Train Strikes, Again!
To say our plans have been affected this weekend is an understatement!
The original plan was to take in the game between Hull City and Luton Town. This fixture fell victim to TV fixture roulette and was moved to a 19:45 kick-off on Friday evening. This left us with two return train tickets to Hull.
I checked the Hull area for fixtures and came across an interesting one – North Ferriby v Yorkshire Amateur. I bought an extra pair of train tickets for the short journey from Hull to Ferriby and of course, the train union decided to kibosh this one too by announcing another series of strike dates.
October 1st was looking like a doomed day!
I looked for fixtures easily accessible by bus and there were some interesting local options but I eventually settled on this one.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE… sort out the dispute with train staff! In a world that is supposed to be going greener, we should be encouraging the use of public transport, not making it unavailable altogether!
Despite not being a huge fan of football, Mrs Hopper has been by my side throughout our travels across the UK so far. Therefore, today feels a little weird without her.
We have our own small, run-from-home business and as I’m sure you will understand, times are very tough for small businesses at the moment. Costs keep rising and it’s difficult morally, for us to keep raising prices too. It just doesn’t sit right with us. Therefore, we are looking at new products to add to our range in the hope that extra volume can nullify rising costs.
With this in mind, Mrs Hopper has elected to stay at home for today’s Hop, to work on refining last-minute details before releasing our latest products.
So, feeling like my right arm is missing, I set off on a pretty close journey to the southern bank of the River Tyne, to Hebburn.
Hebburn Town – Journey and Stadium
The journey to Hebburn is a relatively short one for me. A bus from my home to Gateshead and a connection to Hebburn College. From there it is a simple walk along Victoria Road West and a left turn down South Drive, to the Green Energy Sports Ground, home of Hebburn Town. A total walk time of around ten minutes, passing the Grantham Town team bus along the way.
After walking through the lovely gates with the club crest on them, you come to a turnstile. Entry is by cash or card for £8 per person. Once through, you are on the path leading to the highlight of this ground – the social club.
What a superb facility this is and there are clubs much higher up the footballing pyramid who would love to have this building transferred to their own ground. A double-tiered building with a bar on each level and a balcony on the upper level where you can watch the match with a beer if that’s your thing.
TV screens were dotted around on both levels, showing the North London derby between Arsenal and Spurs and the furniture was nice and comfortable to sit in too. It would be really tempting to stay here during the game on a miserable winter’s day.
On this day, however, the sun was shining and just a small breeze was riffling through the Tyneside air.
After taking photos and videos of the view from the balcony, I finished my Guinness and wandered back downstairs to have a look around the ground.
The ground itself isn’t quite up to the standards of the social club but it is still of a very nice standard for this level of the pyramid. To the left and behind the nearest goal, is a double row of seating that runs roughly the length of the 18-yard area.
Carry on around the path and you come to the sideline that contains the biggest stand at Hebburn Town. This stand appears to be a safe standing area with optional seating on benches and this would be where the majority of Grantham Town’s small but noisy following congregated during the first half.
On either side of this larger stand are two blocks of temporary-style seating blocks, containing four rows of fourteen seats each.
Behind the goal furthest from the social club is a small standing area which is partially covered in the middle section. This is where the Grantham fans moved during the second half as their team attacked that end of the pitch.
The final section of the ground is the sideline opposite the main stand. This is comprised of standing room only and is where the dugouts are located. There is also a building that I assume is for TV cameras to make club highlights and where the matchday announcer reads announcements from.
Off to the side of this touchline is a training area the size of another full football pitch, where youngsters were playing a game and it completes an overall impression of a club that is making the most of what it has and maintaining good standards.
Impressive for a club in level 8 of the pyramid system!
Hebburn Town – Pre-Game Video of Green Energy Sports Ground
With kick-off approaching, I decided to go and see what the food was like. There is a small window in the bottom right-hand side of the social club with a kitchen facility inside. From here they sell hot dogs, pies, burgers and chips – the usual football food. I ordered chips and a Pukka pie with gravy at a total cost of £4.00. Some clubs charge more than this just to read the menu, so excellent value.
Just in time, too. The players were about to enter the pitch.
Hebburn Town – Teams Enter the field & Kick-Off
Hebburn Town – The Game
The music coming over the tannoy alerted me to the players entering the field. The Belinda Carlisle classic “Heaven is a Place on Earth” is easily modified to sound like Hebburn is a place on earth.
Still stuffing pie and chips, with the players coming out, I hurried to finish my meal so that I could find a better vantage point along the sideline. With eating done, I set off along the side that housed the dugouts and stood next to the away bench.
Grantham Town started the game looking the better team but the first real chance came from a Hebburn free kick. Sean Reid’s effort was well saved and the keeper prevented the dangerous Liam Henderson from scoring on the rebound.
Dan Haystead, in the Grantham goal, was again called into action in the 13th minute, saving well low down from Liam Murray’s shot.
The Grantham Town fans were making themselves known with pretty steady chanting coming from the stand on the opposite side of the pitch and their team responded with some decent football and they looked the better team through most of the first half.
They had a couple of free-kicks in quick succession. Both of which you can see below. Spoiler alert, they were both wasted.
