Monday, 12 April 2010

Is It Over Yet? Unfortunately Not...

I have to admit that it was difficult to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for this home game against Accrington Stanley - the prospect that results may mean we'd be relegated wasn't the problem - the season just needs to be put out of it's misery so we can put it behind us and get on with looking forward to next season.

Chris was back with us this morning and so it wasn't long before the fatuous arguments on the quality of the Conference teams and our progress next season began between him and Martin. As ever I kept well out of it well until it finally subsided. A no-score bore draw.

The journey was somewhat of an odd one too - we were the first train out of Kings Cross going to the north and the first stop was York but due to a small stretch of engineering between Stevenage and Hitchin it took about 90 mins just to reach Peterborough. Very frustrating.

It was almost noon by the time we pulled into Bank Top station - the platform was awash with Newcastle fans going up for their game against Blackpool - no doubt to celebrate their promotion back to the Premiershite.

By the time I got to the Quakerhouse I found that all the tables had been taken by a group of Sheffield Wednesday fans. They were playing the Boro but had taken the sensible decision of drinking in Darlington first.

On the bar today: Captain Cook's Endeavour and Black Porter, Salopian Lemon Dream and Springtime, Ironbridge IPA, Rugby Victorious, Keltek Pat's Ale and Grays Best and Summerskills Hopscotch - the latter two both hanging on from our visit earlier in the week.

It was a quiet DAFTS turn-out today - just Tony and myself. John Bell was to have joined us but had called in complaining of a dodgy stomach - he'd make the game but couldn't face the beer.

We wandered on up to Number Twenty-2 where we met Durham Tony. My chum Paul was also in with a couple of his Scottish mates - as ever he had a bet on the game, fully confident of a win.

(left) Only Durham Tony can raise a smile

Some interesting beers on tap: Brass Monkey Silverback, Green Jack Excelsior, Copper Dragon Scotts 1816, Hambleton Nightmare and Allendale Curlew's Return and Best Bitter.

I've had a few Allendale beers recently and they've all been excellent but the Curlews Return was outstanding - probably the best I've had for a while.

The Silverback was also an excellent pint - a 5% golden bitter with bags of flavour.

John Bell popped in to join us when it was time to catch the taxi and off we went to the game.

There were a few newbies in block 11 today - no doubt due to the closure of the West Stand - and it certainly looked like we were back with a sub-2000 crowd.

In the away stand, Accrington seemingly had more flags than fans but despite their lack of numbers, their drumming made enough noise for everyone.

On the pitch it looked as if the players were as enthused as I was - Stanley had nothing to play for and our fate is now all but sealed - chances were few and far between and the game was quite a chore to watch.

The most interesting part of the day was when Tony and I started to heckle the assessor that constantly seems to pester the stewards. The stewards work towards an NVQ and I've seen some of the papers which they have to fill in - it really is making what should be a quite simple case of using common sense into a over-regulated nightmare. No wonder stewards look confused all the time.

Back on the field of play the defence played quite well with Arnison the pick of the bunch at right-back but in midfield and up-front we looked jaded. Chris Moore worked well early on but faded fast as did Purcell.

Youngster Michael Smith - who replaced the inept Diop - reminds me of a lower-league Peter Crouch but he failed to make any impression on this game though due to the lack of service he was often a solitary figure up front.

Old boy Mark Convery made another late appearance as a sub but made little overall impact on the game.

A final score of nil-nil was the predictable outcome and I suspect everyone was relieved and happy to head on home.

The Quakers had technically avoided relegation but this formality should be confirmed at Spotland in a twist of fate that sees the two longest-serving clubs finally get out of this division - it is just so typical of Darlo that we do it in a downward direction.

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