Yarm and Eaglescliffe FC – Conyers

“Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!” is the chink of light that President Trump pulled out, coughing and spluttering from the damage that is the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. Which *drumroll please* has now been classified a pandemic. Never has a truer sentence been spoken by our orange friend from across the pond. 

Oracle Trump was correct and petrol was indeed at the lowest price since I have owned the ‘green machine’ (which is my trusty green corsa with white go faster stripes). Topped up and with tyres pumped up, having lost a dust cap in Walkden, I was off to York for the weekend.

All professional football had been suspended and on the morning of this match many non-league organisations were following suit. No such problems for this North Riding Premier Division clash between Yarm & Eaglesclife and the sausage gobblers from Bedale though. An industrial sized pack of hand sanitiser and a pre-match lecture from the referee about touching each other and we were good to go.

This match, which stuck two fingers up at Health England and COBRA, took place at Conyers High School in Yarm, or Yarm-on-Tees to give the town it’s full title. The suffix of the club’s name, Eaglescliffe, is the town found if you walk northwards over the bridge from Yarm high street.

Interestingly (or not, if you have a life) the name Yarm & Eaglescliffe is unique in the sense that if you study historical county borders you find that Yarm sat within the North Riding of Yorkshire while Eaglescliffe is in County Durham. The River Tees serves as a natural land boundary between the two. The club competed in the North Riding Senior Cup this campaign but if they were to move over the river to Eaglescliffe, they could then conceivably enter the Durham Senior Cup.

Unfortunately you can’t see the boundary markings on Yarm Bridge as the local council have opted to plonk a lampost in the middle of it; tasteless.

The club, which plays it’s matches at a local high school, was formed in 2017 and they currently reside in the North Riding Premier Division which is the 11th tier of English football (Step 7). A brand new 4G facility with floodlights and changing room facilities which opened a matter of weeks ago, means the club do have the springboard to jump into the Northern League should they wish to, with support of the school to meet ground grading. They appear to have enough people behind the scenes who are experienced enough to carry the club forward and the town itself is certainly financially able to support a Northern League side if they went for promotion in years to come.

Visitors for this match were Bedale Town, who have had internet fame in recent seasons due to their hit sponsorship with local sausage manufacturers Heck. This seasons home shirt, which featured bangers, mash and peas was banned by the jobsworths at The FA as it contravened those pesky advertising rules by displaying ‘too much sausage’. Their goalkeeper shirt did feature a chipolata trim down the side; needless to say Bedale had the last laugh.

With a rare blue sky over the north, the two sides entered the fortress that is the Conyers 4G cage. The splattering of spectators who were present were invited to clean their hands along with the players who all had a squeeze upon leaving the sanctuary of the changing rooms.

One bloke who supported Yarm, keen to prove a point, was straight over to shake hands with the home team manager; gagging for it like a junkie would be looking for his next hit. I suppose there’s a certain romance to living life on the edge in these uncertain times.

The Bedale sausage gobblers thought they had taken the lead on two occasions but the linesman on the far side ruled two goals out for being offside. We could all see what was coming, as the yellow and greens finally took the lead with a thumping header from a free-kick.

It looked like it could be a cricket score but the home side held firm and set about finding their way back into the match. Yarm settled and played some very quick, passing football and deservedly equalised through Matty Jenkinson who finished low from a Jack Dalton pull-back for his 22nd of the now suspended campaign. Y & E were ahead moments later when Dom Tiff, who seemed to be the ‘character’ of the team judging by his antics in the warm up, curled the ball into the top left hand corner.

Sean Mackin grabbed his first of the match just before the interval and then rounded off the scoring in the second half with a tremendous looping shot which curled over the Bedale goalkeeper. If Mo Salah would have hit it, we would be seeing the strike on repeat for days.

The well deserved victory takes Yarm & Eaglescliffe up to 2nd place in the league, six points behind runaway league leaders Boro Rangers, who… you guessed it… are from Middlesbrough. 

It’s safe to say that by the end of the match, everybody felt they may have witnessed the last bit of football we may see for quite some time. Could it be the end of the season totally? Should we steal the toilet roll from the school toilets? Why did a lad in China decide to eat a bat? Nobody knew the answer to any of those puzzling questions. So to cheer ourselves up, Paul and I headed into Yarm after the match where he showed me the sights of where he spent his youth.

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