A quick trip to Gateshead

Not just in my home country, but in my home region there are things I’ve not done and places I’ve not been. Today I took the opportunity to redress that with a quick trip up the road (I’m staying with the lovely Viv on Teeside) to watch Gateshead FC against Chester City.

Way back before I left the UK, I was a season ticket holder at Newcastle United. Gateshead didn’t even have a web page as far as I’m aware and unless you read the local newspapers, following their performance was next to impossible. Now, with the advent of the internet, I have no excuses. I even follow the even more “lowly” Whitley Bay FC via Twitter on a weekend. They’re all local teams as far as I’m concerned.

As far as I can remember, the last time I visited Gateshead International Stadium was almost 20 years ago. I was there to see Guns n’ Roses (with Faith No More opening for them). Being a youngster and skint, I didn’t have a ticket. Instead I climbed a tree along the east stand and sat up there to watch the performance over the wall. When a police officer asked me if I’d come down, I answered (politely) “sorry, no”. He then asked me to make sure I didn’t damage the tree on the way down after the gig and I was careful to make sure that I, indeed, did not.

The last time I was actually inside the stadium was when I finished the charity Sport Aid fun run. Actually, I think that was the only time I was inside.

For those going, there is free parking in three car parks around the stadium. The queue to get out isn’t too bad either. You can expect to get there at 14:50, park up, walk in and be sat down by kick-off.

Match tickets are currently £12 for adults, and programmes are £2.50 a shot and a good read. I even picked up a keyring for only £2. I was hoping to get a shirt as well, but the little shop upstairs (two ladies, a folding table and some lockers full of stuff!) didn’t take plastic. I’ll order online instead.

The game itself wasn’t as bad as I’d have expected given that it’s – I think – the lowest league match I’ve ever seen. The pitch was OK and despite being halfway up the stand I could clearly hear the players swearing at each other. And the ref. Which was cool.

Premier League clubs should also note that a crowd of supporters were stood up for the entire match having a great time and did not at any time case a fire, explosion, structural collapse or nuclear holocaust. Proof, if it were needed, that forcing people to sit for “health and safety reasons” and throwing them out if they don’t is an utterly pointless, futile and ridiculous practice.

There was an atmosphere despite the relatively small crowd. I’m used to something nearer 50,000 and I’d make a guess that The Heed pulled in around 500 for this Saturday’s game. The away fans were audible (especially when they scored and won the match), while the above-mentioned hard core support had a few good chants and songs.

A lack of seat number on the tickets also meant I could park my bum anywhere for a good view and fans who did want to stand could do so towards the back without obscuring anyone else’s view.

Other than the result (Gateshead 0 – 1 Chester City), it was a good kickabout and I’ll definitely pop by next time I’m in the area without a ticket for the Toon. Actually, I might make the effort to go and see Whitley Bay or Blyth Spartans for variety!

Support your real local team, folks – don’t forget that just because you have a Premier League (or… erm… Colaship) team nearby that there are others that could do with your presence, cash and voice.

Apologies for a lack of photos. I did take some and posted them on Twitter via Ping.fm which should then forward them on to Flickr. Only Ping.fm seems to be broken and hasn’t submitted the pictures to Flickr and I’ve deleted them from my phone. Grr.

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