In the 26th minute, Grantham had some neat football culminate with a shot over the bar, immediately followed by a chance at the other end for the Hornets. The ball was put across the Grantham area but slightly behind the onrushing Murray and he couldn’t get a good connection on the header. Chance gone.
From here, the Gingerbreads, as Grantham are nicknamed, took control of the game and looked the most likely to score. In the 40th minute, they had a big penalty claim as Walters was brought down in the box but the referee was having none of it despite long, vociferous claims from the Grantham players. It was hard to say from where I was standing, whether it was or not.
Grantham were piling on plenty of pressure without creating any clear-cut chances and as the half drew to a close, a feisty first half got even more heated. Following a Grantham corner, the ball was cleared outside the area and Harry Wood failed to control the ball. In an effort to rectify his mistake and regain possession, he scythed down Liam Murray and after the ensuing melee of players, the referee made the decision to send him off.
In my view, it was the correct decision but make up your own mind from the video below. Also of note regarding this incident, the Grantham management was resigned to the red card being shown before it actually was. I was standing by their dugout and watched and listened to their immediate reaction.
This incident brought a close fought and aggression-filled first half to a close, with the deadlock unbroken. It felt like Hebburn, who were second in the table going into this match, would take the game by the scruff of the neck in the second forty-five.
Half-time – Hebburn Town 0 Grantham Town 0
As the teams left the field there were more arguments going on. In particular, the Grantham Town keeper seemed to be upset with the referee about something. I think he may have been protesting that a Hebburn player should have been sent off for a previous incident.
The card count at this stage was two yellows for Hebburn (Walters and Henderson) and one red for Grantham (Wood). There could easily have been more.
The Second Half
Following the injury-time sending-off and the ensuing time that was taken to restore order, the second half didn’t start until 16:10.
By 16:14, ten-man Grantham Town was 1-0 up.
Robbie Spence hit a woeful pass across his backline and it was pounced upon by Jonathan Wafula. The ball found its way to Nathan Tyson who took it into the home side’s box where he was upended by defender Tom Devitt. Ashton Hall stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake, tucking his spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner of the net, with the keeper going the opposite way.
0-1 Grantham Town!
Hebburn responded positively, as you would expect with an extra man. Two shots in quick succession saw a goalmouth scramble end with Liam Murray’s shot being saved before Robbie Spence fired the rebound wide.
The pressure paid off three minutes later when Liam Henderson drew the home team level. A weak back pass was pounced upon by Henderson and he poked his shot past Haystead in the Grantham goal.
1-1 Hebburn Town equaliser!
Oliver Walters was substituted after pulling up with what looked like a hamstring injury and his replacement, James Harrison almost put the Hornets ahead, but a good save from Haystead resulted in a corner instead. The corner ended with a header going wide.
By this stage, the gentle breeze of earlier had been steadily turning into quite a powerful wind as the match went on and I’m not embarrassed to say my woolly hat made its first appearance of the season. The temperature in the dugouts meanwhile was rising as a couple of aggressive challenges went in.
Thirty minutes into the half, Grantham Town’s Wafula missed a sitter in front of goal, hitting it over the bar from just six yards out when it seemed much easier to score. Grantham paid the price for this miss six minutes later.
Liam Henderson got his second goal of the game with a really classy finish from the edge of the box. After controlling the ball with his back to goal, he turned and shot with one movement and the ball flew past the outstretched hand of Haystead into the bottom corner of the Grantham net.
2-1 Hebburn Town!
With time running out, the unthinkable happened for the home team. With a 2-1 lead against a ten-man opposition, they allowed an equaliser just before the final whistle.
Lee Shaw headed home the equaliser from close range, right in front of the Grantham fans amid jubilant scenes. As players and fans celebrated and ran around, all I could think was “Run, Run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch us, we’re the Gingerbread Men”.
I will get my coat!
2-2 Grantham Town equaliser!
With the goal coming in the 90th minute, you might be forgiven for thinking that was the end of the action but Hebburn had two more chances before the final whistle.
First was a header over the bar and then their best chance to snatch an unlikely victory. A free-kick ended with a weak header that looped to the far post and hit it before being cleared gratefully by the Grantham defence.
After a total of six and a half minutes of injury time, the match was over. Despite the aggressive nature of some of this match, there were handshakes at the end of the game after a well-fought contest in which both teams played some decent football at times.
You can read the Match Report from the Hebburn Town website here.
Hebburn Town – Match Highlights
Full-time – Hebburn Town 2 Grantham Town 2
Attendance – 210
Entrance Fee – £8.00
Programme – N/A (digital edition only)
Hebburn Town – Manager Interview
Hebburn Town – After the Game
Following the game, I made the ten-minute walk back to the bus stop opposite the local fire station and caught the 17:20 bus to Gateshead Interchange. A short wait and my connecting bus home got me back in before my estimated time of 19:00. Well before the usual time on a Saturday’s Hopping.
Next week should be a double-header in Scotland, including both non-league and Premier League action.
Onto the next!
2 thoughts on “Hebburn Town, Green Energy Sports Ground – Hopper Tales #37”
Fantastic that mate well done . Hope to see you back at Hebburn in the near future. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Thank you so much for the lovely feedback, it’s very much appreciated. Hebburn is a great place to visit for a game!