23rd May 2009

Sassco.co.uk 1 Redhouse FC 2.

Pre-season in full swing as Sassco let a 1-0 lead slip.

The so called regular cup game against Redhouse FC didn’t materialise during the season, so we managed to get it added on to the end of the season before all the posts came down.


We weren’t struggling, but were down on numbers. Steve Farquhar came in for a debut and so did the legendary David Murton. It’s good to have Murton on board for a good two months, before the inevitable vanishing act. Murton came into the side in 2005, but claims he’s more “mature” now.

I any case, both him and Kyle were well pumped up for the major event. A flurry of text messages from them first thing in the morning meant that I brought in a new rule; Kyle and Murton are not allowed to sleep together before a game. Before kick off, Murton claimed “3-1” and “all hell to break loose.”

My calming act failed and when Jimmy skyed the ball well over the bar, I expected a set of missed chances. Still, moments later, Jimmy looped the ball over Carlos Middlemiss and Sassco were leading 1-0. Catfish was doing his mind tricks again, saying that they had a bare eleven. They had around fourteen players there. If that’s short Catfish, you should see Sassco. Eleven players for us is too many sometimes.

So, in at half time leading 1-0. Simma did have a good few saves to make and despite Redhouse meekly capitulating their division title, they were still very strong. Even Charlie made an appearance for them after his brief affair with Sassco.

Just as the video camera batter was fading, the second half saw a disputed penalty dispatched by the ever dependable John Hunt. Our heads seemed to go down immediately. The decision was probably at fault, but Simma did make a good deal of saves to keep the score down prior to that. Redhouse then took the lead when a player was unmarked on the left hand side. At 2-1 the game levelled out. We had some decent opportunities in the box, but shots were high or wide or way too limp.

David Murton had a glorious chance to write his name in the history books, but his shot was palmed out by Carlos and the game was gone for Sassco. Right at the death, a corner kick was given and Simma raced up the length of the field and inevitably all the way back as the final whistle went.

Redhouse keep the trophy this season, but we’ll try and win it during the season or at the end again if we don’t meet. The way Catfish is going – this will be the only trophy he’ll be winning for a while.

The video footage of the first half and part of the second half will be uploaded shortly.

Community North Sports Complex
AGUK Challenge Cup
Sassco.co.uk 1 Dave “Jimmy” Raeper
Redhouse FC 2
Sassco.co.uk: David Simpson, Simon Mulvaney, Chris Dixon, Mark Middlemiss, Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson, Kyle Robinson, Dave Murton, Dave Raeper, Steve Farquhar, Marc McDermont

9th May 2009

Sassco.co.uk 4 Country Park Inn 2.

An amazing four goals for Jimmy Raeper.

AI read a mini-riot act prior to the game, threatening those with outstanding subs to pay up or be benched. Also, the threat was there to help with the nets or else be benched. Now the wise arses would turnaround and say that if eleven are there; how can anyone be benched. Well, it would be the following week. If all eleven told me to f**k off, then next week there would be a different eleven.

The final game of the season saw us playing at home to Country Park Inn. The self titled, CP Inn, aka Marc Evans, after the last game claimed that he couldn’t wait to play us again. A bit of a boast – yes, but CP Inn had secured some impressive results recently (including a 2-2 draw against Hylton CW). It seemed that everyone wanted to play us after Anth Pearson, standing in goal for the absent Dave Simpson, let in a true howler within a minute. It wasn’t even a shot. The ball rolled towards him, through him and into the back of the net. The sidelines were packed with Redhouse FC players, including Tommy Bell, who was making notes, after their game was cancelled. Not much on his paper then…

I was very tempted to haul him off, as he looked shaken after it and put Muers in goal. However, once we got to grips with the game, he didn’t put a foot (or hand) wrong after this.

However, this lifted CP Inn, who started the stronger. We knew we were up against it and all the players showed their true spirit and came back strongly. Jimmy broke clear after around fifteen minutes and poked the ball past the ‘keeper before he got to it. Then after this, Jimmy beat several players before slotting it in. CP Inn had a great chance to score just before the half time whistle.

Second half saw Paul McConville, who had an unproductive spell in attack, replaced by Titch. Paul actually got himself a bad bruising and cut on his leg which looked like a shark bite. During the opening minutes of the second half, the heavens opened and the game was played in slick conditions. Even with the downpour, we were all parched and it wasn’t helped by the fact that my flask smashed into a million pieces so I was gagging for my half time tea.

The second half was played in a similar pattern to the end of the first half. We were reasonably comfortable, but were still only one goal ahead of CP Inn. Nelly then set Jimmy up with an excellent low cross for his hat-trick. 3-1 and the game looked secure. After this, it turned a little nasty. It was a bit bruising throughout. Both Kyle Robinson and Dave Graham had their work cut out. Dave Graham didn’t get a wonder goal, like he did last week, not for the want of trying. But I do remember him spending the rest of the evening asking the other players if they still wanted his autograph. Despite this, both him and Kyle were strong in the middle.

Finally, a superb curled effort saw Jimmy score his fourth and final goal. A truly astonishing performance. CP Inn then got one back with ten minutes remaining, when Stoker swung that leg of his and gave Marc Evans a chance to score from the spot. Stoker vented his hatred onto Marc Evans as they were having a verbal spat throughout the game and Nelly got himself a yellow card when he grabbed one of their players after a bad challenge. This was coming after he threatened Emu the previous week. Both Emu and Stoker were gagging for a goal and both bombed forward to try and get it. Both fired blanks though.

Everyone have a relaxing summer off and we’ll freshen ourselves and regroup for our first pre-season game in 48 hours. Macca was whinging that he didn’t fancy playing a Non-league team. I told him it was lucky we hadn’t secured a League team.

I’ll upload my season report soon and will ask all the players to vote for their Player of the Season.

Finally, it was Brian Watson’s last game, before he quits as Team Secretary. Our thanks go out to him for all the hard work done over the last season and a half.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 4 Dave “Jimmy” Raeper 4
Country Park Inn 2
Sassco.co.uk: Anth Pearson, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney (Chris Dixon), Mark Muers*, Marc McDermont, Paul McConville (Steve Conlin), Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson, Kyle Robinson, Dave Graham, Dave Raeper*

6th May 2009

Sassco.co.uk 0 Hylton CW 2.

A good second half is thwarted by missed chances.

AI was the first one there. I arrive long before kick off at around 4:50pm and instead of twiddling with my dipstick, I got the ladder out and put both nets up (one with the help of Daz Snowball).

By the time they were up; still no players. Was it going to be one of those Wednesdays again? Not likely. Everyone showed (even Stoker, Graham, Kyle and Gourlay). I needed a strong side out against Hylton CW and I got it. However, Jimmy was missing for the opening half, so I elected for a 4-5-1 formation. Macca was on up front on his own.

The game was blank for a god twenty minutes until Hylton CW struck from the spot after Stoker swung his leg. Not too long after, Tim (Yes, Tiger Tim) was deceived by the full back and they were 2-0 up. We did have chances. Macca had a glorious one created by Nelly, then Nelly himself was tackled in the box, complaining that no one gave him the shout (what do you expect in a packed box? Turn and shot in one movement like I always do…).

A lot of whinnying and complaining at half time. A lot of it directed at me for removing Paul McConville (who actually took a bit of a knock and was on the sidelines for a few minutes in the first half) and putting Jimmy on in a 4-4-2 formation. Me being my usual self told all the bitches to stick it and fuck off if they didn’t like it. The signs weren’t too good. Players were blaming the tactics, the length of the grass, the fact that some blue shirts were long sleeve and some were short. The point I’m trying to get a across is that these idiots will blame anything else apart from the real reason why we were 2-0 down. We didn’t get tight, we didn’t get tight at them and we didn’t snap at ankles. And we didn’t take what limited chances we had in the opening half.

Second half proved I was right. I actually had Nelly on the right hand side, but Macca wanted to switch, after he missed a sitter in the first half. He actually jumped like Mr. Burns when Nelly played in a perfect cross.

We went at Hylton CW and created numerous chances. Nelly, clean through, saw his chance blocked. Macca had two or three chances. Muers and Dave Graham headed direct to the ‘keeper. At the back we weren’t even troubled at all. We simply marked and stuck tight the way we always should. Tim, who had a bit of a howler in the first was excellent in the second. Stoker eventually pushed up with Macca back to try and grab a goal, but it was not to be.

A great second half, but it shows the difference and why Hylton CW are up there. They take their chances.

As a footnote, a few players didn’t pay their subs and are in some arrears now. If effort isn’t made to reduce it, then it’s likely they will be on the bench until back in the black. Emu’s not getting much left over to get a pizza these days.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Hylton CW 2
Sassco.co.uk 0

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Tim Gillespie, Mark Muers*, Paul McConville (David Raeper), Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson, Kyle Robinson, Dave Graham,

2nd May 2009

Sassco.co.uk 3 Park View 0.

Rubbish first half, but excellent second half.

After the disaster last week, we had a more awkward tie against Park View. A team who had suffered some narrow reverses against teams who have easily beat us. The squad was reasonably full. Kyle was missing because he couldn’t make his mind up whether he was going to be conned by a telephone chance to win £10,000. Just as I though Sassco’s financial future was secure, he texted saying it was probably a con. Then he texted saying he was going to turn up but still injured. Macca did the same. He said he’d be okay to play the last twenty to thirty minutes.

Then to the game. It was a poor first half as you could imagine any bad game for Sassco would be . We had the possession, but failed to get a strike on target. Park View were stubborn and took us by surprise from some long throw-ins. We also had Simma to thank for keeping the score at 0-0 for half time.

Second half, I put McConville on the left (in place of Pearson) and switched Nelly to the right (as suggested by Si Mulvaney). We seemed to improve ten-fold. Some near misses occurred, before Titch rammed home his seventh in seven games inside a crowded area. Soon after, Dave Graham scored a left footed scorcher, the kind that cameras don’t pick up. The volley struck the top corner and we were 2-0 up.

The inevitable third came when Titch headed in his second. After that, it was typical arrogant Sassco as both Emu and Stoker pushed further up to miss various chances. Nothing came back to haunt us this time as Park View weren’t really a threat on the floor with pace like Times Inn were to us last week.

I’ve taken control of the squad and team selections now and there were a few negatives. Macca, as mentioned, declared himself unfit, then fit, deciding not to come on in the last twenty to thirty minutes. I was going to put him full back, but he wanted a more forward role – thus he kept himself to himself like an arse on the bench (glad I’ve still got his coat).

Also, Nelly and Emu had a bitch fight. Both were swearing at each other but made up in the end. Not much else to say. Weather was nice. Hylton CW on Wednesday. Nice.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 3 Titch Conlin 2, Dave Graham
Park View 0
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Chris DIxon, Mark Muers, Anthony Pearson (Paul McConville), Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson, Stephen Conlin, Dave Graham*, David Raeper

25th April 2009

Time Inn 4 Sassco.co.uk 3.

2-0 ahead, but overconfidence and missed chances leads to a defeat.

Not sure if I would call it a disaster. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we created an obscene amount of chances which the goalkeeper for Times Inn, Steve Knox, somehow managed to save. It wasn’t going to be our day.

It started well, but probably started the way it shouldn’t have. Jimmy Raeper scored from kick off and then Titch Conlin added to it. It was then when Times Inn replied and then a stupid free-kick was given away and notched with some force in the back of the net.

I still wasn’t panicking, but the third conceded just prior to half time was a major worry. Dave Graham equalised early in the second from a well placed header, but after that it was sheer domination, with Knox saving everything at him. Several goal bound shots were also cleared off the line.

It wasn’t going to be our day. Times Inn somehow didn’t put the ball in the back of the net in a goalmouth scramble, but secured the winner with around twenty minutes remaining. We still had so many chances. Jimmy clear in the box saw his shot saved. Charlie, who came on late in the second half for an angry Titch, went one on one, chipped the ‘keeper, only to see his almost certain goal, cleared up and over the bar.

The half time and end of the game saw everyone turn on the Team Coach, Nelly. Accusations were flying about due to lack of encouragement and continued at the end. He’s in walking on thin ice and the Management Committee and Technical Department will have to re-evaluate his position based on the results in the next three games, notably the Hylton CW one.

However, it’s just a bad day all around. No one can really say they did well out there and we didn’t deserve it based on our attitude. We got away with it away to CP Inn, but didn’t this week. Granted, Times Inn have massively improved in their last two games, but the shocking amount of chances we squandered could have been a high score in our favour.

Next week sees Sassco hosting Country Park Inn. The cameras will be there as well.

Thompson Park
League Division 1
Times Inn 4
Titch Conlin, David Raeper, Dave Graham
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Anthony Pearson, Gareth Stoker*, Simon Mulvaney, Chris DIxon, Dave Gourlay, Kyle Robinson, Neil Richardson, Stephen Conlin (Craig Charlton), Dave Graham, David Raeper

18th April 2009

The Fort 4 Sassco.co.uk 6.

The best performance this season, with a rare full-strength team.

The team pictured prior to the game in the new Adidas second shirts (previously worn against The Fort in our home game on 8th April). Standing from left to right are Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, David Simpson, Anthony Pearson, Kyle Robinson, Simon Mulvaney, Dave Graham, Davinder Sangha. Sitting are Chris Dixon, Marc McDermont, Stephen Conlin, Dave Gourlay, David
The team pictured prior to the game in the new Adidas second shirts (previously worn against The Fort in our home game on 8th April).
Standing from left to right are Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, David Simpson, Anthony Pearson, Kyle Robinson, Simon Mulvaney, Dave Graham, Davinder Sangha.
Sitting are Chris Dixon, Marc McDermont, Stephen Conlin, Dave Gourlay, David “Jimmy” Raeper, Neil Richardson and Paul McConville.

Things were looking good during the week. Dave Graham seemed certain to make his first appearance since 28th February, when we comprehensively defeated The Cambridge 3-1 away, with a similar strong looking squad. Jimmy and Pearson were also back from missing last weeks game. The game where we suffered a poor second half against CP Inn (despite ending up with three points). Our opponents, The Fort, were still flying high, with only our 2-2 draw being a blip in their run. Our ultra defensive performance back then, the day we stuck two fingers up at Greenwell and played with ten men to get a the draw, was now going to change into a more open performance.

Stoker powers in a header

And the subsequent celebration

The midfield trio of Dave Graham, Kyle Robinson and Dave Gourlay were missing back then. Also Stoker had come back from his ban and started. So there were five new players as Macca was also making a show at left back.

Like I said, we were confident, but this was shattered within a minute. The Fort attacker sidestepped Stoker and scored. However, we came back and eventually led 2-1. Titch Conlin squeezed in another wide angle shot which the ‘keeper misjudged (Pepe Reina style). Then Stoker powered in a superb header from a Nelly free-kick. The Fort scored again after poor defending, but then a cross from Dave Gourlay went straight in. But, you guessed it, The Fort equalised and at half time it was 3-3.

Titch goes for a high ball

For the second, we tended to dominate. During the first and most of the second, some of our one-touch passing was a pleasure to watch. The best we’ve played without a doubt. Jimmy then nudged in a deflected cross (from Nelly) to make it 4-3. Then Stoker hurled himself at another ball to score a header from a corner. It was 5-3 now and the score ended at 6-4 in our favour with Macca getting the last goal. This was despite him crying that everyone was shouting at him again at half time. Nelly brought Dixon on for a haphazard Muers and Paul McConville came on for an angry Titch. Pearson was the only unused substitute.

Gourlay battles for the ball

Stoker scores his second

A great performance. Difference was Dave Graham in the middle, who gave that added bite with Kyle improving on his pass rate to around 60% now. Gourlay was always the outlet, but Nelly tortured their left back and assisted in four goals. Jimmy and Titch were also having good games and I did point out that this was our strongest line up for a good while. The Fort probably thought we had the ringers in, but the team photo beforehand obviously proves that this is our desired squad. Defensively we were a bit poor. All the goals could have been prevented in my opinion, but it seemed that we were always one step ahead once we went 2-1 up. Stoker and Emu had a bitch fight in the second with both blaming each other, but they kissed and made up.

Things are looking up. Nelly’s still unbeaten since he took over.

Fulwell Mill
League Division 1
The Fort 4
Titch Conlin, Dave Gourlay, Gareth Stoker (2), David Raeper, Marc McDermont
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers (Chris Dixon), Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Marc McDermont, Dave Gourlay, Kyle Robinson, Neil Richardson*, Stephen Conlin (Paul McConville), Dave Graham, David Raeper

11th April 2009

Country Park Inn 2 Sassco.co.uk 3.

3-0 ahead, but complacency sets in.

Gourlay gets his goal

A win, but a slight let down. We were coasting in the first half and also in the start of the second, but overconfidence let the team down. Everyone felt deflated after the game, despite having secured the three points. We knew were playing a team we expected to beat, but the comfortable lead was criminally lost and the culprits didn’t like being shouted at. Get used to it…

Muers goes for a header

With the midweek shenanigans over, we managed to get a competent team out even though we were missing Rikki, Jimmy and Pearson (and me) – all the heroes from our midweek battle. Greenwell had signalled his intention to apologise in person to the team, but I expected him not to show. My prediction came true as everyone was there for 1:30pm minus Greenwell. I had already roped in a replacement and also persuaded Marky Mark to make an appearance. We had 13 players there, as Dixon also made a return after a good few weeks out.

So, out were the aforementioned three (and fourth), but back in were Kyle Robinson, Chris Dixon, Marc McDermont, Mark Middlemiss and Dave Gourlay. A solid enough team, despite not really having an out-and-out striker.

Nelly went 4-5-1 to compensate and pushed Dixon straight back into a centre half role. Marky Mark was full-back and Paul Mc was left full back. Si Mulvaney operated in front of the defence. The system seemed to work well, but discipline broke down when we looked comfortable. CP Inn were physical and the team itself was very tall, which caused problems. However, we defended like we did against the Fort and. notwithstanding a few minor scares, we took the lead when Nelly’s cross was volleyed into the back of the net by Gourlay. Who then returned the favour for Nelly as he chipped the ball over the advancing line for Nelly to easily score.

Mark Middlemiss asks,

Titch misses a chance

CP Inn, Mark Evans in the bookWe went into the break 2-0 ahead. The second goal had come in the dying minutes as the half closed.

