Gateshead FC: I could get used to this…

During a large part of my teenage years, I couldn’t afford to watch Newcastle United go and play football. Fortunately, for the most part this coincided with the time pre-Keegan when we were rubbish anyway, so I wasn’t missing much. I still supported them, I just couldn’t afford to go and see them. I was a kid, after all.

However, I still wanted to get to watch football on a Saturday afternoon (back when football was played on a Saturday afternoon even in the top flight), so I started watching my nearest non-league team, Gateshead FC, who were then in the Vauxhall Conference.

This came about basically because of the ‘divorced Dad’ situation. I don’t think my parents were technically divorced at the time, but they were separated, and this meant that when my Dad was up visiting, you have to do that ‘Divorced Dad and Kid’ thing, which basically means that you’ve got to try and find something enjoyable to do on a weekend with your parents, at precisely that time in your life when “having an enjoyable time” and “spending time with your parents” are virtually mutually exclusive.

I mean, as a fifteen year old male, I either wanted to play football with some mates, play computer football with some mates, play board games with some mates, play on the computer by myself, read a book by myself, or just play with ….

…well, I was a fifteen year old boy, what do you expect?

Anyway, as none of these activities were really suitable for the ‘Divorced Dad’ thing, we had to try and find some shared interest that didn’t involve vegetating in front of the television, and our choice was football. Unfortunately, Newcastle weren’t at home on that particular day, and I point-blank refused to go to watch Sunderland again (he’d made me do that once before), this left us with either Darlington or Gateshead FC.

On the theory that if we were going to spend money watching crap football, we might as well watch the one closer to home where it will probably be cheaper anyway, we turned up to watch Gateshead FC play Wycombe Wanderers.

I don’t particularly remember much about the match, other than a chap called Keith Scott (who was briefly on loan to Gateshead from Lincoln City) scored before I think being injured in that match and returning to Lincoln. Bizarrely I can find Keith’s stats on Soccerbase, but despite other non-league clubs being listed, no reference to him playing for Gateshad in 1990-91.

Now this something where I know my memories aren’t playing tricks on me, because I remember that same season him signing for Wycombe from Lincoln (the stats back me up) and thinking that he’d scored for us, against them earlier that season. I also remember him playing for Swindon in the Premier League (again the stats back me up) and thinking “I’m pleased to see the Gateshead old boy doing well!”, and I doubt I would have remembered Keith Scott had it not been for him progressing as far as the Premier League.

With Gateshead, you see, you don’t exactly have an expectation of success. The first season I started going to see them, they were thumped 9-0 at home by Sutton United, who to my enormous satisfaction were relegated at the end of that season and we weren’t (league table).

Although after hanging on for a few more years we dropped out of the conference and haven’t made it back since.

But there have been some “glory days”. In the olden days, or the 1950s as it was then known, we beat Liverpool in the FA Cup and made it as far as the quarter-finals before being knocked out. However, by the time I’d started going to see them, the best we ever managed was “glory days, relatively speaking”.

We reached the first round of the FA Cup (normally having to play three or four qualifying rounds to get that far) and got beat 3-2 by Accrington Stanley. Another year we lost 2-0 to Cambridge United in Cambridge, when myself and several school friends (whom I’d quickly convinced to follow Gateshead after my first game) went down on the supporters’ club coach.

Another year, I travelled independently with a couple of other friends down to The Shay, to see Gateshead account for Halifax 2-0 in the first round of the FA Cup, and surprise the official supporters club coach who were shocked when the seventy of them arrived in the ground shortly before kick off to find us three away fans already there.

The next round wasn’t quite so successful though: being picked up on a coach at 7 a.m. to spend the best part of seven hours on a coach heading down to Swindon, watching Gateshead get thumped 5-0 and then spending another six hours sitting on the coach on the way back. Thirteen hours on a coach in one day to watch a five nil defeat: the life of the non-league fan…!

So my expectations were set conveniently low, and as the team appeared to deteriorate over a few years, my expectations dropped further, including the one where I expected to go to matches now and again, and then I got a Newcastle season ticket and returned to my beloved Magpies, and other than keeping an eye out for results, stayed fairly well clear of Gateshead FC.

But this year, I don’t have a Newcastle season ticket. And this year, Gateshead are looking like a decent team again. Just look at this start to the season:

  1. UPL (A) Eastwood Town — won 3-1
  2. UPL (H) Whitby Town — won 2-1
  3. UPL (A) Worksop Town — won 4-0
  4. UPL (H) Frickley Athletic — won 5-2
  5. UPL (H) Hednesford Town — won 6-2
  6. UPL (A) North Ferriby — won 4-1
  7. FAC 1Q (H) Selby Town — won 6-1

Seven games, seven wins, thirty goals scored. Not a bad start by any standards. I might have to take a wander down to the International Stadium again.

Of course, you could just call me a ‘glory hunter’, for supporting a team that’s six divisions below the top flight and three divisions below the league itself.

On the other hand, maybe the away trips to places like Barrow and Workington I’ve been on to watch Gateshead, and the sheer number of times I’ve seen them play Runcorn ought to convince people that I’ve suffered enough to be entitled to enjoy the brief good times…

8 Responses to “Gateshead FC: I could get used to this…”

  1. mark fairlamb responds:

    heed army

  2. Anonymous responds:

    glory seeker not a true supporter

  3. gadster responds:

    there is no one man greater than the heed army

  4. anonymous responds:

    glory seeker, but hey goatshead need all the fans they can get!!!! fickel bunch of part time glory hunters, the lot of them!!!!!

  5. gadster responds:

    gateshead will rise again like a phoenix from the flames
    and will again command gates of thousands.

  6. gadster responds:

    keep the faith be at the match tomorrow and support the heed army ,its your duty.

  7. grand master tickle responds:

    thought gateshed were a little unlucky on saturday,
    will get back to winning ways at lincoln

  8. gadster responds:

    gmt keep the faith

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