Rothbury 1 Wallsend Boys Club 0
Saturday 19th December 2020
Santa’s not the only bearded bloke in a red and white kit who gets jolly this time of year, so the likes of the hirsute James Jackson, Al Makin and Thomas Hammond were all smiles after Rothbury weathered the storm to make it three wins on the bounce and move up into seventh spot in the table.
And while midfielder Kyle Smith normally sports a bit of stubble for the Five o’clock shadow look, he was clean-shaven as he put in the graft during a battling man-of-the-match performance with the Reds wrapping up a festive win thanks to Chrissy Coe’s first half strike.
The final fixture before the Big Fella visits is normally a lottery of who will turn up and in what state after the joys of the notorious Black Eye Friday, so gaffer Danny Olson will have been pleasantly surprised that the excesses of the works parties were curtailed this year.
It’s no fun when the lager starts leaking out of you after 20 minutes, and with visitors Wallsend Boys Club well up for it and pouring forward at every opportunity, Olson’s players will have been pleased that they were unexpectedly, disappointedly fresh for the game.
No brewery smells in the changing rooms, no heaving in the toilets. Do they know it’s Christmas Time at all? Big Smith certainly felt that a surface made heavy by water also added to the energy-sapping of a hard 90 minutes that wouldn’t have been helped by hangovers.
“The team’s confidence is definitely growing week by week,” he said.
“We did have to dig deep to get the 3 points and to be honest neither team played well – it was an ugly game to watch I’d imagine, but the pitch didn’t help.”
Rothbury were celebrating in the 31st minute when Greg Woodburn got to almost the bye-line and fired across the keeper at his near post leaving Coe with a simple tap-in into the empty net for what proved the winner.
“I thought Jack made some good saves and having big Tommy Mac back is massive for us, he will definitely help some of the younger players because of how vocal he is. Greg Woodburn for me was another player who stood out today but that’s just because he couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo!” joked Smith.
“Danny’s style of play is starting to click, although some of the players with half a brain can’t quite get their heads around the set pieces. But hey 3 points is 3 points so we’ll take it and focus on next week’s game and try to keep this winning streak going.”
The Boy’s Club drafted a couple of players with Northern League experience ahead of the fixture with Scott McCarthy coming in from Whickham and David Smith from Jarrow, so the Red’s narrow victory was all the more impressive.
“We weren’t great but we dug in under what was immense pressure at times. We move on to the next game,” admitted Olson, who would certainly take not playing particularly well and winning above the playing attractively but getting beaten that has happened during a number of broken spells through 2020.
And what a stop-start year it has been. No lining up the beers and sitting slumped in a bar stool in a paper hat with Wizzard echoing in the background to celebrate. No laughing at someone bowking around the back of the bins in a gaudy Rudolph jumper.
Keep your eyes on the skies. The magic can still happen.