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Jarrow's Northern League venture begins with defeat

Monday 7th August 2017
On the first Saturday in August, there were no games being staged among the first five levels of English football within the Tyne and Wear area, but a visit to Jarrow FC on South Tyneside proves that entertainment can be served in the lower tiers of the pyramid structure at a venue where club officials and volunteers have worked tirelessly off the field.

165 spectators attended Perth Green Community Centre where Jarrow were hosting Durham City on the opening day of the Northern League Division Two season, but it was a historic occasion for the Tynesiders as they were playing level ten football for the first time in their relatively short history.

Although previous Jarrow teams existed from 1894 to the early 1950's, the current club began playing in 1981 and they joined the Wearside League during 1991, joining teams from North West England, Teesside and North Durham plus those clubs residing in the Sunderland area.

For many years, Jarrow rarely threatened the leading teams in the Wearside League and there were often more players on the pitch than spectators at home matches, but younger teams have gradually been integrated into the club with teams now ranging from under 7's to under 18's.

Such developments have attracted the interest of sponsors, and perhaps encouraged by the success of close neighbours South Shields, winners of four trophies last term including the FA Vase, Jarrow decided to show more purpose and ambition with their senior team by aiming for a first ever promotion to the Northern League.

Davy Bell and Chris Hutchinson have become the management team and Jarrow achieved their aim of winning the 2016-17 Wearside League title, and amid much hard work and investment, a small stand was erected, floodlights installed and amenities improved allowing the club to secure the necessary permission for their move into Northern League Division Two.

Northern League stalwarts Durham City visited Perth Green at the weekend and faced a determined Jarrow team with Jordon Mellish providing excellent cover as a good old-fashioned centre-back for the hosts. Yet the outcome of a close game with few clear chances was eventually decided by refereeing decisions and spot kicks of varying degrees of quality.

Durham were denied a spot kick in the first half when home goalkeeper Gary Frater appeared to upend an opposing forward in the penalty area, only for the referee and linesman to decide that the offence occurred outside of the area. With the game deadlocked during the second half, the visitors were awarded a penalty kick when Frater jumped into a Durham forward when totally misjudging a long high ball into the side of the eighteen-yard area. Bradley Hird converted the penalty for Durham.

Then the referee noticed a push in the penalty area on a home player but Jonathan Hirst saw his resulting spot kick saved by Durham ‘keeper Joe Wilson. However, the ref ordered the kick to be retaken due to movement by Wilson with Hirst again firing a tame effort at the visiting keeper. Despite further frantic efforts to equalise, Jarrow finally accepted a 1-0 defeat in their opening Northern League game.

A match lacking some quality at times was not short on endeavour and effort with few instances of passing the ball around the back four, but with more focus directed at forward momentum and no attempts at diving. It was an honest game of football with positive encouragement offered to the players from supporters and coaching staff alike, but no game at this level is ever complete without several words of abuse aimed at the match officials, and this match was no exception.

Although Perth Green can be exposed to cool westerly winds, requiring the purchase of a £1 cup of Bovril at half-time during August, there can be no complaints as the value of such matches at just £5 entry fee and £3 for OAP's.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

Total articles: 31

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