At this time of year I usually head home for a long weekend – it is my Mum’s birthday and there is usually the Spring Thing beer festival. This year my visit coincided with the Darlo Tykes race night which was raising funds to buy shares in Darlo 1883.
As I arrived at the Working Men’s club, there was already a healthy crowd raring to go, including some good folk who’d travelled from Darlo, including Rich and Andy. Rich, like me, was a bit non-plussed by the beer on offer – smooth flow or Newcastle Brown.
Once the racing started I was a winner on the first race and then it all went downhill. My chum Richard joined us and he proceeded to win his first three races before retiring unbeaten with a smug expression on his face.
|Paul Johnson on-loan from Pools|
We left before the end and headed to the nearby Tithe Bar as we were desperate for some good beer but it was great to hear that over £1400 was raised – well done to Geoff, Steve, Rich and all the others who made this a very enjoyable and profitable evening.
Next day there was the faintest semblance of a Newcastle Brown fuzzy headiness – all those nasty chemicals no doubt - but by the time I’d walked to the station my head was almost clear. There were a few train spotter-types around and I soon saw why when I noticed a plume of smoke south of the station. A minute later the City Of Truro thundered through on its way north. A nice start to the day.
Once in Darlington, first stop was Alfie’s for breakfast in the covered market – excellent as always and with a great vantage point from which to watch everyone going about their business. After that I had a wander round the shops, popped into Taylors for pies and then arrived at the Quaker dead on opening time – first one in!
And on the bar we had: High House Farm Auld Hemp and 5th Anniversary, Storr Peerless (lager), Naylors Aire Valley Bitter, Hadrian & Border Ouseburn Porter, Jarrow Red Ellen, York Terrier, Wensleydale German (lager) plus a rugby beer, Belhaven Grand Slam, which I ignored out of principle.
The two lagers were not too bad at all and so I stuck to them once I'd done the rounds of the other new beers.
And then up at Number Twenty-2 we had another great range - Hexhamshire Whapweasel, Scottish Borders Dark Horse, Little Valley Pontius Hebdenus, Marston English Pale Ale, Hill House Farm Nel's Best, Hambleton Bitter and the usual house beers. I couldn't get through most of these but the Whapweasel and Pontius Hebdenus stood out for me.
And then to the main business of the day - our match against Ebbsfleet who'd we played off the park just a few weeks ago with what we had hoped was a revivial of our fortunes. Instead we have a pale imitation of the side that won three pints that day.
As ever we're almost down to bare bones and we've had to bring in a young lad – Paul Johnson - on loan from Hartlepool who will partner Kris Taylor in the centre of the defence.
The new pairing were quite busy in the first half but seemed to be holding up well but at the other end Darlington had little to offer with Ryan Bowman not really making keeper Cronin work too hard.
The first half was far from memorable apart from when a woeful shot - or backpass - came straight at yours truly but I'm pleased to report that I was able to calmly head it away. One of the few things to get a cheer at that point in the game. I'm wasted on my stool, you know.
Darlington came out for the second half as if they'd had a rollocking but any positive movement was cancelled out within minutes as the new central pairing failed to pick up Enver-Marum who hit home from close range.
And two minutes later the Kentish men had doubled their lead after more lax defending allowed Ughu to slot home from just inside the box.
Darlington rallied a little but it was powder-puff stuff and other than Bowman hitting the woodwork, we never looked like pulling a goal back. Too many players seemed out of sorts and the end of the game couldn't come quick enough for the fans.
After such a performance I was glad I only had the ten minute trip back to Northallerton. I met Martin at the station and then we were joined again by Drewe Broughton who was once again on the train back south.
Drewe made no attempt to hide his frustration at the result and was at a loss for the apparent communal off-day.
During my brief stint on the train we chatted about his fitness business -- used by many lower division pros when they're getting fitness back after injuries. You can see that it is something he really enjoys which is probably just as well as his time with us must be very frustrating. It is certainly is for us...