably upon us.

Just as I finished talking to him I got chatting to the lovely Bernadette (sadly, her dad is a right ne'er do well), who suggested that my mate gets someone at home to photograph the ticket and send it to his mobile phone so he could present it at the turnstile or ticket office. (Here's me thinking that I would have to get the photo developed at Boots and the match would be well over by then.) Turns out my pal had already gone down the same route in getting a photo sent to him. He came running over to me with said photo on his phone, at the same time as this random Poolie asked me if I needed a ticket as he had one to spare.

Where did he appear from?

"How much?"

"You can have it mate."

Fair play to the lad, there are some good people about. Afterwards I got to thinking that if I had been stood four feet away in any other direction I would have missed him.

I am not going to give a match report as

1) I can't go through that again.
2) I am sure you that you all witnessed the horror show that should have been screened after the 9pm watershed.
3) I can't go through all that again.

All I will say is that a couple of days earlier, I had gone to see the excellent Laurel and Hardy film and our two most senior outfield players on the day could have taken their parts with ease as they were bigger clowns.

The pair of them should be the first names on Money's free transfer list at the end of the season. If Featherstone gets another game for Pools I will be staggered.

One other strange observation about the match. Nearly 800 Poolies in the away end who when always in number, are very vocal, hardly made a toot all afternoon. Probably they too have been battered into submission.

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