The second half saw no changes to the team, but a comedy moment for CP Inn as their substitute came on without permission from the referee. In the confusion, Titch notched his third goal in as many games. We looked very comfortable and after some difficult recent games, it was a relief to be ahead.

It was then when the brakes truly came off. Overconfidence swept through the team as both centre halves started pushing too much, and stopped defending like defenders. Marky (playing full back) also pushed too much. The shape went as we started defending like CP Inn in the first half and conceded a ball over the top goal after failing to clear. It happened again and from a comfortable 3-0, we were in for a hairy 3-2 in the last moments.

We did have our own chances, but were a bit shocking at the back. Nelly and myself before him always told the defence to get goalside, face your man and defend like men and not to rely on the offside. We did the total opposite to what we did against the Fort and nearly paid the price.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Country Park Inn 2
Titch Conlin, Dave Gourlay, Neil Richardson
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Mark Middlemiss, Simon Mulvaney, Marc McDermont, Dave Gourlay*, Kyle Robinson, Neil Richardson, Chris Dixon, Stephen Conlin, Paul McConville

8th April 2009

Sassco.co.uk 2 The Fort 2.

Battling and astonishingly positive start for Nelly.

The end of the game and a 2-2 draw

Nothing’s ever simple in the world of Sassco. I’ll keep this report brief because I’ve just spent 90 minutes playing against the Fort at left back, which tells you something went drastically wrong.

Being a Wednesday game, we were going to struggle. Macca was trying to get out of work for the second half and we also had other drop outs. People saying they are going to turn up, then saying they are stuck in work. I don’t need vague “I’ll be there” comments. I need 100% Yes or No. Anything vague is a No. Kyle didn’t show. I think this was partly my mistake. He didn’t actually reply to any text during the week. Normally I take no reply as a no show. Being complacent, I didn’t ring and double check.

Pearson - superstarSo, poor Nelly was left to start his coaching career with Sassco in disarray, having to select me and Pearson (quoted as “the worst left backs in the League”) in a ten man team.

Why ten men? Well, eleven did show, but Mr. Greenwell decided that Nelly wasn’t the man to coach the team and fucked everyone up by turning up and then demanding that Nelly not be the coach. THis was done by telephone. He was driving down while I was ringing to check where he was and dropped everyone well and truly in it. My answer to him was, “Well tough. Go home. We’ll play with ten.” Mr. Greenwell forgets that when I make a decision for Sassco, you like it or lump it.

It galvanised everyone and Nelly showed his tactical genius by playing an ultra defensive team with pace in attack and layers of defence. Every time a ball dropped, it was booted clear. Everytime someone missed a header, there was always someone behind to clear. We kept the first fifteen minutes tight and slowly confidence grew. Titch and Jimmy were deep, but beginning to break through. Jimmy rifled a shot wide, but then when we broke through, Pearson chipped the ball over the advancing ‘keeper from a tight angle on the right hand side. Astonishingly we were 1-0 up and it remained that way thanks to the defensive might of me, Rikki, Simon and Muers. Simma was a true legend.

Second half we were still lacking in numbers, but eventually it evened out. The game did as well as The Fort gained a similar goal to ours. Then, amazingly, we scored within about five minutes. Titch drilled in a low ball from a very tight angle and it was 2-1 again. However, all was not lost for The Fort. With around seven remaining, they equalised again, but the scoring ended there.

Got to thank all the lads who turned up and fought for the cause and fully backed Nelly’s tactical acumen. I actually thought players would be dropping like flies from Saturday as it was the first time we’ve ever had ten men. There’s not a lot to be done when players actually drop you in it, and as always we struggle on a Wednesday. In foresight, I’ll sign a large amount of players next season as non-regulars in case this occurs again.

I’ll post a more detailed report soon, but I’m foaming at the mouth and aching through every joint. I really, really shouldn’t be playing against the likes of The Fort.

Well done Nelly and well done the rest of the team and Bri Watson.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 2 Anthony Pearson, Titch Conlin

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Simon Mulvaney, Marc McDermont, Dave Gourlay, Kyle Robinson, Neil Richardson, Anthony Pearson (Rikki Kennedy), Stephen Conlin, Paul McConville, David “Jimmy” Raeper*

4th April 2009

Usworth FC 2 Sassco.co.uk 3.

We have Emu’s weight problem to thank for a goal.

One of the things I’ve noticed about Sassco is that after every heavy defeat (and there have been plenty this season), we seem to bounce back more positively and everyone seems to want to get a game as quick as possible to prove it. They all seemed to be up for this awkward away game against Usworth FC. Their physical presence was going to cause a problem, but it was a bigger problem when Greenwell announced that he’d miss the game, which scuppered my well laid plans. He turned up beforehand to tell me in person. Then Charlie failed to show, mainly because he texted me in the morning and I’d already announced the team, which meant he would be starting on the bench. Digressing a little bit – a note for everyone in the future to make sure I’m informed before Friday if available or not. Dave Gourlay was there, but he had stepped down from team coaching duties due to the now forgotten Wednesday incident.

I also made it known that from Wednesday, Nelly would be in charge of team tactics and selection. I’ll still get the best possible squad there, but Nelly would be in charge of the team. Options are limited with the transfer and registration windows being closed, but we’ll always get the best we can out there.

Kyle Robinson ready for a talking to

For this game, my tactics were slightly different. Greenwell was scheduled to be in defence, but in his absence, Macca was placed there and Gourlay promoted off the bench to be left back. Controversially, I placed “Fancy Dan” Paul McConville up front, who arrived with his own personal assistant, Wayne Ramsay. I also had Pearson on the left wing. My reasoning was that they both would struggle in a normal defensive position along the back line. Paul Mc was told to be a “nuisance” in attack, while Pea was asked to be more defensive and to lay the ball off easily.

Titch and Emu celebrate the goals

The wind played a huge factor in either half, but in the opening minutes, Usworth were unlucky not to score when a shot cannoned up and over off the crossbar. With this scare over, we took control. Paul was very effective in attack and forced Usworth to lose the ball on several occasions, or at least forced them to play it quick instead of giving them time. A looping ball looked goal bound from Nelly, but Titch latched on to it and scored. Then, a ball from the same area saw Emu’s vast and expanding belly bulge it into the back of the net. 2-0 up and cruising. We were very comfortable. Pea, who was playing well up to the point, had to come off with a bad back and was replaced by Rikki, who went left wing. Not his usual position, but he played very well throughout.

North East Aircraft Museum's Vulcan bomber

Second half was going to be different. What a difference a goal makes and it was a shite goal. From our in-direct free-kick, Nelly and Jimmy didn’t communicate and both were left standing as Usworth broke clear. The result was a goal. At this point, they came from nothing to being well back in the game. The inevitable second went in, deflected off Macca (who was standing in front of Simma). The wind was causing us problems. Any ball (throw in or kick) from their right hand side was like a bullet. We had plenty of goalmouth scrambles and persevered when it looked like we’d conceded again. At 2-2, we simply dug in. Gourlay was a great outlet when under pressure, while Simma’s voice was almost deafening. Si Mulvaney, who prior to the game, clad in his Army gear, was threatening Macca, had a strong performance, especially when dealing with pressure.

Then, a long ball from Muers set Nelly off and he didn’t miss to round an excellent individual performance from both of them. We were 3-2 ahead and kept it that way. Usworth then had a man sent off (for a second yellow card) and one sent off after the end of the game.

A great performance from a team I wouldn’t consider to be one of our strongest. However, the positions seemed to work and more importantly, everyone wanted it. We were poor when we conceded the goal, but the bonus was getting a third one when under pressure. Titch had a really positive performance, capped off with a goal. Nelly was excellent and Jimmy was justly awarded Man-of-the-match, despite Macca wanting it. Paul Mc’s face got redder in the first five minutes, but by the time the game ended, it was pale white and he had to be helped off the pitch by his assistant, Wayne Ramsay. Well done everyone. Now over to Nelly…

North East Aircraft Museum
League Division 1
Usworth FC 2
Titch Conlin, Mark Muers, Neil Richardson
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Simon Mulvaney, Marc McDermont, Dave Gourlay, Kyle Robinson, Neil Richardson, Anthony Pearson (Rikki Kennedy), Stephen Conlin, Paul McConville, David “Jimmy” Raeper*

1st April 2009

Hylton CW 10 Sassco.co.uk 0.

From a high to a major low.

Davinder Sangha

A true disgrace and a low point in Sassco’s ten year history.

When I look at Hylton CW’s squad for a Wednesday evening and compare it to our threadbare numbers, it’s quite clear that the team, despite some remarkable results this season, has been standing still. Good on Hylton CW. They are obviously going for the League and managed to get a full turn out there.

Ours was the opposite. Will be controversial in saying this, but I am massively disappointed in Dave Gourlay prioritising his indoor, five a side over our 11-a-side game. True; he runs the team, but I run my own Tuesday team and League and cancel with no penalty whenever 11-a-side games clash. Again, it;s down to personal choice, but to choose a twenty minute game over an important 11-a-side game, especially after our two excellent recent results, is mind blowing. I’ve had wanks last longer than twenty minutes. All the other eleven there on the night had the same feelings about it.

Then, Dave Graham sent the expected text about being stuck in traffic beforehand, which botched my carefully planned team set up with fifteen minutes before kick off.

The big talking point was Macca’s performance and attitude. It’s no secret that Hylton CW wanted him to sign recently, and he performed as I expected him to. I was on for the first ten to fifteen minutes at left back. When I saw Macca turn up (and I commend him for turning up and playing, straight from work, just like I did with the other eleven players) I immediately hauled myself off for him. Yet, he played with no interest. Said he was injured early on, but I saw him bomb down the field in the second half. After the game, he left the team for good. I was actually going to just omit his performance and attitude from the report entirely, but it has to be written for the record. No wonder we lose every other game – some people just don’t want to play for the team. The hilarious thing was that he wanted to come off as he saw Stubba on the sidelines. Stubba with his crutches.

The calm before the hammering

The performance was a shocker. I have to say that certain players are very poor under pressure. They probably know who they are, but at least they show up and at least the effort’s there. Kyle and Greenwell were fighting a losing battle in the middle of the park and Jimmy with Nelly (in override whinge mode) struggled up front with hardly no service. Simon volunteered for centre half duty, which I thank him for, while Pea and Tim were full back. Paul Mc and Macca were on the flanks.

Simma was voted Man-of-the-match with some exceptional stops, but he couldn’t prevent the high score.

After the game, I made it known that only Titch and Stoker were missing from Saturday’s performance. What a difference. I’ve said it before that if one or two key players are missing, then we WILL struggle. I reckon one or two might bugger off between now and the end of the season. The team won’t collapse. We’ll cobble it together for the remaining games and re-group for the pre-season games in the Summer. Life goes on.

PS. Just when I finished writing this report, Bri just texted saying it was 10-0 not 9-0. Thank’s Bri – you know how to kick a man when he’s down…..

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Hylton CW 10

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson*, Anthony Pearson, Mark Muers, Simon Mulvaney, Tim Gillespie, Davinder Sangha (Marc McDermont), Kyle Robinson, Wayne Greenwell, Neil Richardson, Paul McConville, David “Jimmy” Raeper

28th March 2009

Sassco.co.uk 2 Sporting Redhouse 2.

Tash, bang, wallop. Harper’s team lets him down.

Keith Mouat is calmed down

A daunting task. We were due to play the Division favourites, Sporting, a team which has been bulldozing their recent opponents. Plenty of ex-Sassco players on show as well, with Kelsey, Kershaw and both Mouats for Sporting. On top of that, they had hammered us 10-2 in the controversial reverse fixture back in the Summer. It was even more difficult when I realised that we’d be without both Gourlay and Dave Graham, our centre midfield combination. Dixon was also still missing due to injury and both Rikki and Anth were unavailable. We also didn’t have a recognised striker. Swinhoe and Charlie were unavailable and Jimmy, who missed last week due to injury, was forced back early.

Also, we’ve never won a game when Emu’s captain.

Jimmy's surrounded

So, after all that bullshit above, you’d expect me to say that we got hammered, etc. We certainly didn’t and pulled off a remarkable and resilient performance. The terrible mistakes reared their ugly head when Stoker, under pressure, looped the ball over Simma for an own goal. From kick off, Simma then spilled the ball (he blames the wind) and it was too easy for Sporting. At 2-0 down against the top team in the Division. Only way was up.

Tim boots it clear

But then the unexpected comeback. Sporting probably took their foot off the pedal considering that we’d gifted two easy goals. We drove at them and Nelly then rattled the crossbar before Jimmy nodded in the returning ball. Both had excellent games and really caused problems for Sporting. Any little mistake was pounced on. A great time to get a goal. Normally we struggle to get back into games when down, but did for the this one. The real hero of the next few minutes was Sassco’s version of Pele, our very own Macca. He broke through and racing through on goal, as he rounded the ‘keeper, tried his hardest to give them a goal kick, but somehow squeezed the ball in to make it 2-2. Jimmy then did the same. We could have been 3-2 up, but Gav Kershaw made an excellent save. The half ended with both teams being level. The wind was on our back in the first half, and at the time I said I’d be shocked if we didn’t concede in the second.

Emu wins a header

Second half was goalless. Very proud of the side. We were depleted, but I know we had a decent eleven players out there. Kyle was a battler in midfield, but sometimes struggled to keep possession. He had a confrontation with Keith Mouat as they both went in for a tackle. He had a great chance late on to clinch it. It was a poorer performance from Greenwell, but it was revealed at the end that he was carrying a foot injury. Bring your own boots next time, dipstick.

Gareth Greener clears

Titch watches his head

Tash uncoordinated

Titch was good off the ball, but struggled on it, especially in the final third. Paul McConville came on to replace him ten minutes into the second half, just before he froze. Most of the team gave the ball away cheaply. Nelly was having his best game for us, as he was causing no end of problems. He should have actually scored the winner. The back line of Tim, Stoker, Muers and Si were exceptional in the second half. The wind was really against them, but they repelled everything. A good few free-kicks were given away, but Simma was only called on around three or four scary occasions.

Chris Chan's free-kick

I did enjoy doing the rounds in the second half, talking to the Tash and Tanj. For once, I think we got more out of this game then they did. Tash was poorly coordinated as usual. He was wearing an Adidas top with Adidas bottoms, but the stripes didn’t match on both. Also, the fact that his team is kitted out with Puma means that he simply isn’t on the same wave length.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 2 Marc McDermont, Dave Raeper
Sporting Redhouse 2
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Tim Gillespie, Marc McDermont, Kyle Robinson, Wayne Greenwell, Neil Richardson*, Steve “Titch” Conlin (Paul McConville), David “Jimmy” Raeper

21st March 2009

Sassco.co.uk 4 Usworth FC 1.

Macca gets a hat-trick. Dave “Gomes” Simpson saves his first penalty.

Macca's goal

A wonderful end to a glorious day. The sun was shining and it was genuine summer weather. Hopefully we’ll get more days like this for the run in. Sassco are a definitely a warm-weather team

Squad was improved on last week’s putrid performance. Both Greenwell and Gourlay were back. Also, Rikki Kennedy (brought in by me) and Kyle Robinson (Assistant Manager, Marc McDermont’s signing) came into the squad. Rikki as Non-regular, but Kyle as a Regular.

The only minor hiccups were me panicking about the lack of blue socks, Macca claiming he’d get a hat-trick and that Jimmy Raeper was injured. Hiccups aside, we had enough. Gourlay elected to go 4-5-1 due to the lack of strikers we had and also the amount of central midfielders we had. It was slightly hit and miss. For the first part of each half, the team struggled. Usworth were commanding in the opening ten minutes, but we settled and Macca grabbed the opener, which could have been slightly offside. No matter – we took it and finished the stronger team in the first half.

Stoker is spoken to.

Second half opened with a poor ten minutes. Usworth piled forward and scored, then moments later, Stoker gave away a penalty. “Gomes” Simpson was up for it and saved his first ever penalty for Sassco. This gave us the impetus and Nelly broke away a few minutes after this to put Sassco 2-1 ahead.

By now, Rikki had replaced Titch (on the wing). I told Rikki to push further forward, but the change was actually Gourlay going out left and Macca into attack. 4-4-2 was the best way. I also came on to replace a tiring Pearson, who actually had a good game, especially later in the first half. The other problem was that I had lent one of my boots to Greenwell (who’s boots had broken apart) and then had to squeeze into Titch’s size 8’s which crushed my foot for the rest of the game. Despite all this heartache, we were rarely troubled. Macca sprung again to score his second and from a tight angle grabbed his hat-trick.

It was good to hear the Usworth sidelines complain (after I executed a perfect back heel) that they’d been “done” by the “two worst left backs in the world.” Namely me and Pearson. Can’t get any better than that.

A good win and a much needed one. Big one next week against runaway leaders, Sporting Redhouse.

Half time

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 4 Neil Richardson, Marc McDermont 3
Usworth FC 1
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Anthony Pearson (Davinder Sangha), Marc McDermont, Dave Gourlay, Wayne Greenwell, Neil Richardson, Steve “Titch” Conlin (Rikki Kennedy), Kyle Robinson

14th March 2009

Sassco.co.uk 1 Seaham The Times Inn 3.

Getting more and more demoralising.


Right, here’s the excuses. Graham, Dixon, Charlton, Greenwell, Gourlay were all missing. On top of that, Farrer couldn’t make it and Tim was ill. However, Greenwell dropped a bollock on the day by being caught in traffic from Derwent Hill. Therefore, I forced Tim off his deathbed to turn up.

We were expecting Keith Moon to sign on the day, but he failed to show up.

A bare 11 then and an inevitable defeat. Players were being played in uncomfortable positions, with Macca partnering Nelly in the middle. Anth Pearson being forced out to the left wing, while McConville was on the right. Emu remained centre half with Stoker, and despite a strong wind in the first half, the back line (which included Si and Tim) kept it tight. The only goal in the opening came directly from a wind swept corner. Simpson was back to his usual best and made a tremendous amount of saves. However, at the other end, we didn’t have a shot on goal.

Second half, everyone was pumped up with the wind behind us, but I reminded them all that we actually have to shoot on target to get a goal. Prophetic words. We didn’t have ONE single shot on target in the second half. The game drifted away from us when Jimmy had to hobble off. Tim and Pearson were already struggling, but that meant I went right back and shoved Si into midfield with Macca up front alongside Titch. We soon went 2-0 down when one of their players was unchallenged and practically walked through to score.

