You can never underestimate the excitement to be had from a quiz. We had 122 miles ahead of us, in rush hour traffic, and 125 questions courtesy of the Yorkshire Post’s ‘Sporting Quiz of the Year’ 2022. The Quiz Master had already planned a night of revision this week ready for the next Supporters’ Club quiz night, so he was eager to host and have a sneaky peek at the answers along the way. We all knew Millwall were the first team to beat Huddersfield Town in 2022, but who knew that Marcelo Bielsa’s last win for Leeds United was against Burnley? By the time we reached question 79 there were only three possible answers from the contestants, Don’t Know, Don’t Care and Not Bothered. We can’t wait for net year’s quiz; it’s going to be another cracker!
With a fishing rod hanging out of the back door, dangling into the River Tyne, we were warned that fish and chips may take a few minutes. In the end, they caught an eel after a quarter of an hour, the kitchen erupted with excitement as they unhooked it, and in less than an hour, they hand delivered an extra fresh meal to Tesco Pete. The rest of us had already eaten, ordered chips on the way in, The Warley Shayman was keen to encourage everyone back into the car, it was already something to seven o’clock and the possibility of a local pub rested with Tesco Pete and whether he would eat at the table, or grapple with his slimy eel in the darkness of the car.
Light snow was falling as we approached the ground, the flakes were illuminated in the glare of the floodlights. We’d passed houses with ice still on the roofs from the previous night, it was cold, very cold but just above freezing. With admission at £18, we had the luxury of sitting alongside the home fans in the North Stand, it’s much steeper than the usual away stand and had the advantage of a roof. In the distance, we could see the pitch, the nearest touchline was just the other side of the long jump, then it passed the eight lane international standard running track, followed by the perimeter of the javelin throwing area. The far goal was a decent bus ride away.
The stadium occupies 60 acres of land and was redeveloped back in 1973, it has a capacity of just under 12,000. The floodlights are a similar design to those used in the famous Subbuteo game. The stewards were very professional and keen to help, and inside the concourse there was hot and cold food available with volunteers from the football club selling programmes and pin badges. You’ve got to admire the dedication of the Gateshead fans who support their team week-in-week-out from such a distant viewpoint.
The first half was goalless. The Shaymen created a few chances attacking the far end, but Gateshead had the best possession at our end of the field. The referee ensured the 115 travelling Shaymen stayed warm by continuously awarding free kicks to the home side for nothing in particular. The half-time whistle generated the best cheer and many fans headed inside for the opportunity to defrost a little.
The second half was more exciting, with the Shaymen attacking our end of the ground everything seemed much closer. There were a few decent crosses into the box, a few shots wide and one just over the bar when a goal seemed the only possible outcome. At the other end, Johnson didn’t have a notable save to make. There seemed to be only one team likely to pinch a winner, but a goal never came. The team were applauded off for another decent point away from home.
Driving back and it was too dark to even attempt the 2021 Quiz of the Year that emerged from someone’s back pocket, despite everyone’s clear lack of enthusiasm. We quietly defrosted as we made our way back down the A1 arriving home after midnight. We reflected on another trip without defeat, the Shaymen have now lost just one of the last seven away games. A decent record for any team in our league.
Next up wand we’re off back down south for an FA Trophy Quarter final, it’s just £12 admission and the chance to take a further step towards Wembley. It’s going to be settled on the day too, anyone fancy penalties?
Miles on the road 8124, Goals on the road 18.
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