Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hebburn, We're In Hebburn...

A very rushed start to the day - I wake up late by my standards - just 90 mins to get up and into Kings Cross for our 8am train.  This is more than enough but it means I'll have to get a move if I want to squeeze in a breakfast as well.

When walking round Kings Cross the other week I noticed that our usual breakfasterie - Da Vincis - is no more.  It has been revamped and is now part of the Best Mangal chain which seems to be glorified kebab bars.

We tried a cafe I 've been in before - the Station Sandwich Bar - the breakfast is perfunctory with mediocre ingredients - not very enjoyable, especially after all the rush. I suspect we'll try somewhere else next time.

It is my first train trip for quite a few weeks - nice to be back on-board, watching the world go by and providing some company for Martin. Tony joins us at Darlo and then we meet Trev, John, Rich and a few others at Newcastle Central station.

After dumping my overnight bag at left luggage and getting our Metro tickets, we wander through Chinatown to the Newcastle Arms where the landlord was busy washing the front steps. 

Not a bad choice at the bar - Big Lamp Prince Bishop, Full Mash IPA, Gundog Pale Ale and one smokey beer, Anarchy Smoke Bomb, that looks a bit odd but tastes really nice. The Gundog Pale Ale is tasty too.

After a couple of rounds, we wander down to the Bridge Hotel where we meet Ian Swalwell.  Not long after that yet another of my old University chums, Chin (Andy), turns up for a reunion.  Rocky (Dave) turns up too. Interestingly it seems I'm the only one who still calls them by their nicknames.

At the bar we have an excellent choice featuring Abbeydale Deception, Marble Bitter, Williams Midnight Sun, Hadrian & Border High Level, Outstanding Selling Out, Salopian Hop Twister and, on keg, Three Towns St Erics Pale Ale (which is excellent but doesn't last long).

We then head off back to Central station and take the Metro out to Hebburn. On arrival I check my map and take everyone the wrong way, eventually having to ask for directions. Whatever!

A small-ish ground, just one stand that straddles the middle of the pitch and then two standing ends. The fourth side is for us by officials only.

It looked like Hebburn were carrying on from where they left off a few days earlier - a defeat to Darlo at Heritage Park that some saw some very enthusiastic tackling - and by the 25th minute they were down to nine men.

The pitch was not one that encouraged good football - it looked more like hiking terrain than a playing field - and from the off, Hebburn were determined to knock Darlo out of their stride.  Dowson was fouled in the penalty box after ten minutes and Galbraith scored from the spot.

Hebburn though were level within minutes after some poor defending in the Darlo box as they failed to clear a high ball into the box. Totally against the run of play.

We've not had a gratuitous floodlight
shot for a while so here we go
However Darlo had soon regained the lead when Dowson was brought down outside the box - defender Harrison was deemed to be the last man and so he was shown the red card.  From the free-kick Gott scored via a deflection from the Hebburn wall.

It wasn't long before Hebburn were down to nine men after Forsyth - booked for the initial penalty - received a second yellow.  Credit to Hebburn though as they frustrated the Quakers for the rest of the half and it remained 2-1 at the interval.

Hebburn continued to make it difficult for Darlo in the second half - not surprisingly Darlo dominated in terms of possession, making inroads down the wings. but failed to make the most of their chances. Hebburn keeper Regan also made some excellent saves.

After sixty minutes the Hebburn resistance was finally broken as Purewal slide in to poke home a cross from Galbraith. 

The Quakers visibly relaxed, pressing continually for the rest of the half which saw them add four more goals to the tally in the final ten minutes.

As well as a welcome three points, Darlo looked to have escaped without any major injuries - their refusal to get involved in the rough-house tactics employed by Hebburn was no doubt a major factor.

In all other respects the Hebburn officials and fans seemed a decent bunch - there was some excellent on offer though the (chinese) curry sauce was rather thin for my liking. I'm fussy about such things.

We were all back in Newcastle by 5:30pm - Martin and Iain headed off to catch the train back to London - whilst I checked into the Royal Station hotel.

Tony had stayed on for a few beers and I joined him in the Town Wall.  The Saturday night crowd was beginning to gather but we had a chance to try a couple of really good beers - Portobello Porter (a new brewery from west London) and Allendale End22 Simcoe Single. Both are excellent.

Tony finally had to drag himself back to Darlington for the race night so I popped up to the Trent House, near Leazes Park. This is where I I used to drink in the early 80s, about the time that the first copies of Viz used to be sold here.

Rich, John and Andy were here, going through the card, so I had a couple of halves. Other than acquiring a soul music-theme, the place hasn't changed much since I was a student (though my graffiti in the gents has finally been painted over).

My next port of call was the Crown Posada where I had a quick pint - the place was very full with nowhere to sit so after supping up, I popped outside and caught a taxi to the Cluny.

