Run and Football 2023-24 Match 1

Local leagues at step 9 & 10 started earlier than those above them this season. The end of July gives them a bit of extra wiggle room for postponements or unexpected cup runs. Our match tonight is between Easington Colliery and FC Hartlepool in Northern League Division 2. It will be a competitive Northern League debut for Hartlepool after promotion last season. Pre-season friendlies are still going ahead and the previous Tuesday I visited Fleetwood with Jacob, Ross and Matt.

Today’s run is a recce of the Hellhole Trail Race which will be held in October. The race is shorter but trailier than previous iterations and will start and finish at Shield Row instead of Stanley. This week at the Friday Run Club I’ve got Brian for company and he’s picked the route.

Hellhole Woods

There has been an unusually large amount of rain over the last few weeks which has made the conditions similar to October. I’m pleased to have decent trail shoes on my feet on the downhills and Brian is enjoying the course. A couple of places could do with a trim and a fence has been broken but otherwise everything is OK. I especially enjoy the new part of the route through Carrick Woods looping back into Hellhole via the golf club wall. It isn’t too muddy and as always mud and hills = fun.

Carrick Woods and the Golf Club wall

Football Without Running

Our first match of the week took place on Tuesday. A pre-season friendly between Fleetwood Town and Preston North End. Highbury Stadium was a new ground for our car full of ground collectors. Despite being near Blackpool it took much longer to reach Fleetwood. The ground was reasonable and £12 to get in was OK. Jacob enjoyed the day out despite there only being a team sheet and no programme.

Captain Cod Fleetwood Town mascot

A local derby as a friendly? It was played more like a competitive game with plenty of tackles and fouls. There was very little fluent play throughout the game with more dust ups than chances. Two second half sending offs will be the only thing anyone remembers from this game.

Both challenges left the referee with little choice and occurred right in front of us. The first one was a late challenge going for the ball but the second looked more dangerous. Preston’s player got the ball with one foot but the other crashed into his opponents leg 6 inches away.

Second half sending off for Preston

The game finishes 0-0 with both managers happy not to pick up any more injuries with ten days left until the season starts. Fleetwood fans are likely to be happier, holding their more illustrious neighbours to a draw. After escaping much quicker than we arrived it looks as if we should be home by midnight. A crash on the M6 closes the road for almost 2 hours hampering our plans and making the day longer. I’m relieved to get home after putting up with an extra two hours of Matt talking and Ross moaning.

Main Stand and away end at Highbury Stadium

Easington Colliery V FC Hartlepool

I’m expecting less talking and definitely no complaining from Jacob and Brian on our Friday night trip to Easington Colliery. The Sat Nav takes us to a road just off the main street in the village. Brian says its not obvious where the ground is and I agree, especially after reaching a dead end. I find a gable end to park next to and we follow the crowds out of the estate and up an unmarked road towards the ground.

Corner flag secured with a golf club at the Welfare Ground

The Welfare Ground is exactly as you would expect a 1950’s Colliery Welfare to be. Cricket ground and adjacent football ground with a few flowers and other mowed areas which might be bowling greens.

A ball into the box

In the first few minutes it becomes clear this is a league match and not pre-season. Easington’s captain mows down a couple of opponents in quick succession. The referee is lenient and despite a telling off no yellow card is produced. Both sides hit the post and the game is pretty open with both sides trying to attack. From the pen pictures in the programme half of the visitors squad have turned out for Easington in the past. Motivation won’t have been a problem for the Hartlepool manager tonight.

Hartlepool cross into the box

Penalty Controversy

Easington Colliery started to show their experience after the first 20 minutes and retained possession better with their wide players looking more threatening. On 38 minutes one of those refereeing decisions everyone talks about changed the game. An Easington player went down in the box, the assistant who had a clear view, signaled for a free kick to Hartlepool. The referee overruled the assistant awarding a penalty which led to the assistant receiving abuse from the away fans for the rest of the night.

Nicely struck penalty

A nicely taken penalty into the top corner made it 1-0 which was the score at half time. Early in the second half Hartlepool were still rattled and fell further behind in the first 5 minutes. An Easington winger was released into the channel and cut in to score nicely.

Red Card And A Change In Fortunes

Easington look like they have done enough for the 3 points but halfway through the second half some nice passing and a good low cross sees Hartlepool tap in from 6 yards for their first Northern League goal. The formerly unflappable Easington defence is now rattled and one of the defenders clatters into an opponent in the opposition half. It looks like a clear red card and the referee obliges. After what seems like an age the injured player is taken off the pitch.

Goal for FC Hartlepool

With a couple of minutes left there was a deserved equaliser after around 10 minutes of pressure. A deflected shot beating the keeper. FC Hartlepool continued to probe but couldn’t get a winner and the game ended 2-2.

FC Hartlepool celebrate their equalising goal


Entry Fee Adults £5

Programme £1.50

Attendance 315

Run fun 8/10

Parking availability 2/10

Match entertainment 8/10

2023-24 Number of games attended 6

2023-24 Number of new grounds 5

Easington Colliery FC website

Run on Strava

If you enjoyed reading Run and football 2023-24 Match 1 I’m sure you will like dipping into our other articles on Run and Football for the 2023-24 season

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner