Written by Paul Hardie
Game 24. Last game of the season. I can't believe it. Time has flown by and the boys have developed both physically and mentally so well both as individuals and as a team over the course of the season. The opposition tonight is highflying Humbledon who took off on an unstoppable run to promotion after beating us 6-3 at their place in the game before Christmas. We used two rookie keepers in a crazy game of little or no action or skill but since then their record reads played 12 won 11 drawn 1 and they have only just run out of games to catch up Boldon for the title.
It was supposed to be a 6pm kick off on what turned out to be a most pleasant and sunny evening although it was still jumper and coat temperatures. However the ref was late because he had to finish off his pud before he was allowed out to play so we were well late in kicking off. We were on the big pitch today which i always prefer as you can enjoy the hilltop view of proceedings on the field as well as see the boys play on a bigger pitch with more wide open spaces to defend and attack.
We had the full squad of 14 to choose from but Neal was still appearing to carry his injured arm but you cannot fault his bottle for courage in turning up to do his duty but he really couldn't be risked today in the circumstances. Jamie
was on his lonesome though to pick the team as Kris chose to chase the Yankee Dollar on local election night and try, unsuccessfully as it happened, to watch his beloved Irons outmuscle the Bluebirds.
I told my dad who was here to watch his first game since the 4 nil demolition of Real back in September that things were a little bit more blood and thunder than he'd seen before with the lads but it hadn't put him off, and neither did that comedian Tim thinking me and my dad were twins either. Ha ha. Very funny.
Once again the recent 4-5-1 formation was unleashed with Lewis Morgan
(LM) and his extra lung leading the line as we eventually kick off the game at 6.22pm with Old Man Tom unselfishly turning up for flag duty. What a bloke!
2 mins - Joe
wallace wins it and plays a simple ball to Connor
heywood who skips past his man just inside their half and surprises the cover with his turn of pace as he gets to the edge of their box before clipping in a cross which the keeper comes off his line to claim. Good start.
3 mins - Humbledon respond with a long ball forward which drops behind the defence. Charlie Rochester
comes off his line to gather the ball at the top of the bounce.
4 mins - another ball played into the space behind the defence. Charlie and the forward collide and end up in a heap and the loose ball is hacked clear by Lewis Maxwell
5 mins - it's not quite route one as the Humbledon approach play is good but in it goes to the box again. Joe
and Sam Hardie
double up and we clear to safety again.
6 mins - we hustle the ball up the right flank as Connor
takes on a ball from Jake
Hall. LM puts in a throw and it falls to Luca Citrone
but his shot is way over the bar.
8 mins - Humbledon win a throw down the left near our box. They throw it inside and we fluff the interception. The shot is well meant from the edge of the area but is always too high.
14 mins - at the minute we are losing the midfield battle as they find time and space to knock it where and when they want. The back four are under intense pressure and after Jamie
and Maxi deal with a threat down our right side; Sam and Joe
do likewise down our left as they try to release the right winger on a run.
15 mins - Sam reads the through ball but completely shanks his clearance to concede the first corner of the game. It's not a good one though and we deal with it comfortably.
16 mins - a little bit of Wreka football as Jamie
Gardner does well to win a ball inside our half and plays it to Jake
. He beats his man before finding the feet of Connor
who plays it first time for LM to chase it down but the Humbledon defence shepherd it behind for a goal kick.
18 mins - a high ball is clipped in again. Joe
does really well to defend the back post after a bit of panic in the area so they have to knock it back and start their attack elsewhere. They move it across the face of the box without too much trouble and out wide left again. Another floater is put in and this time it sits up beautifully for the unmarked forward who stares into the whites of Charlie's eyes inside the 6 yard box. He cleverly nods it over the advancing Charlie towards the net and as the away support get ready to cheer the opening goal and the home support resign themselves to going behind The Shark appears from nowhere to cover the goal and acrobatically overhead kicks the ball off the line, onto the post and away. Cisse scored the Premiership Goal of the Season last night and Sam competes with the possible Goal Line Clearance of the Season tonight. Superb defending to keep it at nil nil.
20 mins - a Wreka foothold in midfield. Callum
Smith to Luca and then onto Chris Jackson
. He cuts infield to find Connor
. Out to LM on the left wing who sweeps in a cross but it is well defended. Good approach play by Wreka though.
24 mins - Wreka win a corner. It is half cleared but Sam puts the ball back in. It travels over to Callum
who is in the box but out wide left. He has options but takes a touch and fires it low into the side netting without troubling the keeper.
28 mins - Humbledon look to release the ball to the fast and strong forwards at every opportunity and as the right winger breaks into our box Maxi gets in the covering block and Callum
completes the clearance. Good defending.
30 mins - we are under more pressure in and around our box. Jamie
fires one clear and this one is in the vicinity of the tireless LM. He chases it down and, after a slice by the under pressure defender, he decides to keep it in play and have a go himself rather than let it go out for a throw in and wait for reinforcements. As it bounces up he heads it down the line and sets off with the ball at his feet. He bursts past two covering defenders and gets into their box before looking up and knocking a ball across goal. Jake
has bust a gut to get up there in support but it looks as if his run will take him in front of the ball but he manages to adjust his feet and body position to allow him to twist and hit the ball on the volley with his right boot. The keeper dives full length but the technique and execution is superb and the ball finds the bottom corner of the net as Wreka take an unlikely lead in the match. Great forward play by LM to set it up coupled with an excellent finish by Jake
31 mins - Humbledon force us back again and Luca covers in behind to clear the danger.
32 mins - the midfield is starting to win some ball in midfield which gives us the chance to attack. Jake
battles well and feeds Connor
. He slips it past his marker who then handles the ball on the deck in a dangerous position just 25 yards from goal. Luca steps up to take it and i believe the ball is now safely in orbit as it headed ever skywards.
34 mins - still Humbledon ping it about and we are chasing shadows again. The ball is meant to go between two of our players which it doesn't. However with no call leading to confusion and hesitation we fail to clear and they get down the left. Sam manages to skim the ball away from the forward at the near post but it drops nicely at the back post and with Joe
doing his best to get his body between the ball and the goal in classic defender’s mode the shot is blazed across the face of goal and just wide. That was a chance.
The ref blows for half time in a game played in the right spirit by both teams. In reality Humbledon dominated proceedings and possession but Charlie was not really called upon too often. Sam manufactured a goal line clearance from nowhere and LM set up a chance for Jake
out of nothing that was superbly finished with a stunning controlled volley to give us a rather undeserved lead.
The defence had been brilliant both individually and in teaming up to stem the tide of attacks as the midfield found it very hard going to get close enough to close down the spaces and get the tackles in, though it certainly wasn't for the lack of trying for the most part.
made just the one change at half time to try something new as Ash came on for Callum
Humbledon start the last half of the season for both teams at 7.02pm. They move it quickly into our area and Sam clears. Back it comes and this time Jamie
gets to the ball first, knocks it clear, and completes the tidy up himself. Good defensive work.
37 mins - Wreka break and Ash Baltazar shows great pace and determination to hurry the defender into conceding the first corner of the second half. LM hits it deep and Connor
and Sam both go for it. It drops to Jake
who hooks a ball towards goal and sees it drop not too far beyond the far post.
39 mins - end to end stuff as Humbledon get clear down the right. The winger cuts it back but luckily for us it is behind the centre forward and Jamie
40 mins - back come Humbledon but this time down the left. The cross comes in and the flick header ends up presenting an excellent shooting chance from 12 yards out but the shot is looped up and over the bar.
41 mins - a flowing move from Wreka as Jamie
finds Chris who plays it down the line for Ash to run into space. He flicks it square to LM who switches it out right for Jake
and his cross is deflected to Luca but the shot is always fading wide.
43 mins - LM puts in a throw and we win a corner which he puts in to the near post. Connor
gets a head on it but it flashes wide. Ash does well to keep it in and it finds its way to Sam just outside the box. He chips it to Jake
who hits a first timer which is bravely blocked by the defender and Luca hits the rebound wide.
45 mins - Humbledon win a corner and we clear quickly and break forward in numbers. LM has turned it down the wing for Connor
to run onto and when it is put into the box Chris hits it in his stride from 10 yards out but it is straight at the keeper who does well to react and grab onto it. That was a good chance.
46 mins - Humbledon come right at us and slip a ball into our box for the forward to stride onto but Maxi gets a toe in to concede a corner. Great covering. The corner is deep from the right flank. It is flicked to the left edge of the box. The forward dummies his marker and gets a yard of space before clipping a ball in which hits Connor
on the arm as he comes to close down the space. It has to be a penalty even though it was not deliberate.
47 mins - bizarrely they send their keeper up to take it much to the annoyance of their own centre forward. Up he steps and hits it low and soft to Charlie's right. Charlie has guessed the right way and saves easily enough although he doesn't hold onto it first time! What a fantastic penalty saving record he has this season - 4 out of 5 i have been told, although i'm not sure if that includes one which completely missed the target.
50 mins - the centre forward is still smarting from not being given the penalty to take and when he slightly over cooks a touch and Sam comes in to rob him he goes clean through Sam and the ref quickly blows and warns him as to his future conduct and tells him to calm down. Good refereeing as no lasting damage is done.
52 mins - LM and the defender go for the same ball in the air and crack heads. Play is halted for a couple of minutes but there were no brains to damage and both players are fit to continue.
53 mins - from the restart we swing it out wide to Connor
down the right. He shows good skill to get past his man and put in a cross which wins us a corner.
58 mins - Humbledon overload down our left and Sam gets over to cover and block the cross. The corner is a dangerous inswinger which Charlie fists out for another one but damages his wrist in doing so. He continues after a bit of treatment.
59 mins - the second corner is knocked to the edge of our box and we fail on three separate occasions to clear properly. The shot comes in but is straight at the keeper.
60 mins - Joe
has been in the thick of things in this second half and once again is up to the task as he stands up the winger, gets his tackle in and plays it down the wing. He is having a stormer tonight.
62 mins - Jamie
is doing similar defensive work in the right back position. He stands up strong and challenges for the bouncing ball. He makes the tackle and then tucks the ball inside for Ethan
Langford to take on and get into their half. He then slips a ball in behind for Connor
to run onto inside their box. He has a clear sighter on goal but drags his shot wide of the far post.
65 mins - Humbledon are still looking for that elusive equaliser. We keep them outside our box but the low shot comes in which Charlie saves with his legs. The corner is a belter right inside our six yard box. It drops at the back post and they want the ball more than us and manage to force it over the line. 1-1.
66 mins - the ref has indicated he is going to blow for full time although i still make it nearly 5 minutes of normal time plus stoppages to go. Sam tells Luca to launch it from the kick off which he does. LM has made up ground on the defender, wins it and gets wide to fire in a ball which Connor
moves onto but slices away from goal. Ash gets to it and lobs it at goal but the keeper saves easily enough and sure enough the ref blows up early to end an excellent game of what turned out to be end to end stuff played for the most part in the right spirit.
And with that last bit of dramatic action the season draws to a close. We end up with a deserved point against the most in form team in the division after an excellent second half display in which we proved our worth. Unfortunately we conceded right near the death but Humbledon deserved a goal for their first half dominance alone. In this game we proved once and for all that we are up there with the biggest and strongest teams and can compete and if we had only had that team belief from day one then we would be in the top 4 and not just hanging outside.
We were on the back foot for most of the first half and with the midfield struggling to get into the game the back four stood up to be counted as individuals and as a group. With Charlie in sparkling form behind them this group kept us in the game until our forward play was cranked up a notch later in the game. We also have Three Lungs chasing down every ball up top which has seen us have an extra dimension in these last few games and it was from one of his selfless chases that we sprang a surprise with a brilliant strike from Jake
In the second half the midfield machine got involved all over the pitch and we created more chances than them as a result but we couldn’t find the killer second goal, and in the end we had to settle for a draw when they equalised near the end. It was a splendid game to end the season with and we must wish good luck to Humbledon as they head up to Division 1 next season. We end up with our best run of form to end with as we took three wins and a draw from teams above and around us in our last four games. If only we hadn’t lost games against Washington and Gateshead earlier this year when we were struggling to find the net we would probably be on course for our third promotion on the spin.
Everybody put a shift in today in some shape or form because if they hadn’t we would have been simply overrun. You could argue a case for nearly everybody to be considered for m.o.m. but in the end it was over to Jamie
Gardner who controlled his flank well for the whole game, linked up well with Maxi to provide additional strength when needed in central defence, and also found the time to get forward and support the midfield in attacking positions. He even played head tennis in the first half and made three consecutive headed clearances in one sustained attack which equals the total amount of headers he had made in the whole of the season. This proved once and for all that the thing on a footballer’s neck called a head is there to head the ball. The clue is in the name. Well played young fellow!
All that remains now is the end of season thank you, best wishes, and goodbye list to keep you going until September when it will all start again. Hopefully everyone has their own memories from this season – happy, sad, funny, pathetic, brilliant, not so brilliant or whatever else – these may be better tweeted in on another forum for debate and merriment.
We’ll start with a list of thank you’s for which, and to which, we simply would not be here as a group. They are in no particular order so nothing should be read into the order that they appear and any abuse intended or otherwise is supposed to be merely in jest. Well some of it anyway –
Wrekenton Nou Camp YFC – for inviting us into the club even though you already had an U14’s team on your books. Hopefully we have done you proud over the season and will continue to do so next season as U15’s. The committee and other member’s who have made us all feel welcome at the club do’s, pitch, and associated facilities.
Wreka Oranges U14’s who could have spat their dummy out and said no to another U14 joining them
Norman “No Weather” who tends to the pitches and grounds regardless of conditions as no weather puts him off. He is an all round good bloke.
and Kris who continue to mentor the boys into their teenage grumpy years and take with good grace the fact that most of the lads are now taller than them which makes it really hard to count how many players we have on match days when everyone has their Wreka jackets on. The coaches not only give up their time on match and training days there is an awful lot of work and time and effort goes into many things behind the scenes which the players would do well to remember and respect at times. They have given the team a continuity throughout the years which lends itself to the spirit we can see and enjoy in performances on the pitch.
Steve “Wreka Sec” Morgan. Another tireless performance behind the scenes, collecting monies, buying kit, organising social stuff, scouting other games, tweeting non-stop, helping out with training or matches, picking up players and dropping them off, and loads and loads of other stuff as well. Every club or team needs one of these. Only one though. Two would just be annoying. And he’s useless as a linesman.
Jessica “Oddjobs” Morgan. She is that strange creature that appears to enjoy being dragged left, right, and centre to cold dark wet places to watch her older brother kick a spherical thing around the pitch most Sundays and the occasional week night as well. She doesn’t stop at that though as she has rediscovered her Nurse Jessie role over the last few weeks as we now seem to have a proper bucket again as she rushes on the pitch with a lot of cold muddy water to throw on the injured players. Usually her brother so I can see the enjoyment for her now. However perhaps the biggest thing this young lady does for us is raise money on match days by selling raffle tickets to all and sundry, and just who can resist her cheeky little grin when she comes looking for your pound in the hope that you might win a bottle of Blue Nun, as she has single handedly raised enough funds to cover our referee costs this season which is a major feat. Well done young lady. I would like to add here that she personally presented me with a case of beer last night which meant an awful lot to me, and was made extra special because you came to give it to me.
Big Ian the Daft Lad from Wreka for his continued sponsorship of the team which helps in no small part for paying the fines he attracts when we play away in 5under1and.
The WI who turn up looking lovely to help out in any way they can and allow their husbands to be big, daft and stupid on a regular basis. They remain the best looking ladies in the league – even when they have overdone it the night before and think a big pair of sunglasses on an overcast day in some hellhole place, with extra lippy thrown on for good measure, will hide their sins.
The players. In an end of season squad that was down to 14 in numbers for giving us old “ex” players a reason to get up on a Sunday, but hopefully not as early as we have had to on a number of occasions this year – message to coaches & sec – be more choosy with kick off times please. Hopefully this squad, or most of it, will prove to be the nucleus for next years battles which I look forward to enjoying. And keep those detentions/exclusions from school to a minimum so your mam’s don’t suspend you from playing – and keep off the beer and tabs – just look at some of the clips standing around watching you every week to see that it does you no good in the end.
Old Tom the keenest assistant referee/linesman/pain with a flag in the whole of the north east. His enthusiasm is catching but he still won’t admit when he gets one wrong. To still come up to watch us, and take the flag, is a fitting tribute to his madness.
If the WI get a mention then the Wreka Ultras also deserve a mention as they get to look more and more like the characters off The Dirty Dozen film from years back (kids google it to see what I mean) or are we just a bunch of Mr Men characters instead. Carlo “The Hat” (Mr Pointment – think about it), Ian “Ladders” (Mr Fixit), Big Ian who already is named and shamed above (Mr Laid Back), Graeme “Cuckoo’s Nest” Bowman (Mr Silly), Tim “The Ladies Man” (has many more names most of which are unprintable but some of them are Mr Creepy Crawley and Mr Unfunny), Steve “Wreka Sec” (Mr Busy), Stevie Wallace (Mr Calm) and my good self (Mr Quiet).
And last but not least to all our other supporters no matter how old or young.
Best wishes and goodbye go out to Samuel, Connor
who all left us at different stages of the season and our thanks go out to these stalwarts of the sides over the last few years which in some cases stretch back to our very first year playing. And best wishes to their families and siblings that we may no longer see supporting us on the sidelines.
And that just leaves a little goodbye from me. Goodbye.