However, a corner kick saw Stoker nod the ball on for Titch who headed it in. 2-1 and we were back in it. But, as always, we really didn’t take advantage and still didn’t get a single shot on target. We had plenty of shots, but none on target at all. I did explain to Emu that I compared him to a doggy bag of shit after his performance last week, but even he might have done something up front after Jimmy got injured.

They scored at the end from a mix up between me and Simma. I have to blame myself as I nodded the ball towards Simma, but it went beyond him and we were 3-1 down.

Poor all around. Very disappointed with the lack of squad these past few days. I did try and get the numbers in, but it’s clear that when we don’t have the full side, that we are in for a bit of a kicking. I honestly don’t blame players for leaving or showing a lack of interest because we just can’t get any consistency going. Got to say a big thank’s to the lads who did show and also poor Tim, who’s probably puking on the way home and shitting his pants in the car.

Getting very demoralised, but there’s always next Saturday…..

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 1 Steve “Titch” Conlin
Seaham The Times Inn 3
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, Simon Mulvaney, Tim Gillespie, Marc McDermont, Neil Richardson, Paul McConville, Anthony Pearson, Steve “Titch” Conlin, David Raeper (Davinder Sangha)

7th March 2009

Traveller’s Rest 5 Sassco.co.uk 2.

Chaotic and shit.

Backs to the wall

More than a disaster. Firstly, everyone was going to be held up due to some shocking traffic in and around Sunderland.


  • Stoker forgot his boots.
  • Simma and Bri Watson were hanging around waiting for Jimmy and Titch, a new signing (approximately the same size as Swinhoe).
  • Tim was there, but ill and couldn’t really handle playing.
  • I had to go to my house to try and source some boots for Stoker, without success.
  • We persuaded Simma to give his boots to Stoker.

Game kicked off.

Central defence was Pearson partnering Stoker as Dixon was absent and Emu was fresh from his two goals last week. McConville came in as Dave Graham was absent to partner Greenwell in the middle.

Nothing worked.

Stoker and Nelly

Pearson was caught a few times before losing his man to see him score. Within the first half we were 4-0 down. Truly shocking. A complete write off. Dave Gourlay was left back and in my opinion really need to be in the centre. Pearson was having a nightmare at centre half, while Macca was plain useless. McConville struggled in the middle and then was shifted to centre half (putting Pearson out on the left).

Second half I made the changes. We were 4-0 down and really had the opportunity to take advantage as Traveller’s foot was off the pedal. McConville came off, Emu went centre half. Pea remained left back while Gourlay went centre and Titch came on up front.

Instantly we got two goals back and frustratingly, we pissed around for the next twenty minutes in our own half instead of lobbing the ball at a nervous defence and picking up the many scraps they left. We should have secured two further goals. A goalmouth scramble was cleared. Nelly fired over the bar. And Titch, clear on goal, tried to lay it off, when he should have fired it in.

We didn’t deserve any share of any points. The game was lost in the opening half and the more we spend pissing around in our own area instead of using the pace and skill we have in attack, the more we deserve to be where we are. I really don’t know why some arseholes just dwell on the ball. Just kick the fucker and be pleased with it.

Some players are clearly not good enough. If we are missing one or two of our regulars, then we can’t compete.

Southern Area
League Division 1
Traveller’s Rest 5
Sassco.co.uk 2 Gareth Stoker, David Raeper
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Anthony Pearson, Gareth Stoker, Dave Gourlay, Simon Mulvaney, Wayne Greenwell, Marc McDermont, Neil Richardson, Paul McConville (Steve “Titch” Conlin), David Raeper,

28th February 2009

Cambridge FC 1 Sassco.co.uk 3.

A superb win, despite Muers getting two goals.

Emu takes the ball.

Side steps a few players.

Lashes the ball for a goal.

A receives the thank's from his team mates.

The threat to Emu was to get a goal within ten minutes otherwise he’d be off. We actually got one in about seven minutes.

A relief to get a great win after two very poor results in two cups. For the first time since our games against the Traveller’s and the Cambridge (both at home), we had a full squad. Charlie was missing and so was Pearson, but Graham, Stoker, Dixon, Swinhoe and Marky Mark were all back.

Gourlay's free-kick and Man-of-the-match, Stoker.

It showed as well. I derided Gourlay’s decision to put Emu up front. “He’s shite…” were my exact words, but I was left eating them. For the opening goal, he sidestepped two players in the box and rammed it home. A 1-0 lead was ruined by “Calamity” Simma again when a long range effort from Tyson bounced over him. “I couldn’t read the ball,” were his exact words. We don’t want you to learn your a, b and c, Simma, we just want you to save some of these minging shots.

However, all was back on track within minutes, when Jimmy, who was crunched just beforehand, powered his shot well beyond their ‘keeper. Muers then grabbed a second when Nelly’s cross was lost by their jumping ‘keeper, straight on to Emu’s shiny skull. We had another major chance when Gourlay’s free-kick was spectacularly saved. The middle of the field was controlled by Dave Graham, Greenwell, Macca and Nelly. Gourlay placed himself as left back with Si Mulvaney at right back. The team looked very settled and easily on top. The score was 3-1 and the referee blew for half-time.

Swinhoe, blowing out of his arse after around five minutes.

Second half, we dominated, just like the first. Countless chances hit the crossbar and post. Nelly crossed for Emu to get his hat-trick, but forgot that he had as much pace on him as a snail with a hamstring, and saw the ball cleared. Swinhoe came on for Jimmy and had a few close shaves, but failed to get on the scoresheet. Marky had now replaced Dixon (back after a long lay off) and the only scare occurred when we fell asleep while taking a corner. No one got back quick enough and we were happy to see the Cambridge player loop the ball high and well over the crossbar. Stoker was commanding at the back and easily kept their centre forwards in check. He also responded to every ball launched in and every corner was easily cleared.

A great win, and probably one of our most comfortable wins for a very long time. We didn’t really have any problems like we had against the same team at home (a fortunate 1-1 draw), which shows that we can compete when the full complement of players are there. Even Macca played well.

Northeast Aircraft Museum
League Division 1
Cambridge FC 1
Sassco.co.uk 3 Mark Muers 2, David Raeper
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Chris Dixon (Mark Middlemiss), Gareth Stoker*, Dave Gourlay, Simon Mulvaney, Wayne Greenwell, Marc McDermont, Neil Richardson, Dave Graham, David Raeper (Andy Swinhoe), Mark Muers.

21st February 2009

Sassco.co.uk 1 Hylton CW 5.

Another Cup, another poor showing, another elimination.

Charlie on the ball.

Another poor showing. We were depleted again with only one active (but late) substitute. Dave Graham, Tim Gillespie, Andy Swinhoe, Gareth Stoker and Chris Dixon were all missing. Greenwell turned up late, but we had two ageing and creaking veterans making a return. Bri Bob Marley and Andy Farrer both slotted in and did well as individuals. Nelly also made his long awaited competitive debut.

We went a goal down midway in an open half. We actually had better chances with the wind on our backs, and were playing on our old Pitch A, as we did back in the Saturday morning league. We conceded a stupid goal, but within minutes, Charlie crossed the ball for Jimmy who (to quote in his own words) made a “Bergkamp style touch and a John Arne Riise style strike in the top bag.”

But that was it. A free-kick saw Hylton CW equalise and we struggled to get back into it.

Nelly, Pearson, Crezza, Bri Marley and Jimmy.

Second half saw Hylton race further ahead with two goals and the game opened up. But, as always, we didn’t take what chances we had. Charlie, clear in the box, saw his shot cleared off the line. Nelly had two good chances – one being smothered by the goalkeeper when it looked as if he’d beaten him. Hylton scored the eventual fifth goal.

The other highlight was “Calamity” Simma’s astonishing saves. He was justly awarded the Man-of-the-match award. Scant reward though as Sassco have lost heavily again. Granted we were missing some very key players, but we had a solid enough team out there, but there was no urgency.

Dave G’s got his work cut out for him.

Community North Sports Complex
Challenge Cup Cup
Sassco.co.uk 1 David Raeper
Hylton CW 5
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Anth Pearson (Wayne Greenwell), Brian Marley, Andy Farrer, Simon Mulvaney, Dave Gourlay, Marc McDermont, David Raeper, Craig Charlton, Neil Richardson.

7th February 2009

Colonel Prior 8 Sassco.co.uk 1.

Pearson has a mud bath. Fatty returns for his single appearance. Shocked by the drop outs.

Wardle, Greenwell and Emu.

Anger is my current feeling, due to the drop outs. I specifically told everyone that it was an 11:45am pitch inspection. We were already short with Dixon, Stoker and even Gourlay being absent. Mickey Pearson was also missing due to injury (“I’m fucked” were his words).

Most disappointing was Swinhoe and Raeper. Both Okayed my texts and both failed to show, with varying excuses. Looks like after having a settled fourteen regulars, we have to go back to the drawing board for new regular players. Dave Graham was due there, but hit travelling problems and tailback on the A19 travelling from Darlington. Also, the early kick off wasn’t too helpful. Thankfully Dave Gourlay passed himself fit and, lo and behold, Fatty Wardle came back for Sassco surge as his morning game was off. Wayne Greenwell arranged to get him (by that I mean he told Emu to get him). Ed Morrison, who agreed to come along, also dropped me in it.

Fair enough, a lot (me included) expected the game to be off. But you don’t make plans for Saturday until you know it’s definitely off. I can be informed a day or two beforehand, but four players not showing on the day is impossible to compensate for.

Mud bath of a pitch.

I had to play and ended the game with my leg hanging off a string along with a bruised shin.

The pitch was truly spectacular. I’m not one for Health & Safety, so I would have played on it anyway, but it was hard and mainly sand in the danger areas. Good enough for me though, but I could have seen several referees call the game off.

We started reasonably well. We held on, but a poor opener was soon added to when it hit Wardle’s arse and went in. Both early two goals were deflected into the net. Wardle then scored a superb long range effort to make it 2-1, but Simma (aka Mr. Fumbles) saw a ball squirm out of his hands as a gift to Colonel Prior. 3-1. Then Pearson and Emu collided with each other and landed on top of each other. I was busy laughing but then decided to bomb back into the area just in time for the ball to whack off me into the back of the net. Simma had an enterprising game. Firstly he was criticized for failing to rush out of his area, then he kneed Pearson in the skull (just before the first goal was conceded).

By now, we were a bit irritated. Emu had a bit of a face off to with one of theirs and we were 5-1 down at the break with only one shot on target to show for it.

Second half saw Sassco hold out for a while before a further three goals. By this time, we realised Macca was completely shite and dragged him back in defence after he missed a one-on-one. Emu then went up and had our third shot, but it was just off target.

Glad the game was done and dusted. It had been postponed several times, so it was good to get a run out. Really pissed with the drop outs. Looks like I’ll be asking for me coat and polo’s back (again).

Community North Sports Complex
Alan Hood Cup
Colonel Prior 8
Sassco.co.uk 1 Jon Wardle
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Anth Pearson, Davinder Sangha, Simon Mulvaney, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Marc McDermont, Jon Wardle, Craig Charlton, Tim Gillespie.

24th January 2009

Sassco.co.uk 6 Times Inn 3.

Pearson (that’s Anth, not Mickey) saves the day, but another poor performance.

Even though we won, it was a putrid performance. It was against our local nemesis team, Cauld Lad / Times Inn. Much to our pleasure, Mickey Donkin and Danny Defty were playing. However, Donkin was benched, and by the time he got on, the game was secure.

I intended to camcorder this one and froze in the process. However, the plan was nearly scuppered when Jimmy Rasper and Dave Graham bowed out. Graham did tell me he was 50-50 due to injury and Rasper struggled with a babysitter. I did have Anth Pearson called up beforehand and he turned the game with a stunning hat-trick. Other absentees were Mulvaney and Mickey Pearson. Swinhoe and Tim were back in action.

As General Manager, it was going to be easy for me relinquishing tactical duties to Gourlay, but as you can hear on the soon to be uploaded match footage, my tourettes were kicking in.

We didn’t play all too well, but were ahead 2-0. Pearson and Swinhoe with the goals. Yet, within moments, Times Inn were back in it. They fired in a reply then Stoker flung himself at one of their players to give away a penalty. After that, they seemed to win all the knock downs and second balls as we were poor. But, Pearson struck again to make it 3-2 at half time.

Second half was still 50-50 for quite a while until Pearson struck again, followed by Macca’s goals, most of them set up by Charlie (that’s what he told me). We had breathing space and eventually won 6-3, with them scoring a goal when 6-2 up.

A few incidents here and there. Mickey Donkin came whimpering on the pitch when the game was well and truly over. A far cry from his heady days with Sassco. Bri Marley also turned up with Mini-Marley, who attempted shake the camera every few minutes. A dog also ran onto the pitch. The poor lad who was (allegedly) controlling it, looked like he was going to shite himself when everyone was bellowing, “get the f***er off the pitch!”

Nothing much else. The nets and corner flags were handled impeccably. My young un nearly broke his back playing football in the shower area with his boots on. Greenwell’s shooting was as accurate as the blanks he fires in the bedroom.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 6 Andy Swinhoe, Anth Pearson 3, Marc McDermont 2
Times Inn FC 3
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, Chris Dixon, Tim Gillespie, Anth Pearson, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Marc McDermont, Andy Swinhoe, Craig Charlton.

17th January 2009

Sassco.co.uk 1 Cambridge FC 1.

Poor performance, but a late equaliser makes it worse.

Dixon's the man.

A right clanger of a game. After the two excellent performances recently, we came down with an almighty bang and were lucky to escape with a point.

First half was really poor. Defensively, there were too many errors and people not being decisive enough by clearing the ball. In the middle, everyone seemed unsure of what to do and up front, we barely had a shot.

A moment of pause during the game.

The first meaningful chance came very late in the half, when Jimmy hit the crossbar, but prior to this the majority of the goalmouth scrambles were at Simma’s end. Swinhoe and Pearson were absent for this one and they were sorely missed. True, Charlie and Jimmy were there and up front, but Charlie came off early due to a groin strain to be replaced by Mark Middlemiss, in his first game since the Summer in England and November in Malta. He slotted in at centre half and immediately the back line was a bit more solid. Dixon went up front.

Greenwell with the ball, Muers and Charlie.

I’d have to point out two shocking performances from Macca and Emu. I’m convinced that if Emu broke a leg or something, we’d win the League, but he’s there and there you go. Macca was clueless as well. Mind you, I’ve seen Britney Spears pull off better performances than both of them put together.

Despite all this chaos, with the score tied at 0-0 with around ten minutes remaining, Stoker pushed up front and swiveled to nod in a ball to give Sassco the lead. We were now quite impressed with ourselves. Macca missed an absolute sitter which would have sewn up the game, but late on, Marky Mark was caught on the ball and the resulting move led to Cambridge’s equaliser. It was deserved, but very galling and irritating. We then had two more crackers to go ahead when Muers and DIxon fired from distance, but just wide.

Simpson makes another save

A draw was a fair result and I would have taken that at half time. Gourlay wasn’t happy though as his standards are higher than mine. Eventually they’ll get lower when he realises that Emu never gets injured.

Community North Sports Complex
Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 1 Gareth Stoker
Cambridge FC 1
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker, Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Dave Graham, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Marc McDermont, David Raeper, Craig Charlton (Mark Middlemiss*).

3rd January 2009

Sassco.co.uk 4 Traveller’s Rest 2.

Four different players on the scoresheet.

The net bulges and Sassco are 2-0 ahead

The mid-season friendly did us all good. The squad responded to my bulk text messages and, apart from Digga being stuck on the pot with the shits, we were full-strength for the first time in a long time. The squad seems settled for the moment with the thirteen on show, plus Dixon. Charlie and Jimmy are regulars now, replacing Lewis and Cresswell. Mickey Pearson also seems to be back in regular action (until the thumb strikes again).

Muers the finance man and Gourlay the coach

An overly long team talk saw everyone lacking in concentration near the end of it. I did tell Dave G afterwards that my talks tended to consist of “Muers, get back you lazy shite and get goalside.” Simple bullet points.

A minutes silence for Nicky Pemberton

Just prior to kick off, both teams and all involved held a minute silence in remembrance of Nicky Pemberton from Dagmar, who passed away over Christmas.

This was our first game back on our home pitch since October, when we last played against the Traveller’s, a team who were well on form having been unbeaten since September, a staggering seven games. Wish we could do that.

Raeper and Charlie in action

Yet, the form book was turned upside down as Sassco ghosted into a two goal lead. The first coming from Macca (dubbed the “white Pele by NaSA FC), wearing my fake Chinese imported Copa’s, from a Greenwell cross. Greenwell was back in the good books after falling asleep for Sunday’s game. The second followed shortly when Jimmy Raeper floated in a corner kick which was going into the back of the net. The Traveller’s defender could only help it in (where it was going any way).

2-0 up and apparently coasting. In our last encounter with Traveller’s it was the opposite, and we had to rely on the now vanished Lewis to fire two goals to get us back into it. The Traveller’s goalkeeper spectacularly palmed out a Charlie volley which could have made it 3-0 (both Charlie and Jimmy were a handful up front). But as I was getting the ball, they scored. We went in at half time 2-1 ahead, but were glad of the break due to the Traveller’s finishing the half as the better side. Ironically, going in at 2-1 was probably better than 2-0. Had we gone in at 2-0 and they’d scored in the second, then we’d get no respite. Now, during the break, we knew we were up against it and were desperate to keep the single goal lead.

The second half saw Swinhoe come on up front and Macca coming off. Macca has now fired in five goals in three games. Soon after this, Tim came on to replace Muers, who had a mixed game at left back. Gourlay had shuffled Muers out wide after his poor performances recently, and despite being caught now and then, he did a good job. The game was more even, but still Traveller’s seemed to be putting more pressure on. A foul on Dave Graham gave us a free-kick. It was now or never to get the pressure off and Dave Gourlay didn’t disappoint. The ball looped over the wall and past a stranded ‘keeper to make it 3-1.