Brian Bond - in your face
As soon as I walked though the door I bumped into Keith Newman, from Radio Northumberland. He has a show called New Wave With Newman where he plays new wave and punk favourites as well as some new stuff.  He is a big Punilux fan too and has featured them heavily on his show. 

We meet Alan Crawthorne who, like me, is a big Bill Nelson and someone I've communicated with via the internet in recent years. Nice to finally meet him at last.

Also there is former Mission Impossible editor and, more recently, music impresario, Steve Harland, who has come up from Teesside with a load of his mates.

As well as bumping into Steve and Jimi from the band, I'm introduced to Rob Blamire who is bassist in Ferryhill's finest, Penetration. It was through seeing Penetration at the City Hall in 1978 that I first heard and saw Punishment of Luxury so I have cause to be thankful.

As on-stage time approaches we head towards the gig hall - not completely full but a decent crowd.  I have my camera but decide to just take the odd shot so that I can concentrate on really enjoying the gig. Which I do.

The set is much the same as usual - all based on the Laughing Academy album rounded off with a storming version of the Brainbomb single. 

I pop into the dressing room with Keith for a chat with Nev and find a teenage girl collecting autographs - go younger generation!  We leave the band in peace after a while and Keith drops me back at my hotel.  It has been a long but very pleasurable day and I'm ready for bed.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Geoff Luke RIP

Football lost another of the good guys when our Plymouth Argyle-supporting chum, Geoff Luke, died recently.

He was a true man of Cornwall, working as secretary at Truro City in addition to supporting the Argyle. Like many young men, he came to London in the 1970s to seek his fame and fortune and one of his first jobs there was that of assistant secretary at West Ham United.

It was in London that he helped create the Plymouth Argyle Supporters London Branch in 1976 which boasts a membership in the high hundreds and in ethos is not so different from our very own DAFTS.

In those dark pre-internet days, communications were all done by mail and Geoff housed the branch photocopier in the living room of his flat. Ever the trusting man, several committee members helds keys to the flat so they could pop in and copy a few pages for the newsletter whenever they had some spare time.

Martin and Geoff before the FA
Trophy final at Wembley
Another hobby that Geoff was heavily involved in was table football and in his prime he was an England international. For the last twenty years or more he has organised an annual tournament in St Agnes that was highly regarded amongst the finger flicking fraternity.

Geoff made his first visit to Feethams with Colin Fletcher, his table soccer buddy, and was always happy to come and sample the DAFTS pre-match atmosphere at various Darlo games in the south of England (including the FA Trophy final win at Wembley).

Over recent years I got to know Geoff very well - like me he was always ready and willing to go to beer festivals or try out new pubs in the burgeoning beer scene in London - he was great company and we got on famously.

Geoff would disappear for weeks on end though as he visited the farthest corners of Europe attending football matches at all levels of the game.

It was typical of his cheeky nature that he managed to get press accreditation for two Russian World Cup qualifiers by saying he was editor of the Pasty Times (the PASLB magazine).  It impressed the Russian FA and he made it to the press box!

If you asked how he could afford all these trips as a pensioner, he'd tell you he'd budgeted for such a life-style until he was 80.  What happens after that, I'd always ask jokingly? Will you turn up on our doorsteps all bereft?  Sadly we'll never know. 

I'm very grateful that I was able to share his last day with us.  Argyle's match at Southend was called off so after a flurry of texts, he joined myself and fellow drinker Chris Turner (Rotherham's game also called off) in the Euston Tap at noon.

Howard was also in town so he popped along for an hour before he left we three to start a bit of a pub crawl - first to the recently opened Hops & Glory on Essex Road before heading off to Dukes Brew & Que where they brew their own beer. Good stuff it is too

Geoff won the 50-50 draw at our game at Hayes &
Yeading back in 2011.  Ever the gentleman, he spent
most of it on beers
for all his friends.
Our final destination was the Fox on Kingsland Road - an area of London's east end that was once a beer desert but which is now an up and coming district.  It was a pub we'd been to several months ago on one of our crawls of discovery.  We quite liked it - a decent beer choice even if the clientele consisted of loud-talking, trendy types about half our age.

After a few beers, we called it a day at 7pm - fairly compos mentis as we'd been taking it relatively easy throughout the day - Geoff headed off north to catch a bus and then pick up his train whilst Chris and I went south - he home to south London whilst I, having got a second wind, wandered back to the Euston Tap for a few more beers.

What I didn't know until the following Tuesday that whilst on the train home, Geoff suffered a massive heart attack and died.

It is a oft-given cliche but nonetheless true to say that he was taken before his time. At his funeral this week, it was clear from all the tributes made to him that he played a significant part in many people's lives and would leave a huge gap behind.

 RIP Geoff Luke, b. 19 September 1947, d. 19 January 2013.