Last competitive game was 6 years, 9 months, and 19 days ago.

Yes, a total of, approximately, 2484 days, 17 hours and 30 minutes had lapsed since Sassco played it’s last competitive game under me (an 8-0 defeat). So it was refreshing to be in a competitive league again, despite dozens of friendly games throughout the years since 2010. This time it was a compact Over 35’s league played on Durham FA’s 3G facility. No need for nets, no avoiding dog turds and car parts on Downhill pitch and no worrying if Ken Street wasn’t going to show.

The games were played in 50 minute slots, which was ideal for our advancing age. The team and the positions were formed on Facebook and Messenger. Most hadn’t played together. Three players were there I’d never seen before, but the core team from Sassco was myself, Dixon, Macca and Mark Middlemiss. The rest comprised of Sean Burns, Michael Stanness and Paul Whelam; all sourced by McDermont, while the others, Dan Smith and Neil Barker came from the Saturday morning. The remaining, and in midfield, were James Collinson and Gareth Greener, both accomplished players.

We did okay. Macca was in goal, wearing his homeless look, grey sweatpants, so it was tempting to go a 9-1 formation, but it was the usual 4-4-2 defending deep to avoid four fat lads running back towards goal in a line. However, when Macca was static watching a ball sail over to the other side of the goal, it could have gone awry. We were 1-0 down, despite spending a lot of time in their half, with no major attacks, apart from Dan Smith getting snipered. Eventually, a ball from the right saw Barker head in from close range and we were back in it.

Later on in the game, we had a few scrambles at our end, but nothing worrying. At the other end, Mark Middlemiss nearly scored, but saw his shot looping over the bar. Back in defence, we were all solid. Whelam and Stanness were comfortable and Dixon’s iron balls saw off a goal bound shot. Gareth Greener and Collinson were strong in the middle, and Marky’s running on the flanks nearly put both Burns and Barker in on a few occasions.

1-1 was a fair result. We only have 11 men (out of choice) so we worked hard for it against a larger squad, with some good players and a decent goalkeeper (unlike us).