Macca and Raeper being congratulated

We were always one step ahead of the Traveller’s. A shocker of an offside decision meant Traveller’s clawed one back to make it 3-2. But in local football, with only one referee and no assistants, it’s going to happen from time to time. Even with this set back, the defence was confident for most of the second half. It was good to have Gareth back there in full tourettes mode, with Mickey Pearson able and comfortable beside him. Si Mulvaney seems to be getting back in to the swing of things after recent injuries and Simma was a legend this time, managing to pluck everything out of the air and on the floor in a bumpy and muddy pitch. We even heard his growling voice, which was unusual, if not a bit scary.

Gourlay's free-kick

It was then, when under pressure, that Jimmy picked out a superb pass for Swinhoe. One chance and it was 4-2. The “Albino Assassin” strikes again. The scoring ended there as Traveller’s, despite still putting the work in, just ran out of steam. A great win against an in-form team and two back-to-back wins from Sassco.

An even tougher game next week against Colonel Prior, who hammered Cressy’s Hylton CW 5-0.

Community North Sports Complex
League Cup
Sassco.co.uk 4 Marc McDermont, David “Jimmy” Raeper, Dave Gourlay, Andy Swinhoe
Traveller’s Rest 2
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark Muers (Tim Gillespie), Gareth Stoker, Marc McDermont (Andy Swinhoe), Simon Mulvaney, Mickey Pearson, Dave Gourlay*, Dave Graham, Wayne Greenwell, David Raeper, Craig Charlton

28th December 2008

Sassco.co.uk 7 NaSA Continental 4.

Macca’s record time hat-trick. Charlie gets three as well.

The white Pele!

Chaotic to say the least. Firstly, we were parked outside and ready on the wrong pitch. It was next to the run down housing you see when driving past Felling Bypass. Then it was a convoy up and down the Bypass looking for the pitch, which led to me driving up the wrong way on the motorway.

Finally we got there. The opponents, NaSA FC were two men down. I stood in for them. Gav Kershaw had been roped in to play in goal for them. So it was Sassco 11 against NaSA 10. The first half saw Macca score a hat-trick within three minutes. This was followed by three very impressive goals from Charlie, including one which saw him deceive the ‘keeper and then follow on to fire it in. Macca claimed he set all six goals up. Tim (yes, Tim!) returning from his world wide expeditions, shot through the goalkeeper to make it 7-0. Good work all around. Dave Graham came off at half time, so it was 10 v 10. Sassco, being 7-0 up started messing around, hence four late goals from NaSA in the second half.

Decent work out for all involved. With the amount of games off recently, it was good to get out and on the pitch. Mind you, lost a shirt before the game and after it. Not very pleased about it, but I’m sure it won’t turn up – a bit like Assistant Coach, Wayne Greenwell, who has been sacked from his role.

Nice that we got a win to end the year and also our first win since 11th October (and Dave Gourlay’s first win as Coach – well done Dave G.).

Somewhere in Gateshead
Mid-season friendly
Sassco.co.uk 7 Marc McDermont 3, Craig Charlton 3, Tim Gillespie
NaSA Continental 4
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Paul McConville, Chris Dixon, Marc McDermont*, Simon Mulvaney, Anthony Pearson, Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham, David Raeper, Craig Charlton*, Tim Gillespie,

15th December 2008

Latest News.

Tightening up the player rules.

I’ll text this to those not on email as well so everyone had it. Please can you reply to this email once you’ve read it.

Due to the problems we had last Saturday for the late repliers. From now on, anyone missing the previous week, will probably start on bench following week. This could be for any reason (work, illness, etc.) We play on a Saturday so need to cater for players who don’t work on Saturdays – otherwise we’d start playing on a Sunday.

Also, need to know within a few hours of me sending a text out if available on Saturdays. If i send a text on Wednesday, I need to know by Wednesday. You can reply by saying, could be working, won’t find out till Fri, could still be injured, etc. but as long as i know. If no reply, then I’ll get someone in on Thursday and if you reply back late, could have to miss out if team is set.

The 14 who I’ll contact for each Saturday are as follows:

01. Dave Simpson
02. Mark Muers
03. Chris Dixon
04. Stephen Lewis
05. Marc McDermont
06. Andy Swinhoe
07. Wayne Greenwell
08. Tim Gillespie
09. David Gourlay
10. Gareth Stoker
11. Dave Graham
12. Simon Mulvaney
13. Craig Charlton
14. David Raeper

If anyone of the above isn’t there, then the likes of Pearson (Anth and Mick), Ed Morrison, Paul McConville and the rest of the Non-regulars will be asked to play. If you miss too many games, then I’d pull you out of the 14 and get someone else in, as the most important thing we need is a settled team.

Also, everyone wear polos (if got them) and coats. Anyone not wearing will be fined £1.

And don’t get excited by saying you won’t pay. Once you sign, you are bound by the rules and if you don’t pay up, then Durham will ban you until you win (not that we’d haul you over the coals for a couple of quid). The money would go back into the team.

13th December 2008 | back to top

Mountain Daisy 6 Sassco.co.uk 2.

Crap defence.

Cold, wet and miserable.

Planning was difficult. As General Manager with no worries on line-up, tactics, etc. life was supposed to be easier.

But, Stoker and Lewis didn’t let me know they’d be unavailable until Friday. Then on the day Macca dropped out. Tim just didn’t answer his phone. Greenwell only let me know on the day. Swinhoe was 50-50 with work, but I rang beforehand to make sure. I also checked on our new (or old) signings and they were both available. We expected twelve there and got twelve.

Another problem arose. Relaxing in the car at Ford Quarry, up piped Brian Watson saying that, “you know it’s a 1:30pm kick off, don’t you?” Bugger! Bri explained to the referee and the opponents, so we kicked off a tad bit late at around 1:50pm.

The game itself then. Overall, a very poor performance again. Another 6-2 defeat. We went 2-0 down after some horrendous efforts at the back (with McConville, Muers, Digga, Pea and Simma in goal), but clawed our way back and looked on top at 2-2.

Both the goals came from Swinhoe, making a return after a long absence due to work. Craig Charlton and David “Jimmy” Raeper were making their debuts (or returns to be exact) and added some good skill and speed in difficult conditions.

We looked okay in the first exchanges. Up front we were creating openings, but at the back, as mentioned, we conceded an easy first goal, then a poor second one. The back-line was completely different from the one which lost by the same score to Seaham. It was going to be one of those days again, but up popped Swinhoe to latch on to a through ball to put it beyond the ‘keeper. Not too long after that, a corner kick led to Swinhoe hooking the ball over his shoulder into the back of the net. Before and after the goals, we had lots of good chances. A long range drive from Gourlay was saved by the ‘keeper as squirmed agonisingly wide. Greenwell had a top corner free kick which banged off the shoulder of the wall for a corner. Charlie and jimmy also had chances, but it seemed as if the team were over elaborating in attack instead of getting a quick shot off. Swinhoe had some good chances to get his hat-trick as well.

Then we went 3-2 down. From a non-incident, the ball was bouncing here and there in the box. The now lumbering Emu and the rest of his back line were static and played one of theirs onside. 3-2 and it was half time.

Second half was over when Simma decided to try and kick the ball instead of pouncing on it. A further two goals came later on to make it 6-2. We still had chances, but by then it was way too cold and we just wanted to go home.

Got to mention a few things, including poor Anth Pearson, who was soaked through to the bone, because I just saw him on his back side after making sliding tackles in the only parts of the pitch where the puddles were.

Swinhoe’s return with two goals (and a Man-of-the-match award) was excellent as he combined well with Charlie and Jimmy – both who did well in a difficult game. Greenwell, Dave Graham and Gourlay were all strong in the middle and we pulled off some good passing. As mentioned, the back line were pants. Can’t really say any more than that. They know they were bad and overall, it was disappointing (obviously) as all the hard work we put in when defeating Blue Bell in the last round was wasted.

Ford Quarry
Wearmouth Trophy
Mountain Daisy 6
Sassco.co.uk 2 Andy Swinhoe 2
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson*, Paul McConville, Chris Dixon, Mark Muers (Davinder Sangha), Anthony Pearson, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham, David Raeper, Craig Charlton, Andy Swinhoe*

8th December 2008

Latest News.

New signings and team structure.

Craig Charlton and David “Jimmy” Raeper.
Craig Charlton has transferred from Redhouse FC to rejoin Sassco. This will hopefully fill a void left by Cresswell, who is actually in limbo at the moment as he is not allowed to sign for anyone until we get a formal request from another team by recorded mail (as per the rules).

The last time “Charlie” donned a Sassco jersey was in the defeat to Blackhall Hardwick in the Summer of 2007, before joining the Champions, Redhouse FC. He also scored a hat-trick in the game v Whitley Bay Deaf prior to this. His debut was in the 6-0 win over Three Horse Shoes back in 2005.

David “Jimmy” Raeper is also due to sign, and as he wasn’t assigned to any team, the paperwork will be done prior to the next game. Jimmy last played late in 2007 away loss to Jolly Potter in our 2-1 defeat. His debut was on the 12th August in our pre-season loss to Heritage back in 2006. With Swinhoe being absent due to work, it should add a few more options to the rapidly depleted attack where we’ve been forced to employ the aging Muers and the misfiring Dixon – both who’d be classed as defenders.

As shown in the past, ex-Sassco players always seem to return.

Changes to team structure.
Dave Gourlay has been appointed as Team Coach, with Wayne Greenwell as Assistant Coach. This was introduced in Malta and seems to work well with Davinder Sangha concentrating on the General Manager role. We are looking for an Assistant Manager as well, but this could be an internal role.

We’ve classed Dave Graham alongside Dixon as First Aid.

29th November 2008

Seaham The Times Inn 6 Sassco.co.uk 2.

It was warm in Malta.

Pearson, our Action Man (with eagle eyes and all).

Back to a cold, harsh reality for Sassco, as the warm jaunt in Malta gave way for icy conditions, a tired looking team and a heavy defeat. I knew we should have stopped off in Holland on the way back, just to acclimatise.

As Dave Gourlay was setting out the team (as he did in Malta from the second game), we had Emu and Dixon up front, a hark back to 2002 when both were classed as our front two. Everyone else was there apart from Lewis (still banned) and Swinhoe (working for beer money). Simon Mulvaney also came back from an injury lay off.

Greenwell, Simma and Gourlay watch the ball clear.

I thought it was going to be called off. I was told the pitch was hard, but as per rules we made sure that we were all ready to play. I went down early and the pitch seemed okay, if not a little hard. Once we got the go ahead, I called all the players and everyone arrived on time. It was a good idea. In future, we’ll probably do the same, saving everyone travel time. As mentioned, the pitch was a tad bit hard and our lot started complaining a bit, to which I asked if everyone had turned “soft.” I’d play on any pitch, doesn’t matter the conditions. Referee Ken (or was it Jason) Short, did an admirable job throughout the game. Top marks.

Dixon missed a glorious chance to put us one up, but then they caught us on the break and went 1-0 ahead. We were truly poor and in a matter of minutes were 3-0 down. The score remained the same until the second half where they went a further three goals up. By now, Si replaced Tim and Anth Pearson replaced Dave Graham, who was playing with concussion after falling out of a top bunk on the North Sea Ferry (you just can’t make things like that up).

Dixon can't roll back the years.

Eventually, Emu fired one in to make it 6-1, then Macca did the same to make it 6-2. Too little too late. Macca actually scored wearing my fake Chinese Copa Mundial rip-offs. Muers was slow and lethargic up front – not to different to one of those First World War tanks, you know the ones without any windows or port holes.

We’ll write this one off (I’m sure I say that every other week).

Murton Colliery Welfare
League Division 1
Seaham The Times Inn 6
Sassco.co.uk 2 Mark Muers, Marc McDermont
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson*, Marc McDermont, Michael Pearson, Gareth Stoker, Tim Gillespie (Simon Mulvaney), Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham (Anthony Pearson) Paul McConville, Chris Dixon, Mark Muers

Sassco facebook section

18th October 2008

Sassco.co.uk 3 Traveller’s Rest 3.

2-0 down, Dave Graham injured – could it get worse?

Greenwell gobbing on the floor after the game.

A bit of a clanger of a game. After last week’s heroics, we could present a full team with the additions of Jamie Wilson, Gareth Stoker and Stephen “The Liar” Lewis back in. Missing were Stubba and Tim, the latter out through injury.

The more I looked at the Traveller’s Rest results, the more worried I got. They had similar results to ourselves including a win over the fancied Cambridge. My biggest worry was about dwelling on last week’s result and not the performance. In the event, it was complete error strewn, with Simma “Butter fingers” taking the blame for most of them. A speculative long distance shot saw it slip out of his hands. It was so easy that even the camcorder was panning away. I did manage to get him picking the ball out of the net.

Second one was when Digga limp wristedly took a goal kick which went straight to their player. Another long range shot saw Simma palm it into the net. Then (or was it before the second went in), Dave Graham had to come off due to injury. So, 2-0 down, our main battler out and injured – what more could happen. I put Stephen Lewis on the left and shoved Greenwell in the middle. Almost immediately, we made a comeback. Lewis broke clear and reduced the deficit and not too long after, scored again 2-2 and it was all square. However, we shot ourselves in the foot. The poor performance from Muers got worst as he gave away a simple free-kick. The ball looped over Simma, who probably should have been able to punch it out.

At half time, we weren’t overly worried. Muers came off and Gareth Stoker was on. Macca then injured himself and Jamie Wilson came on. Jamie was pleased as we were wearing the blue tops. The Kappa ones would have been shot to bits as everyone noticed that he’s piling the pounds on. Eventually, a speculative shot saw Traveller’s goalkeeper spill the ball and it was 3-3. A few minor scares at our end happened, but we had chances at the other end, including Lewis’ point blank effort which was smothered by the ‘keeper.

Not too worried. Keeps the feet firmly on the ground. We clawed a game back from 2-0 down so it’s actually a very good result. Traveller’s look like a useful team as well.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 3 Stephen Lewis 2, Mark Cresswell
Traveller’s Rest 3
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Marc McDermont (Jamie Wilson), Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers (Gareth Stoker), Michael Pearson, Stephen Lewis, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham (Stephen Lewis*), Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell.

11th October 2008

Sassco.co.uk 3 Fulwell Blue Bell 1.

Sassco at their best.

Dave Graham launches a free-kick past Coyney.

An outstanding result and performance. One of our best, and definitely the best this season.

I expected a full fourteen there. But being Sassco, everything good tends to turn to shite now and then. Very disappointed and surprised with the drop outs. We were missing Macca, Lewis, Stoker and Greenwell. I subsequently discovered that Greenwell was in Blackpool and did send me a text, but I didn’t get it. Lewis, when answering his phone, said he was in the town and would be there for kick off. The players were offering me bets that he wouldn’t turn up and I’m glad I didn’t bet against them. True to form – just like a couple of times before, he dropped me in it. I’ll have to class him as a non-regular player now as it’s too difficult for me not to see players I expect to be there. Macca did say he was working and would be there for the second half. So I assume work took over. I had that covered. Stoker also failed to show despite saying he was okay for it. I’ve just found out (via text) that he was out on the lash and didn’t wake up until after 1:00pm today. Not good. I need regulars. In place, I had Mickey Pearson and also Stubba, but instead of the two or three subs I expected – it was only me. Ironically, Anth Pearson texted me asking how many we had. I told him 14, but not to quote me on it. How true to form.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's Fulwell Blue Bell clearing their lines. Gourlay and the Horrible Stubba in the backgroundnd

So the drop outs against our strongest opponents. Premier League Fulwell Blue Bell, who’d only been beaten once this season and walked our Division last season. It was going to be a battle, but I barely saw any of the first half as I was stuck in Blair Witch Forest looking for a ball for around thirty minutes with no luck. Before I forget, a big thanks to Paul, Team Secretary Bri’s son. Always there for most games and helping out retrieving the ball and carrying the gear. Much appreciated.

Emu laughs off Yatesy comments about him being "Fat, old and bald" and Rob King gets dismissed in extra time

Anyway, back to the game. I heard the Fulwell roar, which meant they were 1-0 up. I heard that Emu was claiming offside for his own ineptitude and Yatesy (of all people) had time to slot past Simma. We had it all to do and we didn’t half work hard. I’m really pleased we don’t have to play teams like Fulwell each week. Too much hard work, but we put it in and had some odd chances. Dave Graham was bruised, bloodied and dominant in the middle, suffering his fair share of tackles and eventually winning the Man-of-the-match award. I joked that Dave Graham was anonymous last week when Emu grabbed all the glory in our 12-0 win, but joking aside prior to the game, we both agreed that it was in these games, against superior opponents, that it all counts. Dave Gourlay was always there for the ball and did wonders with it. Flanking them were Stubba and Mickey Pearson. Both played superb, but it was the back line which was particularly excellent. Si, Emu, Dixon and Tim (they don’t like his posh sort round these parts) were strong in the tackle and were no nonsense. Dixon, in particular was very strong in the air as Emu was struggling (like I said he would do last week) late in the game and was even wallowing about in the mud like a shot hippopotamus. Ironically, he got the ball and cleared it when he was on his arse. Simpson was at his best and seems to getting more and more aggressive each week. I’m sure he’ll start using swear words soon. He clawed many a ball out of the air against a very tall team and was battered himself on occasions.

Simma and Rob King on a corner. Swinhoe jogs back after calmly scoring the equaliser in the last five minutes

We needed a goal – desperately. Being a pessimist and also having the pleasure of hearing Dixon call me a “tumour” I didn’t expect one to come. A goalmouth scramble saw their ‘keeper save from point blank range. I expected that to be it, but both Swinhoe and Cresswell were outstanding and never gave up. They got their reward as Swinhoe looped the ball over the goalkeeper with around five minutes remaining. Swinhoe had a good running contest with Rob King. Actually, it’s a genuine case of Swinhoe being Rob’s “mini-me.” No more goals were scored so extra time was called for. However, we were trying to persuade the referee to toss a coin or call penalties.

Dave Graham and Marc Stephenson. Both had an absorbing running battle throughout the game.

