Match Preview: RFC v Whitburn and Cleadon - Rothbury Football Club
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MATCH PREVIEW: Rothbury v Whitburn & Cleadon


I popped into the Old Bell on Fleet Street for a pint on Wednesday night; sat in the snug and felt the ghosts of the generations of hot metal typesetters, trench-coated reporters and red-faced subs in the atmospheric dark wood bar. There were only a few fading black and white pictures up on the wall and an old typewriter in one alcove to remind patrons of the heydays of the newspaper industry.

There’s not much room for sentiment in these digital days and when I’d knocked back the drink and watched the last few bubbles sliding slowly down the glass, I checked my mobile phone and Rothbury were 4-0 up at half-time in their game at Bedlington.

Back in the old days, if Newcastle were down at Wembley, they’d send racing pigeons back to the Chronicle roof with the scores attached in tubes on their legs. Yet here I could get the scores from a Northern Alliance game instantaneously.

After the Reds had been beaten 1-0 away at Division One new boys West Moor & Jesmond on the opening day, boss Danny Olson was looking for a reaction from his players and, boy, did he get it. 

“The first two games have been a case of us at our worst in the first game and at our best in the second,” said Danny, who was forced to give the players the hairdryer treatment after the lacklustre start.

“Against Jesmond in the season opener we huffed and puffed but didn’t get very far. A few harsh words were left in that dressing room on the opening day and they had the effect I was looking for,” he admitted. The less said about that one, the better, so it was with some trepidation that I took out the phone and started scrolling.

“Against Bedlington we couldn’t have been much better than we were,” continued the gaffer.

“I changed the formation and got us back to passing and keeping the ball, the boys stuck to the plan and got their just rewards,” he said, as the Reds, in their smart new Blue away kits sponsored by Ant Sutton’s A&E Tyre, Exhaust and Service Centre, romped ahead with goals from Sam Proudlock, Jake Stevenson, James Jackson and a Tony Brown penalty put them in total control on the plastic pitch at the Academy.

Although Bedlington pulled one back through Chris Phillips, Lewis Leveny completed the rout. While the old guard of Proudlock, Jackson and Brown have been cornerstones of the side over the past few seasons, it was good to see the new boys had a chance to shine and the boss was delighted with how things had turned out.

“The introduction of the new players has been a breath of fresh air and we hope to build on it now on Saturday,” he said.

It is Rothbury’s opening home game of the new campaign and they hope to get a decent turnout down at Armstrong Park to get a look at the new signings as they take on Whitburn & Cleadon with a 2.30pm kick-off. I’m hoping to drive across the wilds of Cumbria and West Northumberland along Hadrian’s Frontier to be there myself and to check out the fabulous new dug-outs as well.

Things are more relaxed these days and you don’t need to be ringing through copy every fifteen minutes and sticking an intro on top at the whistle, then doing a re-write with quotes by 5.30 like we used to do in the press box, shouting down telephones with them pressed to your ear as you flicked frantically through a dog-eared notebook humming and harring. Hell, we don’t even have any print outlets to pen copy for. 

The once-fancy glass fronted Express building is God knows what, the letters on DC Thompson’s at the top end of the famous London street are fading on the walls.

Sports reporters are a dying breed and when we’re gone who will tell the stories from the local pitches? Who will tell of Gibby pulling on his boots for neighbours Stobswood well into his 40s last Saturday? Who will write the future legends?

The buzz and the camaraderie of the press corps is gone, replaced by people sitting silently at their lap-tops, and there’s something ultimately sad about that.

So sometimes you just have to go and sit in a bar in Fleet Street and remember what journalism once was.

Words: Jon Tait