Run and Football 1 North Shields 18th March 2023

Hopefully this will be the first of a new run and groundhopping series. A visit to somewhere new for football and an accompanying run. A trip to North Shields for their Northern Premier East fixture against Sheffield F.C. gave an the opportunity to try this new concept after dropping off my daughter at work. According to there are over 7,500 football grounds in England and I’ve visited just over 100 in 45 years. Each one is unique and I’m hoping merging two of my hobbies will be fun.

About the teams

Coming into the game North Shields F.C. are enjoying a first season at this level with the club nine points away from the promotion play-offs and ten clear of the relegation play offs. The Robins have picked up 16 points out of the last 21 available to move up the table. The club was originally formed in 1896 and previously enjoyed some success winning the Northern League, Challenge Cup and FA Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1969. FA Vase success arrived in 2015 and the club continued to improve. Last year they were Northern League Champions for the second time and gained automatic promotion.

Sheffield F.C. are the world’s oldest football club founded in 1857 and played in the first inter-club match in 1860, winning 2-0 against Hallam FC. Charles Clegg, a Sheffield player, was in the England team for the first international football match in 1872. The club remained staunchly amateur while almost all of the leading clubs around them became professional. In 1904 Sheffield won the FA Amateur Cup defeating Ealing 3-1. Last season Sheffield narrowly avoided relegation but are currently in a comfortable mid-table position. They come into this game unbeaten in five games.

Going for a run

This could be the most difficult part of the day. I’m aiming for around 10K but can’t afford to get lost and miss the match. Despite wearing road shoes I’m hoping to have a little run on the beach and follow the signs for the Fish Quay. Trying to run along the mosaic of uneven flagstones reminds me how easy we have it in Co Durham where they were replaced years ago. My plan to run on the beach was thwarted by the tide but I did enjoy the Ray Lonsdale creation Fiddlers Green which dominates the quay. Made of steel the memorial commemorates the fishermen from North Shields who lost their lives at sea.

Fiddlers Green memorial to fishermen lost at sea


From my starting point I’d run about 2 miles and would need to go further to reach my goal. The promenade to Tynemouth was flat, easy to run on and wide. There were many dog walkers and other pedestrians but always enough room for all. Climbing the hill at the end of the path it was time to turn around and go back the way I had come.

Tynemouth Priory

Back to the car

I decided to make a slight detour back to the car and used a parallel road to the town centre route I’d taken on the way there. Surprisingly it worked well, too well and was half a mile shorter than on the way out. I was happy with my 5.4 miles and ready for the football. A quick change and a bite to eat later I was inside.

North Shields FC from the car park

North Shields FC V Sheffield FC

After paying my entry fee I made my way to a vantage point behind the goal. In the first five minutes Shields are quickly out of the blocks with a shot from the edge of the box hitting the post. Miscommunication in the Sheffield defence saw the away centre half send a looping header just wide of his own post with the goalkeeper scrambling.

As the game goes on the sticky pitch is a leveler for both teams skillful players. After the initial enthusiasm the fans quieten down and I can hear the usual conversations. Is this level any better than the top half Northern League? Was the game better thirty years ago? Why have the referees got so much worse?

As half time approaches Sheffield break clear, Shields goalkeeper Steavens fills the goal and makes the save. A collective sigh of relief around the ground and 0-0 at half time.

first half action

Second Half

Gradually North Shields take control of the game and Sheffield are pushed back. Changes are made for both sides. More nimble, quicker players are thrown on for Shields with Sheffield also replacing their midfield options. On the hour a huge black cloud appears on the horizon slowly moving overhead like an alien spaceship in a B movie. Rain is just begging to fall when an outstanding moment of quality settles the match. Left full back Chris McDonald plays a neat one-two with his winger, repeats the feat moving into space and fires over an excellent, inviting cross onto the head of David Robinson. Robinson’s effort is saved and Cam Cunningham pokes home the rebound.

Sheffield don’t look like replying as the heavens open with everyone in the crowd and on the pitch getting soaked by torrential rain. The temperature feels like it has dropped ten degrees and slowly the terraces empty and the bar fills up. Mostly the pitch is holding up well but the games becomes scrappy and both sides struggle to get anything going. As the rain begins to ease the referee blows the full time whistle with the final score North Shields 1 Sheffield 0.

The black cloud closes in

Review of the day

A strange day of two halves with warm, sunny weather on the run followed by a colder late afternoon and a heavy persistent shower. Highlight of the day was the cross from McDonald which created the goal.

Entry fee £9 at turnstyle

Programme £2.50 full colour 36 pages

Attendance 254

Run fun 6/10

Parking availability 9/10

Match entertainment 6/10

North Shields Club website

Run on Strava

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