There was pandemonium in the Fulwell side during the break as both King’s nearly came to blows with each other. Most of us hid behind our subs bench expecting a line of Blue Bell players to storm across the pitch causing carnage. They seemed to be collapsing into chaos. Simply for Sassco to take them to extra time seemed to be like a defeat and early in the restart, Swinhoe played Cresswell in and he made no mistake. Fulwell claimed offside and eventually Rob King was dismissed for swearing at the referee. Immediately after this, Yates had two stunning chances for Fulwell. One was wide and the other hit the crossbar. The luck was on our side for a change and before the extra time half, Swinhoe again put Cresswell through and Sassco were 3-1 ahead. The game petered out in the end as Yatesy was struggling and after a long stoppage, the referee blew for the end of the game.

So, a very impressive performance. Disappointed with the drop outs so will probably re-evaluate the regular squad. There are good players out there such as Jamie Wilson who haven’t been called on due to me expecting everyone else to be there. But the downside is well overshadowed by our outstanding win.

Oh…and I got the missing ball back as well.

Sassco.co.uk pictured before the game. Standing (from left to right) are Brian Watson (Team Secretary), Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, David Graham, Mark Muers, David Simpson and Davinder Sangha (Manager). In front (from left to right) are Steve Stubbs, Andy Swinhoe, Michael Pearson, Dave Gourlay, Mark Cresswell and Tim Gillespie.
Sassco.co.uk pictured before the game. Standing (from left to right) are Brian Watson (Team Secretary), Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney,
David Graham, Mark Muers, David Simpson and Davinder Sangha (Manager). In front (from left to right) are Steve Stubbs, Andy Swinhoe,
Michael Pearson, Dave Gourlay, Mark Cresswell and Tim Gillespie.

Community North Sports Complex
Wearmouth Cup
Sassco.co.uk 3 Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell 2
Fulwell Blue Bell 1
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Tim Gillespie, Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers, Michael Pearson, Stephen Lewis, Steve Stubbs, Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham*, Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell.

4th October 2008

Sassco.co.uk 12 Sportman’s Arms 0.

Miserable weather, but our highest ever score.

Half time coffee and cigarettes.

Despite it lashing down, despite the opponents turning up late and despite Emu, somehow, being squeezed into our new Kappa red shirts, we took on a weakened Sportman’s Arms team and put twelve goals past them – our highest ever score. It was a good contrast to the debacle last week, which everyone considers to be a one-off. For this one, only Stoker and Pearson were missing. Stubba also decided to turn up. Macca was in Cressy’s car for the majority of the game, perving and also keeping warm.

Taken from an original DVD recording. A DVD of this game in broadcast quality is available on request.

Dave Graham was back and Tim also came back from being absent last week. The weather couldn’t have been more different from last Saturday as well. From searing heat, to crappy cold, wet and damp weather. I somehow managed to record the game on a camcorder as well, even though I had to wipe the lense at every pause.

From the off, we looked a bit disjointed. It was 4-4-2, but eventually, after Dave Graham was felled in the box, Cressy dispatched the penalty and we were on our way. I won’t dwell on the order that we scored, so will just say that Cressy scored four goals, Dave Gourlay got two. Muers also got two and isn’t it surprising that he didn’t feel injured in the second half like he normally does against the stronger teams – soft shite. Lewis, Swinhoe, Greenwell and Macca all got one each. This was, I think, Greenwell’s first goal for us since his return. Swinhoe and Lewis missed some howlers mind you. Don’t ask me how, but they voted poor Swinhoe as Man-of-the-match. It was one of those games where anyone could have got it, apart from Dave Graham, who didn’t score and was anonymous in the second half. Even the video camera didn’t catch him. I took Tim off to put Macca on and then Stubba (horrible cunt), came on for Lewis. I had planned for Emu to come off, but unfortunately, he scored before I had the chance, so Lewis came off instead.

Tiger tim in the mixer.

Good result then (obviously). Sportman’s were probably weakened due to the Sunderland game, but we play on the afternoons as well and my squad doesn’t contain any season ticket holders. I know other teams struggled when Sunderland play at home, but everyone needs to pick players who don’t go to the matches. Good on the Sportman’s lads though. They kept at it to the end as most teams do in this League.

Gourlay on the ball.
Referee, Anna, was excellent as well. Both teams commended her performance today. And she’s certainly better looking than some of the old farts with the whistle we’ve had the pleasure to view over the last few years.

The new shirts were quite popular as well. First time I’ve gone over to someone else apart from Adidas. Looks likely we’ll switch over from Adidas to Kappa for next season if we have to.

Community North Sports Complex
League Division 1
Sassco.co.uk 12 Andy Swinhoe, Stephen Lewis, Wayne Greenwell, Marc McDermont, Mark Cresswell 4, Dave Gourlay 2, Mark Muers 2
Sportman’s Arms 0
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Tim Gillespie (Marc McDermont), Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers, Wayne Greenwell, Stephen Lewis (Steve Stubbs), Dave Gourlay, Dave Graham, Andy Swinhoe*, Mark Cresswell.

27th September 2008

Sporting Redhouse 10 Sassco.co.uk 2.

Diabolical referee sees Sassco collapse at 3-2 down with another red card.

Cressy's free-kick

A bit of a poor day out today. We did okay, but the odds were stacked against us. Don’t want to dwell on it too much, but the referee, Ken Street, had a true shocker. There weren’t any major decisions, such as penalties, etc. but every minor decision went their way. It’s quite obvious that Ken Street didn’t have the bottle to penalise a predominantly ethnic orientated team. I reckon this is going to happen quite a bit this season, as most of the referees probably haven’t officiated in any ethnic leagues and so on. This is coming from someone who has rarely complained about a referee’s on pitch performance and praised the majority of them. The key decision was when Gareth Stoker clearly booted the ball off their player to see it out for a goal kick. But Ken gave a corner kick. Stoker complained and was booked for his troubles. Ken then realised he’d booked him earlier so Stoker was off. The arguments wouldn’t have occurred, but leading it to it, almost every decision went against Sassco. They scored to make it 3-2 to them from a corner kick which shouldn’t have been. Frustration at the other end. Digga missed an open goal with only Gav Kershaw to beat moments after Cresswell had a weak shot saved. At the other end, Sporting dispatched a penalty and Sassco collapsed. Cresswell asked to come off before he got sent off, while Lewis got whacked in the balls. Swinhoe got an elbow in the face and Cressy was concussed earlier. Near the end, I hand-balled in the box right in front of Ken, but he didn’t give it to them out of sympathy to us. I even told him I hand-balled it, which shows such a poor judgment from the official. One of their lads even booted the ball away in frustration in the first half and several made late challenges. All didn’t receive a booking and rarely got us a free-kick, while everyone we did, seemed to result in one.

Pearson on the ball

Like I said, I think this is going to happen quite a lot in Sporting’s games. It’d be interesting to see how other teams get penalised by the referee’s in due course, while Sporting won’t. Like I said, it’s the minor things, but when they get every marginal decision, then every team’s going to struggle.

Gourlay, Swinhoe and Cresswell.

Sporting were worth their win. I only really recognised Gareth Greener, Michael Ross and Gav Kershaw. Also, Steve Scott (ex-Barbados), ran Dixon ragged in the first half and despite them scoring, Lewis hit back with an equaliser and Swinhoe got an overdue goal to make it 2-1 at half time. Second half, we looked lethargic. Emu bottled it and his leg went again as they went 2-2. Poor performances all around really. Greenwell seemingly can’t handle centre midfield, while the rest of the team couldn’t make a simple clearance from the back.

Oh, and we’re not getting promoted this season neither. Need a massive improvement in attitude and temperament as well. That’s around two red cards and numerous yellows within a matter of a few games. Yes, the referee was nothing short of diabolical, but we need to keep a lid on it and carry on with it. Back to the drawing board again.

Gateshead 3G
League Division 1
Sporting Redhouse 10
Sassco.co.uk 2
Andy Swinhoe, Stephen Lewis
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Gareth Stoker (2 yellow cards), Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers, Wayne Greenwell, Stephen Lewis (Anthony Pearson), Dave Gourlay, Mickey Pearson, Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell (Davinder Sangha).

20th September 2008

Sassco.co.uk 1 Hylton CW 3.

Cresswell dismissed in disgrace.

Cresswell sent off in disgrace.

Am I disappointed? Probably, but just a bit. We were playing, in my opinion, the Division favourites, Hylton CW. The decent side from last season had now been bolstered with a few ex-Premier players. After our 8-0 opening League game, we were left short in this one (which was in the County Cup). Dave Graham, Gavin Stoker, Wayne Greenwell and Steve Stubbs were all missing. We only had me on the sidelines, and when Emu’s arse dropped and he got injured just before the end of the half, I was forced to play the whole second half. Lewis was back, but was being a bit of an arse like he was a year back before he buggered off. Watching him today makes me think that it’s about time he buggers off again.

Sangha and Snowball battle against each other on the right hand side.

Ironically, we didn’t do too badly when you look at it in context. Pearson had opened the scoring with a superbly chipped goal from a Gourlay pass. We were playing 4-5-1 to compensate for the loss of Stoker and Graham in a game which had been cancelled a good few times (including last week) due to the weather. It nearly went tits up again, with the referee not showing. Luckily, the referee’s assessor was there and he filled in despite the jam jar glasses he was wearing, which began to steam up from time to time. The 4-5-1 system was working to plan reasonably well. Hylton CW didn’t really get a decent chance in the opening, while we were being spearheaded by Swinhoe as Pearson and Cressy pushed on with him. Hylton had the majority of the possession, but were being hounded around the ball in the danger areas. We then had a few good breaks, but the final ball was always poor. I missed a bit of the game as well because Emu decided to boot our ball over the fence and into oblivion – so I had to get another one from the car. The team talk beforehand was to avoid stupid free-kicks and corner kicks in dangerous areas. We gave one away and were duly punished. Criminally, from the kick off, we started to piss (or pass) around with the ball at the back. Macca lost it and their attack led to another goal. At 2-1 down, it was going to be difficult and we needed to be on the attack.

Lewis, Snowball, Pearson and Sumner

Second half, we switched to 4-4-2 and a “go for broke” attitude. We were doing not too bad, but then a speculative cross from Darren Snowball (when being pressured by me) caught Simma cold and it was 3-1. The scoring ended there, but by now, Cresswell had been dismissed after a tangle with Lee Ellison. Sassco, down to ten men, played out the rest of the game. By the end, both Swinhoe and Pearson were both struggling, so we were glad of the final whistle.

I’m not too worried considering it was in the County Cup. Not a competition I’m a great fan of and wouldn’t bother entering if I had a choice. The hassle in travelling etc. never helps and in three seasons, we’ve never done well in it. Apart from the two poor goals conceded, I didn’t really have much to complain about over the team. We were up against a Premier League class team and we did well with some key lads missing. The injuries didn’t help for us, but that’s local football for you. Hopefully Stoker, Greenwell and Graham will all be back for that game as I wouldn’t mind putting out the side that defeated Park View against Sporting Redhouse.

Thanks to Hylton CW for hosting the game. The pitch cut up in areas, but was considerably better than ours would be. Also, thanks to the referee for standing in and doing a great job. I had to laugh when Cressy got sent off, but then realised he was on our side. Also, Dazzy Snowball had a bit of a torrid time against me. Gutted he got the goal, but it was just a desperate fling into the box as I pushed him out wide. I got away with it as everyone blamed Simma for it. Roll on next week.

Billy Hardy Centre
Durham County Minor Cup
Sassco.co.uk 1 Michael Pearson
Hylton CW 3

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Tim Gillespie, Chris Dixon, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers (Davinder Sangha), Marc McDermont, Stephen Lewis, Dave Gourlay*, Mickey Pearson, Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell (red card).

16th September 2008

Latest News.

New second shirt by Kappa!

No you aren’t seeing things. This is our second shirt, which isn’t made by Adidas, but Kappa.

Since we started, way back in 1999, it’s always been Adidas. Kappa was a brand I was thinking of using back then, but Adidas won over due to price and availability.

However, since we’ve sold all our old shirts, including the long sleeve MJS shirts, it’s means we need a new second shirt. We do have the short sleeve, white Adidas ones, but those are to be reprinted and given to the Malta squad to keep after our tour.

This one’s similar to the Lycra stretch ones for Italy and Tottenham a few years back, so Emu needs a crash diet otherwise he’s going to look like an arse. These were purchased directly from Kappa. The deal was very good and also included blue shorts, so we don’t have to fund any matching shorts. Obviously we already have blue socks.

This shirt doesn’t have a sponsor logo on, but if iKobo sponsor us again next season, we’ll get the iKobo logo put on and use it as the first shirt in the 2009-2010 season.

Postponed County Cup fixtures against Hylton CW.

Like everyone, I’m frustrated by our cancellations against Hylton CW in the County Cup. The last one was galling to say the least. A good few of the lads have to travel a fair distance to get to the games. So to see the referee, appointed from Peterlee! cancel it five minutes before, and then not inform us when we were on the pitch is poor. The forthcoming game is to take place this weekend again, but from what I hear, it’s a pitch inspection the day before.

I’m seriously considering booking Gateshead or Northumbria for the second half of the season.

30th August 2008

Park View FC 0 Sassco.co.uk 8.

First opening day win since 2002.

Cresswell and Greenwell

An outstanding result considering the little known fact that we’ve never won on the opening day of a season since our debut (in another League) back in 2002. Games being postponed the week before meant that the difficult fixture at home to Hylton CW was replaced with the more manageable one against Park View. The squad was also full, but Lewis didn’t show and Nelly hadn’t paid his fine. Stubba came along and was drafted in as the second sub behind Dixon (who announced he was injured in the warm up). No matter as we were building momentum throughout the opening half. We were actually coming off the back of a poor A v B game, but this worked in our favour as the team was constantly switched on and didn’t want a repeat of a heavy defeat. An opening goal was hooked in by Cresswell as he formed a 4-4-2 partnership with Swinhoe. Mickey Pearson then went on a mazy run past several players to make it 2-0. We had so many chances. Cressy beat the ‘keeper, but his tight angle shot was covered by the same ‘keeper coming back to cover. Then Swinhoe who, incidentally, had an outstanding game throughout, fired his wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.

Cresswell and Pearson

Second half would have been a bit worrying as we’ve let leads slip in the past. But Pearson calmed the nerves, as he struck in a rebounded Dave Gourlay shot to make it 3-0. We then relaxed and started passing it at lot more. First half saw me wanting it more direct and also seeing our defence keeping a high line. But I told them, especially Emu, to move further back and defend deeper. It seemed to work as in the second half, Park View barely had any openings from a long ball. Cresswell then made it four as he combined with Swinhoe and Gourlay. A shot from Gourlay was then deflected in for the fifth, before Dave Graham drove the sixth. Cresswell was awarded his hat-trick to make it 7-0. And finally, Dixon, coming on as a last ten minute sub for Swinhoe, scored from a deft chip over the ‘keeper. This was after his bullet header was clawed out moments earlier.

Cresswell, Swinhoe and Bri Watson

A superb game all around. Simpson was outstanding in goal as he seemed to come out quick as well as grab every awkward high ball against a large Park View team. Stoker and Emu were un passable at the back. Stoker won everything. Macca, fresh from his hissy fit slotted in where he belongs at left back and even had some “White Pele” moments as he bombed forward late on. Tim was more than comfortable at right back before being replaced late in the game by the greasy Stubba (horrible c**t). The midfield was (from left to right) Greenwell, Gourlay, Graham and Pearson. A strong quartet who couldn’t be matched by Park View, apart from occasions when the ball was in the air. Swinhoe and Cressy combined well in attack.

To be honest, second half was an exhibition game. Most now realised that Dave Graham’s wife was watching, so they turned on the style. Maccas still looked like an arse though. A great moment late in the game was when Dave Graham jumped an opponent who slid in and was covered head to toe in the mud from one of the various puddles on the far side of the pitch. Dave still got the ball.

A great start to the League, especially considering we watched Bri Watson tumbling down the hill into a mud puddle before kick off. Things are never positive when you see your Team Secretary covered in more mud than the players themselves. Simma’s car’s going to be a mess.

Silksworth Sports Complex
League Division 1
Park View FC 0
Sassco.co.uk 8
Mark Cresswell (3), Michael Pearson (2), Dave Graham, Park View o. g. Chris Dixon
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Tim Gillespie (Steve Stubbs), Gareth Stoker, Mark Muers, Marc McDermont, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Gourlay, Mickey Pearson, Dave Graham, Andy Swinhoe (Chris Dixon), Mark Cresswell*.

27th August 2008

Pre-season report.

Won 3 Lost 5.

A much more levelled out Pre-season in comparison to our chaotic one last season, where the team which started Pre-season barely resembled the one which started the competitive League games. It started well, but ended with a set of demoralising results – especially the last Pre-season game.

This year, I planned an extensive set of games, mainly because I prefer Summer football and try and take advantage of the good weather. Our set of games started almost immediately after the League finished (we finished in 5th place). Washington Colliery were the first victims. We were playing at the superb Washington venue and the only new additions were Lewis, who left acrimoniously to warm the Redhouse FC bench last season, and Nelly, who came in for his first “official” game. In a marvelous performance, we dominated after an opening five minutes where we were 1-0 down and barely touched the ball. An immediate response saw outstanding goals from Muers and Swinhoe to see Sassco run out 5-3 winners. We also won the pub quiz after the game.

Three days later, we played the Champions, Redhouse FC. Despite a brilliant, stubborn performance, missed chances eventually cost us as two goals were conceded in the last five minutes in a 2-0 defeat. Lee Cresswell also came into this game.

Then it was the break. We recommenced at the end of June with a new kit, but same old team and proceeded to blitz the deaf team by a 10-2 scoreline. The game was played amidst the pouring rain in the second half at Gateshead Stadium.

Our next game saw a deselected squad somehow win 3-2 against Forest Hall U18 at Northumbria University. Lewis scored from a Nelly cross in the last five minutes. Gareth Stoker came in for his debut in this game.

After this, it was three straight defeats, but against three strong opponents. Greenwell and Stubbs surprisingly returned for the game against Sunderland South in a 4-2 defeat where two great opportunities were spurned to make a comeback. We then went to Shildon with our strongest ever team and suffered our biggest ever defeat. Shildon were outstanding and we just couldn’t cope. Finally, it was at Beggarswood, where we played Rutherford AFC’s strongest side. A brilliant first half was settled with a goal from Rutherford at the start of the second.

Paul “Tyson” Stokoe came in for the latter games, but despite saying publicly he’d sign, he failed to do so. Tony Burnhope was also adamant that he was going to sign (I’ve still got the text), but elected to remain with Seaham, before joining Hall Farm in the top division.

So the additions were old additions. Nelly, Greenwell and Lewis. The plus point is that no one really left. Davey Graham and Dixon both remain despite the travel distances. Jamie was missing for too many games, but convinced me it was just down to bad luck. Big Cressy buggered off and is likely to be bench warming for Hylton CW (who we play in our opener). Gareth Stoker came in and added some much needed steel and intimidation at the back. Nelly eventually fell by the wayside as he needed to pay the WCFL £20 for his fine (Macca, Cressy and Stoker did the same a season ago).

The last game was a A v B game with the majority of the Sassco regulars playing against a hastily put together team of ex-players, Non-regular players and Sassco League players. As I was in command of a hastily put together B team, I didn’t expect much and the game was mainly to give the A’s a good send off before the first League game. However, it backfired. My overly defensive 4-5-1, combined with superb performances from the B’s saw the A’s routed 5-1. Here we go again.

16th August 2008

Sassco.co.uk 1 Sassco XI 5.

Don’t know if it was good or bad for me.

Tim Gillespie and Andy Reay

Considering that Sassco 11-a-side have had an average of 0.5 substitutes during the course of the season, meant that my wonderful bright idea of having a Sassco v Sassco game was going to be a bit over optimistic. The so called B team was a Sassco XI made up of mainly ex-players, Sassco League players and Non-regulars. Not many ex’s were there, but more Non-regulars.

By Friday, I was thinking of calling it off. Dave Graham was missing because he had to collect some weapons from down South (probably to sell on the black market in Georgia). Dave Smith (our Malta goalkeeper) was not 100%. Dixon apparently fell over his golf clubs and injured himself. Gourlay was a doubt due to man-flu, but got himself together to make an appearance. However, this meant some of the players to be playing on the B team were shifted over to the A team. Luckily, Tim Gillespie managed to get Mark Edmundson in; Greenwell got Stubba in and everyone else turned up. I had Bunta and Keith Mouat pencilled in, but as expected, they didn’t turn up. In the end Dave Smith (now not the ex-Park View ‘keeper) came in for his Malta warm up (albeit ten minutes into kick off).

Bri Watson looked after the A team while I cobbled together the B’s. In came Hendon Rovers’ Wayne Ramsay, as well as returns for Ed, both Pearsons and Jamie. We had Simma outfield in defence. Paul McConville was in midfield with big Pea, while Stubba was the holding player.

Macca received a torrent of abuse in the first half as he was on my side of the pitch and despite doing me in once or twice, he didn’t do much after that. He had a goal disallowed for offside by referee John Keenleyside, who did an excellent job and our thanks go out to him for helping out. We were playing 4-5-1 and a break from one of their attacking moves saw them caught cold with Gareth Stoker and Mark Muers flat footed. Wayne Ramsay fired in the curling shot past Gav Kershaw. Pearson had put one of his bank breaking bets on with Gav Kershaw claiming he’d score, and for the second, he nearly did. It came off the crossbar and Stubba scrambled it in.

2-0 down at half time and the B team were comfortable. Then Macca, with all the abuse, refused to go back into defence and took a hissy fit. The A’s were down to ten for the first few moments. Macca then saw sense and kitted up to get back on. Personally I was delighted. I spent all week shitting myself expecting a combination of Greenwell, Cressy, Gourlay and Lewis to have me on my arse, but was left with Macca. If you gave me a list of 100 players, including blind ones and one legged ones, I’d still probably chose Macca to play against.

Second half, they did get one back. Simma dallying on the ball lost it and they fired one in. Gareth Stoker started the move and bludgeoned everyone out of his way to finish it off. Simma nearly picked it up, but remembered he was outfield. That was their only goal of the game. Dave Smith was outstanding in goal, so it bodes well for Malta and also if Simma ever falls off a cliff with his Sat Nav, then Dave will be the man.

Tim Gillespie and Andy Reay

At 2-1, we were under pressure. Gaps were being left, but Stubba took advantage and fired in a superb long range effort beyond Gav Kershaw to make it 3-1 to the B team. After this, Mark Edmundson scored and Pearson (A not M) scored off a rebound when Gav Kershaw parried the ball out.

It was interesting to watch Sassco from the other side. Lots of whinging. Players demanding to play in positions which they clearly can’t handle (Macca) and heads down. Not good, but good for the B side. Everyone played astonishingly well. Paul Mc and Pearson in the middle. Anth Pea on the wings with the ever excellent Ed on the left hand side. Then Jamie and Simma at centre half. Both were outstanding. It’s good to know we’ve got capable players available if needs be, but I can’t see the A team doing any better than we did last season. Dave Graham was missing, but he was on and off last season, so this will be the same. Nelly was missed for this one, but even with the absentees, the A team should have done much better.

Community North Sports Complex
Pre-season friendly
Sassco.co.uk 1 Gareth Stoker
Sassco XI 5
Wayne Ramsay, Steve Stubbs (2), Anthony Pearson, Mark Edmundson
Sassco.co.uk: Gavin Kershaw, Tim Gillespie, Gareth Stoker, Mark Muers, Marc McDermont, Wayne Greenwell, Andy Swinhoe, Mark Cresswell, Dave Gourlay, Mark Middlemiss, Stephen Lewis.

26th July 2008

Rutherford AFC XI 1 Sassco.co.uk 0.

Defensive performance nearly gets a result.

Tim Gillespie and Andy Reay

The trip to “Beggarswood” was quite easy considering the navigational skills of the Sassco squad. The road leading to it is the narrow road which parallels the A1 next to Team Valley. The pitch was an enclosed one, but most said it was hard to play on. Had some shocking drop outs as well. Genuinely pissed me off. The persons dropping out probably think they’re the only ones, but when two or three do it, we get shafted. The drop outs today were the reason we lost, because the second half also saw one enforced change, where three changes and fresh legs would have helped. Swinhoe and Stubba were out with no excuse. They’ve done it a couple of times now and can be classed a reasonably unreliable. Also, Si Mulvaney was going to be late back form Catterick. Had I known about all three the night before, I could have easily sorted something. But it was too late and only myself and Nelly would be on the bench (along with Bri Watson).

Nevertheless, a surprisingly decent performance from Sassco. After two defeats on the trot, albeit to strong teams, I decided to go back to 4-5-1 – a very defensive 4-5-1, with Marky Mark filling the holding role. We had Tyson back in as the sole centre forward, and on a searing hot day, he had his work cut out for him. I will be requesting Tyson to sign for us permanently from Cambridge. I believe he’s signed a Retainer, but now it’s down to him and the Cambridge. He made it publicly known before and after the game that he wants to sign. As for the rest of the line up, Gourlay and Greenwell were in centre midfield, while Lewis was on the right and Greenwell on the left. Stoker was back at centre half with Muers missing, so Dixon slotted back in there. Si Mulvaney failed to show (with reason) so Tim was placed at right back. Opposing him was Andy Reay. I struck the fear of God into Tim and he stood well off Reay, but challenged him in the danger areas and did exceptionally well.

Rutherford were a combined team with players from Northern Alliance, ex-Northern League and ex-professionals with other players from our levels. But in the first half it was very balanced. They played it at the back, but the instant it came across the half way line, we hounded them and won the bal back constantly. Some scares in the first half saw one of their players, completely unmarked, direct the ball over the crossbar from a corner. At the other end, Tyson was outstanding in closing down the four back line players and had several good chances.

It was the second half where we were chasing the game. We conceded from an irritating breakaway and then attempted to get back into it. Tyson nearly did minutes later when one on one. The keeper made a save. We were also astounded by some refereeing decisions as well. The main one being one of our lads being hacked down, but playing the ball to Stoker who lashed it in. The referee called back play and all we had was a free kick. Tyson the saw the keeper out of his area handle, but all he got was a caution. Fair enough, it was a friendly, but rules are rules. Right at the death, Lewis turned and passed to Stoker who scored again, but Lewis was penalised. Nelly also lashed in a tight angle shot which the ‘keeper clawed out.

At the other end, Simpson was in marvelous form. He kept the score at 1-0 and kept us in the game with a number of brilliant saves. Dixon was also very strong at centre half alongside Stoker.

We can console ourselves that teams in our division aren’t going to be as strong as the likes of Sunderland South, Shildon AFC (obviously) and also Rutherford. And with only one friendly remaining on the horizon, we can be proud of our pre-season performances and look ahead to making yet another laid-back challenge on the Title.

Beggarswood Pitch
Pre-season friendly
Rutherford XI 1
Sassco.co.uk 0

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson*, Tim Gillespie, Gareth Stoker, Chris Dixon*, Marc McDermont, Paul “Tyson” Stokoe, Wayne Greenwell, Dave Graham (Neil Richardson), Dave Gourlay, Mark Middlemiss, Stephen Lewis.

17th July 2008

Shildon AFC 13 Sassco.co.uk 0.

Our yearly kicking just got worse.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

I was boasting that for the three games we’ve had against Shildon since 2005, that this was the strongest team I’ve put out. I also overlooked the fact that Shildon were vastly superior and had reached a Cup Final, as well as having a winning streak at the end of the season. So, they were much better.

13-0 (and that’s 13 to Shildon – not us). There you go. The score is straight at you. Mind you, I’ve told all the team to tell everyone it was 9-0 and that Macca had a blinder. I was tempted to lie, but what the hell.

Ironically, we started quite brilliant. Camped in their quarter, we created several chances, but put none away. A breakaway at the back saw Shildon inevitably go 1-0 up then within a matter of minutes it was 3-0. They were two howlers from Emu. Greenwell was partnering him at centre half because Jamie didn’t show again. Jamie calling me at 6:01pm and texting for directions isn’t ideal preparation, when I clearly told everyone that we had to leave at 6:00pm. I couldn’t get hold of Greenwell neither, but he called and I gave him vague directions which would have probably sent him off to the North Sea. Actually he got there before us.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

Worst of all was Lewis going AWOL. I subsequently discovered he was, apparently, on holiday. Poor decision not to keep me informed though. Same goes for Jamie unfortunately. He’s avery good player, but an excuse on Saturday then faffing around today, means I can’t really wait any longer. Again, he can still sign on (but I need the waterproof back), but Gareth Stoker and other options are there for the back. Mind you, I was close to tearing out of Dean Street back up the A1 after Emu’s two clangers to attempt to pick him up.

As mentioned, Greenwell was there and the only others with previous Shildon experience were Gourlay, Simma and Dixon. Tiger Tim was there. Turned up last, got changed, then buggered off after half time once we went 8-0 down. Most of the others were shell shocked during the mauling. If they can’t learn from the experience, then it’s a doomed exercise. Greenwell did his “I’m Johan Cruyff on the pitch” routine by persuading Dixon to go to centre half, then pushing himself in centre midfield and telling Dave Graham to go out wide. I only realised once Dave Graham asked to come off playing in an uncomfortable right hand side position. He was shuffled back to the centre, and left Greenwell in another position. Not good. Stick to positions, despite it going pear shaped. Added bonus was that Greenwell has just paid a deposit and is now coming to Malta with us, which is superb news.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

The whole team starting arguing near the end of the first, but at half time, I tried to calm everyone down and explained that we need to focus on the level of opponents we’re playing and not to worry about a high score conceded. Gourlay summed it up perfectly, “I ran my heart out, tried my utmost, but got bugger all out of it.” It was the same for all.

We had Paul “Tyson” Stokoe guesting for us in the second half. Macca wanted to come off himself – complaining that everyone was shouting at him. I agreed and told him I started it. Nelly, back from his two match lay off, dropped deeper and despite facing a completely different eleven Shildon players in the second half, we seemed to pressure a bit more. Bad mistakes tended to lead to the goals. Simma was outstanding. Paul McConville was wondering why he’s become the “Anth Pearson” of the team and forced to play against the stronger teams. Si Mulvaney was getting redder by the minute.

I’d say our Man of the Match was Dixon. He slotted in at centre half when Greenwell couldn’t handle it and did as best as he could do all game.

Can’t remember if Little Cress was playing. Will have to check my photos.

Dean Street Stadium
Pre-season friendly
Shildon AFC 13
Sassco.co.uk 0

Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers, Chris Dixon*, Paul McConville, Marc McDermont (Paul “Tyson” Stokoe), Wayne Greenwell, Dave Graham, Dave Gourlay, Mark Cresswell, Neil Richardson.

12th July 2008

Sunderland South FC 4 Sassco.co.uk 2.

Ancient heroes(?) return to Sassco.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

Our most difficult Pre-season game since the Redhouse FC tie. Sunderland South FC were the new version of the old Board Inn team which made a decent attempt on the Title in the WCFL. The team were packed to the hilt with superstars and even “Yes Trigger” couldn’t lower the tone, as he prostituted himself to yet another team.

We were lacking Nelly. Tim failed to show (but he gave me notice) and Jamie and Pearson didn’t turn up – no reason given. Also, some veteran players came back from the cold. I spoke to both Stubba and Greenwell earlier in the week about coming along. Both said “yes”, but I really didn’t expect them to be there. To my shock, they both turned up. Stubba was straight as left wing, while Greenwell arrived on time, but didn’t realise that you have to put shin pads, football boots and a kit to actually play a game. A little later. Dave Graham, back from his hols and slightly bronzed, was airlifted from a mountain and turned up about ten minutes into the game.

The venue was the anemic looking Astroturf at Sandhill View. We had a few games there last season. The venue is local and convenient and the price is cheap, so I wasn’t really complaining.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

Sunderland South had a very strong and large line up. Originally we were going to sneak off and let them play each other when we only had around six in the car park. The illustrious names were Hembrough (ex-Sassco), Stevie Ando (wants to play for Sassco, but I keep turning him down), Minnie (ex-Sassco), Davey Taylor, Gav Rackstraw (ex-Sassco), Kirk Hardy and company. All who were on for the first half. Surprisingly, we did actually match them for the majority of the opening, despite having to use the ladies changing room (I had to stop Emu from sniffing the shower walls). I was disappointed in the lack of closing down, especially up front as we seemed to tackle when it was too late. However, we opened the scoring. Stubba poked the ball into the back of the net. They got a penalty back when Gareth Stoker swung a leg. As the first half was coming to a close, they got one at the death. We went in at half time 2-1 down.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

The half time talk was to keep the same, but offer a little more pressure on the opponents. But in the opening minutes, it all collapsed. We immediately let one in. At 3-1 it was going to be difficult against any team, but soon after is was 4-1. This is when we woke up, as Sunderland South took their foot off the pedal. Lewis scored a header from a Dave Gourlay free-kick, and then we had a critical few minutes when we played some good football, as well as pressured the opponents. Cresswell shot agonisingly wide when one-on-one with the goalkeeper to beat. Moments later, we had an in-direct free-kick in the box, which Gareth Stoker slammed against an wincing opponent. For the second half, Sunderland South featured Gav Wilson and Lee Cuddihy (who scored). We also had Greenwell on for us. This was his first game for us since the 2005-2006 Season and, along with Emu and Gourlay, had the rare distinction of being one of the original’s from our first game, way back in 2002.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.That was it. We didn’t take our chances when we had the opportunities and most of our free-kicks were truly diabolical. Biggest issue was the closing down. In the last few games, we’d been doing it reasonably well, but for this one, it was almost nonexistent. I was (and still am) disappointed, but need to tone down my expectations as we are playing teams theoretically and practically, much stronger than us.

As for the line up – Dave Graham, back from his hols, looked a bit lost until late in the game. Greenwell in his first game back for a while took a while to get in the swing of things. Stoker and Muers were good at the back, but were outnumbered on occasions. Macca did well, but his touch was shocking. I’ve decided that the next time there’s going to be a Earth extinction asteroid coming at us, I’m going to tell NASA to put Macca at the place it’s going to crash as it’s bound to bounce off his shins. Simma pulled off some good saves. Man of the match would probably have to go to Gareth Stoker, as he won everything at the back. Swinhoe was ineffective up front and needs a wonder goal (a’la Washington Colliery) to get him back to scoring ways.

We’ve got the big one away to Northern League Shildon AFC on Thursday evening, so any similarities to our work off the ball today, will lead to another hammering off them.

As far as my view on Sunderland South. They were a good side out today, quite similar to when we played against Redhouse FC, so Steve Patta’s team should cope well in the Durham Alliance. Mind you, Gav Wilson had a mare.

I also had Danny Defty doing my head in asking to get on the pitch. I told him that we didn’t want any more embarrassment for the day, and that he can do that for the Cauld Lad (like he did three times last season).

Too tired to write anything else. The kit bag’s quite heavy you know.

Sandhill Centre
Pre-season friendly
Sunderland South FC 4
Sassco.co.uk 2
Steve Stubbs, Stephen Lewis
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers, Gareth Stoker*, Marc McDermont, Ed Morrison (Wayne Greenwell), Stephen Lewis, Dave Gourlay, Steve Stubbs, Andy Swinhoe (Dave Graham), Mark Cresswell.

8th July 2008

Latest news.

Cup draw and friendlies, etc.

Cup draws.
In the Wearmouth Aged Miners Cup, we’ve been drawn at home against Division 1 Champions, Fulwell Blue Bell, who are now a Premier Division outfit. In the Alan Hood Cup, we’ve been drawn away to Colonel Prior, who were known as Vane Arms last season. Again, another Premier Division team. For the League Challenge Cup, we’ve been given a bye.

So, no place to hide as we are playing two exceptionally strong sides in the opening rounds of the Cups.

More Pre-season games.
The next one is against a powerful Sunderland South team who, as the Board Inn, spent a few seasons in the WCFL. They are now in the Durham Alliance and have strengthened the team for their debut season.

12/07/08 Sunderland South at Sandhill’s Astroturf. Kick off is 2:00pm.

The remaining schedule is as follows:

17/07/08 Shildon AFC (Thursday 7:30pm at Dean Street)
26/07/08 Gateshead Rutherford AFC (Saturday 2:15pm at Gateshead Coach Road)
03/08/08 Demi (Sunday time and venue TBC – most likely Sandhill at around 12:00pm).
09/08/08 34 Signals Regiment (To be confirmed with Dave Graham, the Manager of 34 Sig).
16/08/08 Sassco Impact (To be confirmed with Dan Carson, the Manager of Impact).

That should be it for the Pre-season schedule. Plenty of games against diverse opponents in nice weather.

Malta 2008.
The tour has been confirmed. Luckily, the squad actually contains a majority of current Sassco players. The only new additions are Dave King, as goalkeeper, and Scott Hembrough, who spent a season with Sassco back in 2005.

01 Davinder Sangha
02 Mark Cresswell
03 Paul McConville
04 Marc McDermont
05 Dave Gourlay
06 Tim Gillespie
07 Mark Middlemiss
08 Chris Dixon
09 Mark Muers
10 Dave Smith
11 Scott Hembrough

21st June 2008

Sassco.co.uk 3 Forest Hall FC 2.

Late Lewis header gives Sassco an unlikely win.

Ed Morrison, Muers and Nelly at half time.

The venue was perfect. Another Third Generation pitch located at the University in our fourth pre-season game. This time against Forest Hall FC. Thanks to Dave Smith of Forest Hall for arranging everything. We got there in enough time (through the Tyne Tunnel), but there was a panic when Si Mulvaney was late in getting Paul McConville. An already depleted side looked as if we’d only have ten men, but Si came up trumps and we were all ready with plenty of time to spare. We even had a mini-penalty competition. Emu didn’t score a single one.

Mark Muers in his struggled and Swinhoe fails to hide the cheese with his Leading Goalscorer trophy before the game.

A very difficult game. As with quite a lot of our previous pre-season games, the opponents were an unknown quantity. All I really knew about Forest Hall was that it was a young side ranging in the 17, 18 year bracket. I was quite confident despite a depleted side, but it was only a few moments into the game when I discovered that they were the League Champions in their age group this past season. It wasn’t surprising really. They got the ball down well and commanded the majority of the game. I know for a fact that they’ll be asking themselves how they lost the game. The pattern of the game was Sassco, vastly depleted, defending heavily and getting them on the break.

Our back line saw only Si Mulvaney remaining from the 10-2 mauling of Newcastle DFC (as well as Simma). Even the midfield was different. Swinhoe, despite cheesely accepting his Leading Goalscorer Award prior to the game, was farmed out on to the left (reluctantly as always). But, it’d be a bit silly of me to change the forward line of Nelly and Cresswell. Behind Swinhoe was Paul McConville, playing on the left, but more comfortable on the right.

Swinhoe and McConville.

After some extensive pressure from Forest Hall, including some scary goalmouth incidents dealt with by Simma and the rest of the back line, we got a breakaway which led to a a corner kick. After a few moments seeing the ball ping-ponging in and around the box, it eventually landed to Nelly who smashed it home from just beyond the penalty spot. It was obviously a goal against the run of play. Fortunate really, because up until then, our back line was quite immobile and the only thing in our favour was the intimidation value as all our defenders looked rough. Shaven headed Muers and Si, with Gareth Stoker making his debut. Only Paul McConville looked gentler with his George Michael look and the opponents obviously gave him a hard time.

The goal spurred us on as we had our best moments in the game. Eventually Cresswell took the ball, turned their defence inside out and guided an unstoppable left foot shot to make it 2-0. We should have probably added a third, but the half ended shortly afterwards. Just prior to the half time whistle, we didn’t really have any more major chances and struggled to string some passes together. At the back, we were causing our own problems. I’ve told players to clear their lines if they can’t pass it and we seemed to be waiting for the high ball to bounce before dealing with it.

Gareth Stoker, in his debut, fires a header over the bar.

Second half saw more pressure from Forest Hall. This led to Muers, who was suffering from the three “D’s” (dysentery, dehydration and diarrhea), decided to stroke a handsome young opponents back and the referee gave the penalty. 2-1 and they were back in it. I saw the decision and, to be honest, it was probably valid. I was struggling to find one our our delightful, new iKobo branded balls which Emu had dispatched into Blair Witch Forest behind the goal. But when I popped over the hill (with the ball), I saw Emu clearly have his hand on the back of their striker. It was a struggle from then on. Sassco started to complain at every decision and attempted to bring a bit more intimidation into the game. We tried to create chances as the game opened up, but Muers, now clearly dying on his feet came off after a deflected goal saw Forest Hall equalise. I was on just after the game was balance in their favour at 2-2.

Me as right back and Si Mulvaney as centre half then – inevitable defeat? Not likely. We sorted it out and with five minutes remaining, a superb cross from Nelly saw Lewis (the Captain with Emu being off) heroically head in a perfect goal. Was even better just after as Ed Morrison fired in a shot which rebounded out from the post.

The referee blew the whistle (thank God) and we somehow came away with another win.

To sum up. It was very difficult. Tim, Paul and Swinhoe seemed to struggle. Paul was still drunk off the night before. I must have texted him to see if he was available as he was downing his seventh pint. Emu was practically death on legs, while bonus performances from Nelly, Lewis and Cressy plus Gareth Stoker. Ed also did very well on the wing again, and Simma was a legend as always. Difficult decision for our Man-of-the-match. Simma, Gareth and Lewis all had good shouts, but it’d have to go to Nelly who scored one and set up the winner.

So, in theory, Emu still hasn’t won a game as Captain as he came off when we were 2-2.

Northumbria University
Pre-season friendly
Sassco.co.uk 3 Mark Cresswell, Stephen Lewis, Neil Richardson
Forest Hall FC 2
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Muers (Davinder Sangha), Gareth Stoker, Paul McConville, Tim Gillespie, Mark Cresswell, Neil Richardson*, Ed Morrison, Stephen Lewis, Andy Swinhoe

25th June 2008

Latest news.

New ball, polo shirts, friendlies, etc.

New iKobo ball.
The new iKobo branded Sassco ball to be used in the home games as well as various pre-season games. It’s made of the highest possible standards and is FIFA Approved.

Polo shirts.
I’m getting a batch of dark red polo shirts for the team. The only size is M (40″/42″), so you’ll have to squeeze into them (or lose some weight). I definitely need a £2 payment for the polo’s from everyone (regardless if they want one or not).

Friendly v Forest Hall FC.
The game isn’t 100% confirmed, but will be by Thursday evening.

21st June 2008

Sassco.co.uk 10 Newcastle DFC 2.

The heavens open as Sassco score seven in the second half.

Back row sees Brian Watson, David Graham, Stephen Lewis, Neil Richardson, Lee Cresswell, David Simpson, Simon Mulvaney and Davinder Sangha. The front row shows Ed Morrison, Tim Gillespie, Dave Gourlay, Mark Cresswell, Marc McDermont and Chris Dixon.

Technically, this was our third pre-season game, but with the mini-break, it seemed as if it was a new start as we looked to re-charge our batteries for the 2008-2009 Season. I normally start pre-season early due to the good weather, but the heavens opened up today and everyone was truly soaked. It was very miserable and the only thing that cheered us up was the excellent scoreline.

Everything was new. The new shirts, the new socks, but same old players. The new additions, Lewis, big Cressy and Nelly had already played a few times for us. The opponents were Whitley Bay Deaf, now known as Newcastle DFC. They had Andy Reay, Andy Farrer and Gav Brown on show. As the three players had played for Sassco for a large part of the season, we knew we were in for a difficult time. They’d also won the National Deaf Cup, playing against teams from all corners of England. Any team winning a National Cup is a good team.

Venue was the over the top, very expensive artificial turf at Gateshead. Expensive, but generally worth it due to the surface. It was a bit awkward getting on the pitch. A crane had blocked the car park where I had to lug most of the kit half way around the stadium to get to the pitch. I forgot the water – left it lying outside of the car, but Dave Gourlay picked it up about fifteen minutes later. It tasted a bit salty so I reckon some local toe rag has pissed in it. I also told everyone it was 12:15pm kick off when it was really 12:30pm. That obviously went down well when everyone found out. At least we were there on time though.

We started reasonably well. It was back to 4-4-2. The game was tight in areas and the pitch looked quite busy with not much space for any player on the ball. Nelly, despite being up front, tended to push out wide and managed to gain quite some space to put in a some brilliant crosses throughout the game. The first ball which went in saw nobody on the end of it. The second was perfect and Mark Cresswell nodded it in cleanly. We gave one away straightaway (typical). No idea what really happened. We had the ball in our own corner and the next thing I saw was that they’d scored.

Their long through ball was causing quite a few problems for us. Especially as we had two stand in centre halves in Dixon and Lewis. Both Emu and Jamie were missing. Swinhoe also was absent and, unfortunately, Tony Burnhope wasn’t available neither. With no answers to calls, I assume he was away on holiday like Emu (but probably not with Emu). Only time will tell.

So at 1-1, we got back into it very quickly. Another cross from Nelly saw Ed Morrison bundle the ball in the back of the net. Near the end of the half, a goal mouth scramble saw Dave Graham drive the ball home through a ruck of players.

3-1 at half time. Dave Gourlay had to leave (to go to his own wedding) so I placed Lewis in centre midfield and Tim came on as centre half. We were 4-1 up against the same team last season and let it slip to 4-4 in the second half. This time we didn’t let anything slip. Lewis scored within minutes of the restart, but for me, the second half was a bit of a blur as the rain was lashing it down now and I spent the majority of the game retrieving balls from around the area.

We won 10-2. Lewis scored two including a 20 yarder in off the crossbar. “Stunnin volly from 20 yards in off the bar!” – his words. He should have scored more. Some were glaring misses, and he did sky a few as well (hence me wandering around picking his stray balls up). Nelly helped himself to two goals after working tremendously hard and being productive throughout the game. He didn’t even moan neither which was an award in itself. Also, he was giving Ed Morrison a pep talk at half time. Seemed to work as Ed scored three in the second half for a total of four goals. Staggering considering I was going to have him as sub first half and then as a left back! Superb performance, and a worthy Man-of-the-Match award. Nelly would have come close, but Ed’s hat-trick sees him deserve the award. One of his goals was from a startling McDermont strike which cracked the post. Startling as it was reasonably on target. The rebound came out to him as well and his floated the ball in to the far post for Ed to head it home. It was a good few minutes for Macca as he had some close chances.

So a thrilling performance. The team did perform to their best abilities. The back line was respectable, with Tim, Digga and Lewis combining with Macca and Si. Lee Cresswell was holding up well in midfield. I’m sure him and Lewis switched, but I can’t remember as I was trudging around in the bush looking for balls. Up front, Nelly and Mark Cresswell did very well. Cressy should have scored more, but elected to pass instead (unlike him).

No negative points really. If Emu and Jamie were there, we’d have been exceptionally solid. Newcastle DFC did well when they had the ball. Some of their passing was excellent and it was particularly hard getting Reay and Brown off the ball. Andy Farrer was a man possessed at the back. Desperate to get one over Sassco. However, it was a different Sassco, a more competent one with a good, decent squad out there. From the last time we played here, only five of us (me, Dixon, Muers, Gourlay and Simpson) remain in this current squad. I can’t see any mass exodus this season, as last pre-season was a bit chaotic.

Thanks to Craig Black for officiating at a low cost. The pitch hire for Gateshead is way too excessive so both teams paid half and with Craig reducing his cost, made it comfortable for everyone. It was his first game officiating with a deaf team, so it was bit of an experience for him.

The kit looked good as well. We rotate whenever we have a sponsor between white blue and red. It was white for the first season in the WCFL, then red, then white again and now blue. The new kit had the iKobo sponsor logo on as well. Unfortunately, the footballs didn’t arrive in time, They’re the standard black and white patched ones, but with the iKobo logo on.

Gateshead International Stadium
Pre-season friendly
Sassco.co.uk 10 Ed Morrison (4), Mark Cresswell, Stephen Lewis (2), Neil Richardson (2), Dave Graham
Newcastle DFC 2
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Mark McDermont, Chris Dixon, Stephen Lewis, Simon Mulvaney, Dave Gourlay (Tim Gillespie), Mark Cresswell, Lee Cresswell, Dave Graham, Neil Richardson, Ed Morrison*

Season review.

A disturbing pre-season for Sassco meant that by the start of the competitive games, the team and squad were in no way set. I was quite smug at the back end of the 2007-2008 Season because we seemed to have a set team with regular players. We also gained a new sponsor in MJS Claims and produced two sets of new shirts, a long sleeve version and short sleeve version.

The July 2007 team. Only four players remained as regulars at the end of the season.However, pre-season was below average. An opening game was played on the excellent artificial turf at Gateshead – it was a 4-4 draw against Whitley Bay, a game where we hurriedly raced into a 3-1 lead just before half time. Craig Charlton scored a hat-trick After this, it was a narrow 3-2 win over Washington Colliery on the much less forgiving turf at Sandhills. This game saw “guest” appearances from Danny Hall and Gash Brazier, but this was worrying because it was quite clear we couldn’t get a regular side out. Then it was back to Shildon AFC, where we received our usual lesson, but did see Jon Wardle get a goal to reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the opening half. A narrow defeat against Blackhall was followed by a poor loss against Lambton. Things were looking foreboding. Players were missing and we had to keep calling on “guest stars”. A thumping win over Monkwearmouth CFC was probably the highlight and this seemed to contain a full side with Dave Graham (hand picked by Mark Middlemiss), who made his debut against Blackhall, filling the centre midfield role. Ed Morrison, our youngest player, also came in for this game.

Andy FarrerBut this all came crashing down with an opening day disaster. By this time, Stephen Lewis, Mickey Donkin, Craig Charlton and Anthony Yates had all left the team. Subsequently, Dean Matthews left and David Staples retired. A new team was slowly forming combined with some veterans from 2005. Brian Marley also became a non-regular. Jon Wardle, luckily not playing for his morning team on that day, came in as the threadbare squad was easily outgunned by one of the Division favourites, Fulwell Blue Bell in the opener. Ironically, we were to play them again, away, a week later. I feared the worst and duly adopted an overly defensive 4-5-1 system with Andy Swinhoe, who was now confirmed as a regular after his bad injury back in the Summer of 2006 limiting his appearances, foraging alone in attack and Tim Gillespie as the holding ultra-defensive midfielder. Three debuts appeared in the game, with Jason Amour making a return from the 2005 season. Also, Anth Pearson did the same. Jamie Wilson, a recommendation from Washington Colliery’s Mickey Walker, was roped in as centre half and Simon Mulvaney, sourced from Mark Middlemiss, came into midfield (both debuts). Being up against it, Sassco sprung into life. A goalless first half was contrasted by Swinhoe striking two breakway goals to put Sassco 2-0 up. Ed Morrison then missed two glaring chances, as tiredness set in and Fulwell fired in two late goals.

Dave GrahamThe 2-2 draw was a huge boost to the team. Fulwell didn’t really drop any more all season until they’d been crowned as Division Champions. The confidence was good for Sassco and, more importantly, confidence in the system. By now, the squad was getting stronger and stronger. The addition of a contingent from Whitley Bay Deaf FC, Andy Reay and Andrew Farrer (both recommended by Whitley Bay’s Darren O’Dowd) saw the team, back to 4-4-2, lose against Mountain Daisy, but nearly grabbing an equaliser as Dixon fired in a late blocked shot from a corner. After this we spent ninety minutes blitzing Usworth 8-2. A full squad saw Dave Graham making his first competitive start (after two friendlies). Andy Reay was firing in the goals, while Swinhoe was calmly added more to his tally from the flanks. This was hampered by an injury to Jason Amour who failed to return to the side.

Yet, a downturn occurred. After a miserable 3-1 away win to the Cavalier, a depleted squad was heavily beaten away in the County Cup (with Mickey Walker and Michael Pearson making appearance)s, before we suffered two disastrous results. Park View came back with a 4-6 win at our place and dumped us out of one of the many cups. And Usworth, who we’d hammered 8-2 in September, secured a 4-1 win.

Simon MulvaneyPressure was mounting and a big game against Premier Town End Farm was in the reckoning. In the event, prior to the game, we all relaxed and realised that we should be here to enjoy events and not get worked up by them. Also, due to lack of numbers, Richard Purvis and the ageing Alan Douglas came in from Whitley Bay Deaf FC for their solitary appearances. Gav Brown also came in as a left winger. The calmer atmosphere saw our first ever win against a Premier team (albeit a weakened one). The 4-1 win over Town End saw another upturn in performances. We narrowly lost 2-1 to a strong Blue House side (conceding a late penalty) with Chris Hodgson making his only appearance and Gav Kershaw back in goal. And then a remarkable 5-5 draw away to Mountain Daisy – a game in which we gave away a 3-1 lead, but seeing Mark Middlemiss have a superb game and David Simpson, playing outfield, scoring an overhead kick without leaving the floor. It was actually a depleted team at the time. Gav Kershaw made a second appearance, while Mickey Walker returned to the fold. We then suffered a 2-1 setback away to a strong Hylton CW team, with another late penalty and also a memorable solitary appearance by John Amouzoudi (and not for footballing reasons).

After this, we hit peak form with an 8-1 destruction of Park View, with Andy Reay unfortunately leaving after this game (to the Northern Alliance), but Mark McDermont coming in as a regular left back after having so many tryouts since Brian Marley left. The other game prior to Christmas was 6-0 away win in a rain soaked pitched to Cauld Lad. Josh Lay and Mark Cresswell (another “veteran” from 2005) both came into the squad. We were all looking forward to a critical clash against an on-form Seaham team, which was inexplicably called off by an unconvincing referee.

McDermont and CresswellChristmas came to early for us. The peak was shattered with a poor away Cup day against Hall Farm. A depleted team saw Leigh Wilcox making his only appearance. After this, we laboured during a 1-0 win against Cambridge, with Gourlay’s late strike saving us. This was followed by humiliation again at Usworth in a tight pitch with an error strewn 4-1 defeat. An expected win over Cavalier was a struggle. 2-1 down at half time, before Cresswell liberated the side with two goals in an eventual 4-2 turnaround. Despite this, the squad was settled at a total of 15 players (including me). From time to time, we called on Anth Pearson when the numbers were short and actually pulling out a squad each week wasn’t really a problem, but consistency was. All the deaf lads had departed by now, but everyone appreciated the crucial role they played in steadying the side when we were lacking in numbers.

Also, at this time, we radically changed the structure of the team. Brian Watson, initially sourced to try and find us a permanent Team Sec. volunteered for the role himself and did superb in taking a great deal of pressure off me in terms of League Meetings, referee confirmations, etc. Mark Muers also volunteered to become the Treasurer and in strict Stalinist style, kept his little black book of who’s paid and who hasn’t. Very effective.

The poor form was levelled out with a superb, however difficult, performance at home to CW. Leading 1-0 then 3-2, the team succumbed to a late goal, but Sassco’s goal came from old fashioned driving at the defence from the wings and players beating opponents. Swinhoe fired in two goals, one whilst on the wing and the other when in attack. Cresswell scored the goal of the game by driving through the heart of the team, beating three players to strike the equaliser at 2-2. Simpson pulled off the save of the match in the last seconds to keep the score at 3-3.

After this, we went on a bit of a hit and miss run of results as most players tend to be on and off. Tim Gillespie and Chris Dixon tended to miss quite a few games, while Mark Middlemiss was rarely seen. Dave Graham was also on and off. We tended to defeat most of the weaker teams; 2-1 away to Park View, with Dixon scoring both goals and 3-1 at home to Cauld Lad (with me as left back all game!), but suffered away to Seaham The George by 3-2 with them scoring a late winner. The highlight was probably a 2-0 home win over the same team two weeks later. It was a superb competent performance with goals either side of the half.

I’d say this was our final highlight of the Season. By this time, Michael Pearson had made a return as a pseudo-regular along with Jamie Wilson (who was last seen in the 4-1 defeat at home to Usworth) as the side, short on numbers, tended to settle down. Our 2-0 win over Seaham was followed with a narrow 2-1 win over Park View in a newly formed Subsidiary Cup. Ed Morrison returned for this one and scored our all important equaliser just prior to half time. After this we suffered a poor 4-2 away defeat against Cambridge in the League. A midweek hammering off Rubiheat (in the Sub Cup) occurred as well as a poor away defeat to Blue House in the League, which effectively ended our hopes of a top four finish.

The Sub Cup put us in against Cauld Lad again and on a fine Saturday afternoon, we walloped them 5-0 with me as left back again, which disturbed the opposing Mickey Donkin quite a bit. The next game (and final game) in the Sub Cup was a 4-0 walloping at Mountain Daisy, a game which summed up our season. Excellent football, shading it in terms of chances, but errors at the back. Two horrendous clangers from Muers and Jamie ended the game for Sassco before the half time whistle.

Jamie WilsonIt was the same for the final day of the Season. A League tie against Hylton CW. I really didn’t expect anything and was happy to have eleven players there. We struggled badly and there were ringers galore in our side and Hylton CW’s. A win would have put us into fourth and on reflection, I was disappointed we didn’t get it. Again, we played some superb football, went 1-0 up with a Dave Gourlay strike. Conceded an easy one in the second, went further behind, before levelling out and seeing Cresswell fire in an excellent equaliser.

To conclude; it was another below par season. We really need to be up there, but lack of a regular line up didn’t help. All the new lads who came in did exceptionally well and were highly rated by anyone who played against them. Lucky for us, none were tapped up as it was common knowledge that our players came from Whitley Bay, Hartlepool, Ashington, Newcastle, Shildon and God knows where else. Certainly shows commitment and as Mickey Pearson said about Sassco, “it’s in the blood.” A bonus to the end of the season was the level of requests we had from players wanting to sign on. The certain return was Stephen Lewis and more will obviously come along. We also managed to get a new sponsor in iKobo.com so we’ll be in blue for next season. Our final game as such was a midweek friendly against Washington Colliery. After being a goal down, we impressed the locals with some scintillating football and probably some of the best goals we’ve seen all season. We also played Redhouse FC, the Champions, a few days later and after several superb opportunities squandered, they scored two in the last five minutes.

Dave Gourlay was voted as our Player of the Season, while Swinhoe topped the goal scoring charts with 20 goals.

So, just like the end of last season, things are looking up. No one seems to have left the team as of this moment, which is in a contrast to last season. On top of that, we’ve managed to obtain a new sponsor in iKobo, a United States based money transfer company. This has led to a new shirt being produced. We have a good programme of friendly games against teams from outside our League and commence our massive pre-season session in June. It’s going to be a long hot Summer.

14th June 2008

Latest News.

Player of the Season Dave Gourlay.
Leading Goalscorer, Andy Swinhoe.

The votes have come in and David Gourlay is Player of the Season again with 45% of the vote (nominated 10 times). Dave Graham came in a close second with 36% from 8 nominations. 22 people voted and their choice is shown below. Dave Gourlay won it last season with 35% followed by Brian Marley on 24%.

Andy Swinhoe is our Leading Goalscorer this season. We also count the goals in Pre-season games as well. All the details of goalscorers and appearances since our start on the 8th July 2007 are available at the bottom of the fixtures page.

Trophies will be arranged for both Dave Gourlay and Andy Swinhoe.

Player of the Season Final Result
Dave Gourlay
Dave Graham
Dave Simpson
Chris Dixon
Simon Mulvaney
Man of the Match Awards Final Result
Player Number of Awards
David Gourlay
David Graham
Mark Cresswell
Chris Dixon
Marc McDermont
Dave Simpson
Jamie Wilson
Edward Morrison
Andy Swinhoe
Mark Middlemiss
Andy Reay
Tim Gillespie
Andrew Farrer
Jon Wardle
Mark Muers
Player of the Season Voting Details
Player Voted for
Dave Simpson Dave Graham
Mark Muers Dave Graham
Chris Dixon Dave Gourlay
Mark Cresswell Simon Mulvaney
Marc McDermont Dave Gourlay
Andy Swinhoe Dave Graham
Josh Lay Dave Graham
Tim Gillespie Dave Simpson
Dave Gourlay Dave Graham
Jamie Wilson Dave Gourlay
Dave Graham Chris Dixon
Simon Mulvaney Dave Gourlay
Andy Reay Dave Gourlay
Andy Farrer Dave Gourlay
Gavin Brown Dave Gourlay
Ed Morrison Dave Gourlay
Michael Pearson Dave Graham
Davinder Sangha Dave Gourlay
Gavin Kershaw Dave Graham
Anthony Pearson Dave Simpson
Mark Middlemiss Dave Graham
Brian Watson Dave Gourlay

17th May 2008

Redhouse FC 2 Sassco.co.uk 0.

Two goals in the last five minutes avoids the dreaded toss of a coin decider.

Grant Foster and Neil Richardson appealing to the referee.

Our regular Cup game against the newly crowned Champions, Redhouse FC. I initiated it last season as wind up telling the Catfish, that considering he won bugger all at the end of 2007, he’d have the chance in the Cup game we had arranged at the end of last season. In that game we lost 5-2, but Catfish was, and still is, haunted by the fact that Emu and Donkin grabbed our goals, and that Tommy Bell was tackled twice and outpaced by me during the game. Everyone’s forgot that Bell scored two goals and only remembers his humiliation.

We were short (again) for this one. Like last season, I wasn’t too bothered and expected to start. However, Cressy (Big Cressy) arrived earlier than expected so I was on the bench. We were missing Si Mulvaney, Chris Dixon, Dave Graham, Tim Gillespie, Michael Pearson and Mark Cresswell for this one, so it wasn’t going to be easy at all. Even the normal optimistic Emu said I had to come on once we were 4-0 down. Jamie was in, with cap in hand after Emu had Emued him on Wednesday. He sneaked into the changing rooms and did look at anyone directly for the duration we were taking the piss out of him.

Dean Wardle, Swinhoe, Lewis and Gourlay.

We actually kept it tight. The midfield quartet of Gourlay, McConville, Nellie and Cressy did really well, considering that they’d barely played together. The highlight of the game was a superb performance by our back three of Ed, Muers and Jamie. I can’t really add Macca to that because he had a clanger of a game. Even Spong was outwitting him in the first half and he rarely remained goalside and barely made a successful pass. His heading was good though as he nodded clear on many occasions. Simma was a legend as always and made some excellent grabs and saves during the first half. Criminally, we didn’t take our chances. Lewis has a scorcher of a chance (shown on the video) and Swinhoe had a couple of good ones. Nellie had a superb long range strike near the end of the half that we all thought went in. It probably did considering the crap way we put the nets up. Catfish kept Tommy Bell off to the sidelines most of the game due to rumours that I was likely to come on as well. Whenever I bent over to tie my shoe laces, they kept hauling Bell off in the roll on, roll off sub situation. Nelly spent this half (and the next) moaning.

John Hunt and Tommy Bell looked dishevelled. Swinhoe with Gash,

Half time talk was to keep the same and that we shouldn’t ruin the second half. We kept to it, but late on, as Redhouse FC were gaining more and more of the ball, they scored. Now, before anyone waffles on, it wasn’t my fault. Dave Gourlay had been poleaxed by Iggy with five minutes remaining and had to come off. I came on for him, but the goal came from a quick one two on our right hand side. I think Mini Middlemiss finished it off. Disaster really and very disappointing. As we pressed, John Butler, who’d caused problems all game, fired in the second. Catfish was nervously pacing on the sidelines and had his axe sharpened with Grant and Spong being the main to fall to his wrath until the goals went in. Also, unknown to him, I decided on a coin toss to decide the winner (just like they did in the Euro ’68 Semi Final). I really was desperate to see Gourlay and Grant in the middle of the field deciding head or tails.

I actually got quite a bit frustrated in the game and was admonished by Swinhoe in the changing rooms for not giving encouragement. He was mistaken. I didn’t really complain about any of the clear cut missed chances and gave encouragement and joked about it until the fourth missed chance where I slammed my Lucozade bottle on the floor where it remains embedded to this day.

That’s it then for this season. Technically, the last two games will be classed as 2008-2009 games according to our records, but it was a good way to end the season. I’m sure Redhouse FC, The Champions, will be marginally surprised at our performance with a bit of depleted side and had we put the chances away when 0-0, it could have been a different outcome. I personally am very happy by still feeling disappointed about not getting anything (which is a good sign). I’m sure even Catfish is considering a loan deal to take Emu over to the Dark Side next season. I did see him scribbling away in his little black book looking for potential players to grab like he always does.

Downhill Complex
AGUK Challenge Trophy
Redhouse FC 2
Sassco.co.uk 0
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson, Marc McDermont, Mark Muers,
Jamie Wilson, Ed Morrison, Lee Cresswell, Neil Richardson, Dave Gourlay* (Davinder Sangha), Paul McConville, Stephen Lewis, Andy Swinhoe.

16th May 2008

Reay, Farrer, Douglas and Purvis win a National Cup.

Whitley Bay, winners of the National Deaf League Cup.

Andy Farrer, Andy Reay, Alan Douglas and Richard Purvis, all who played for us this past season have won a National Cup within the Deaf League. Great achievement. Pictures are located below.

Andy Farrer heads the ball away. Andy Reay on the ball.
Reay celebrates with team mates at the final whistle. WBDFC 2 Thames Valley 1.

15th May 2008

Latest News.

New sponsor: iKobo.com.

Delighted to announce that the new sponsor has been confirmed. It was quick one week turnaround from initial contact to the actual agreement.

iKobo was a company used by myself for making payments overseas for the equipment we tend to get from India, Pakistan and China. Normally it’s a costly and difficult process in using Western Union or an expensive bank transfer.

iKobo is the easiest method I’ve used, so I’m delighted they’ve agreed to sponsor us for the 2008 – 2009 season. More information can be found on their website, iKobo.com which is now heavily linked from this website.

The deal involves heavy promotion on our website with adverts and links as you can see above.

This also means that we’ll be getting a new shirt with the new sponsors logo on. As you can see, Emu is modelling the new Adidas shirt for us (as he always does). The shirts will be numbered in the same manner as the previous Milltech and MJS shirts. We will have around 11 long sleeve shirts and around 6 short sleeve ones. It will be white shorts and blue socks. These, hopefully should be printed and ready for our friendly on the 22nd June.

The white short sleeve shirt will be classed as our away tops and will also have the iKobo logo printed over the existing one. We should also be producing some standard match balls as well based on the iKobo logo.

14th May 2008

Washington Colliery 3 Sassco.co.uk 5.

Scintillating football for a change.

Cresswell scored the penalty equaliser.

Not many wisecracks or innuendo in the report today about our game. Just a bit too much football this past week for it.

After about thirty seconds, I thought we were in for a bit of an arse kicking away to Washington Colliery in our regular pre-season event. We looked like a bunch of skip rats, hastily put together and struggling in all areas. Our multi-million pound signing, Tony Burnhope, failed to show, but apart from that we were almost full strength. Pearson, Tim and Middlemiss weren’t there and Jamie was playing for the opponents.

Stephen Lewis was making his first appearance in a Sassco 11-a-side shirt since our chaotic pre-season last Summer. As Tony wasn’t there, he went straight in up front alongside Swinhoe. This season it’s more of an advanced role for him.

Dave Graham strikes a free-kick.

Within minutes we were 1-0 down. A bit dubious. Most thought it was off side, but we weren’t goalside and the referee didn’t really look too confident. So, a kick up the arse duly delivered as we went on to produce some of our most breathtaking football all season. Simple passing and possession was the order of the day. Dave Graham was felled in the box and Cresswell rammed home the penalty. We were back on even keel. Then, Emu sauntered up the field, took a few touches and shattered the cross bar as the ball hit the line and then came out. The returning ball was nodded home by Cresswell. About a few minutes later, after some more superb stuff, Swinhoe volleyed home the goal of the first half.

The only bad point of the half was Dave Graham being Mortal Kombat style finished off by Mark Wallis just prior to the half ending so we weren’t too pleased. The injury doesn’t look too good at all.

Second half saw a few odd flourishes here and there but nothing like the first. By this time, Gav Kershaw replaced Simma in goal. They clawed one back after some comedy defending, but again, Emu rolled his ample weight up the field and struck another long distance shot which equalled Swinhoe’s superb effort. This one went straight in. But at 4-2 we let them back in again. Poor marking (probably tiredness and laziness) saw it narrowed to 4-3.

Swinhoe, Graham, Lewis in action against Jamie.

But then Emu, yes, action packed Emu, took a ball which went out of their area in a corner kick, lashed it back in and saw Lewis get on to the end of it. Emu had an eventful game. His defending was truly shite. I’ve seen corpses with more life than him in some of his movement. And when he did move he spent most of the time heading clear the crap slices he made a few seconds earlier. A few comedy moments. Macca made an arse of himself by keeling over with no challenge. He also then said that he’s been up and down the field all day. True, he goes up the field, loses the ball and then has to hurtle back to rectify his cock up. Cressy got booted around a bit. Dave Gourlay had a tete-a-tete with one of their chaps. Nothing much else really.

Afterwards, a good few of us enjoyed Washington’s hospitality and to add another nail in the coffin, won the music quiz they had on. As one of theirs said, “You beat our team and now take our money.” However, Emu and Cressy decided to go on their own and only managed third place.

Albany Park
Pre-season friendly
Washington Colliery FC 3
Sassco.co.uk 5 Mark Cresswell 2 (1 pen), Mark Muers, Andy Swinhoe, Stephen Lewis
Sassco.co.uk: Dave Simpson (Gavin Kershaw), Marc McDermont, Mark Muers,
Chris Dixon, Ed Morrison, Dave Graham (Neil Richardson), Dave Gourlay, Simon Mulvaney, Mark Cresswell, Stephen Lewis, Andy Swinhoe.

10th May 2008

Hylton CW 2 Sassco.co.uk 2.

Both teams “ring” in the changes.

A very tired end of season run in. We were drastically short. The missing list was quite scary:

  • Tim Gillespie
  • Anth Pearson
  • Jamie Wilson
  • Simon Mulvaney
  • Dave Graham
  • Michael Pearson

So, basically everyone! I roped in Gav Kershaw and had Simma outfield. Mickey Pearson cried off around an hour before kick off and that was exceptionally frustrating. When I ask someone to play football, I really expect them there and other reasons should not be coming into it. Considering we had only eleven made it even more bad for the team.

However, he did give Ed Morrison a lift there and was there for the opening half to give some moral support (and to watch an expected hammering). It was only Dave Gourlay’s resourcefulness which led to Sassco getting a player who’d just been sleeping in a skip. Cold water splashed in the face did the trick. Muers, also originally a missing player, turned up before kick off as we had twelve players including me. Dave Graham and Mickey Walker along with Bri Marley and Jon Wardle were all unavailable.

I know we had problems, but so did the draw specialists, Hylton CW. It was ringers galore as both teams were struggling in the last day. The heat was quite intense, but ironically we seemed to cope amazingly well. We were spraying the ball about well and definitely played the better football throughout the game. We had the majority of chances in the first half and saw two of them from Swinhoe go amiss. Near the end of the half, Dave Gourlay broke free inside the box and curled a superb shot to make it 1-0. It was tad bit disputed, because most saw that the ball went out of play, but our linesman didn’t give it because he wasn’t 100%. Hylton CW weren’t too pleased about it, but then again, I did give the okay for their superstars to be on the field of play, so stop whinging.

We really dominated in the opening half which made it more the frustrating when we we conceded one early in the second. It was poor marking which irritated me as the referee failed to give offside. I’ve told the team to constantly remain goalside. It was getting worse when we went 2-1 down with a superb looping shot which went over Gav Kershaw.

We came back from this and weathered a brief bit of pressure. Swinhoe also shaved the post in one of our many attacks.

Changes had to be made. I took our Hendonite off, pushed Macca into the middle with Gourlay and put the Piltdown Man on the right. Instantly we scored to make it 2-2. A superb strike from Cresswell. Swinhoe should have made it 3-2 with around four minutes remaining, but lack of composure saw him allow the goalkeeper to smother it.

A disorganised end to the season, but surprisingly some excellent football on show despite the hastily put together side. Season’s ended, but we will be having a busy programme of friendlies lined up. I’m one for Summer Football and will be taking advantage of the excellent weather.

For some weird reason, they voted Macca as their Man-of-the-match. Baffles me how. He could barely pass from A to B let alone C. He told me that they were saying, “He’s torturing us,” when I pointed out that it was actually our lot who were saying that about him.

Billy Hard Sports Complex
League Division 1
Hylton CW 2
Sassco.co.uk 2 Dave Gourlay, Mark Cresswell
Sassco.co.uk: Gavin Kershaw, Dave Simpson,
Chris Dixon, Mark Muers, Ed Morrison, Davinder Sangha, Dave Gourlay, Mark McDermont*, Mark Cresswell, Andy Swinhoe.