First Team Star
Sep 10, 2019, 11:55 PM
Saturday 7th September 2019 (ko 1500)
Re: [ciderjon] Where did you go / Where are you going : 2019/20 RUGBY UNION
at Grange House Field, Morpeth
RFU Northern Division North Premier (Level Five)
Morpeth 12 Carlisle 36 (ht 7-12)
Admission - £5.00 inc 48 page programme
Attendance - 250 (estimate)
This opening day of the campaign meeting between two teams promoted as champions of their respective level six divisions looked interesting enough to tempt me to make the long trip up to Northumberland. It is often a difficult step up to make - two teams were immediately relegated back whence they came last season - so both would see this as a great chance to get off to a positive start. I saw the play off between level six runners up at the end of last season, when Blackburn defeated Scarborough, and coupled with the result here, it suggests last season’s North One West was stronger than North One East.
Morpeth’s railway station is inconveniently located on the edge of town, so it was something of a no brainer to travel up from Newcastle by bus, express services running via the A1 four times an hour to Morpeth’s town centre bus station. A pre match call at the GBG listed JDW Electrical Wizard was followed by a pleasant stroll alongside the River Wansbeck to reach the ground, whilst after the game there was time for a quick call at the Tap and Spile, just around the corner from the bus station. Whichever way you went, it was no more than a fifteen minute walk from town centre to ground, far easier to reach for public transport users than the middle of nowhere location of the town’s football ground.
Off field facilities at Grange House Field are concentrated in three separate buildings behind the posts. The first contains the changing rooms, the second is the headquarters of the town’s athletics club, whilst beyond that is an impressive modern clubhouse. Upstairs, which comes complete with a viewing balcony, was the preserve of the match sponsors, but a large room was available downstairs, and there are patio tables outside. Two hand pumps in use at the bar, though Tetley’s Cask and Black Sheep was hardly the most inspiring choice. Coffee could be had from a drinks machine, whilst tea and hot food was available from the kitchen hatch, which opened for business before kick off once the pre match meal was out of the way. I had to ask to obtain a programme in the clubhouse - they only came round at pitch side to charge admission once the game was well under way.
The ground enjoys a lovely setting, but it is one to save for good weather as there is no cover. Two pitches stand side by side, and the club also has access to a pitch just the other side of the river. The second pitch, directly outside the clubhouse and unused today, is floodlit and was roped off along one side. The main pitch, directly outside the changing rooms, is also roped off where the pitches stand alongside each other, and is open at the far end. However, the near end and the south side are railed off with sturdy wooden barriers, and there is hard standing along the side, where dug outs are also located. A manually operated scoreboard is used and located behind the posts, whilst perhaps the best feature of the ground is away to the north, where the land rises sharply beyond the second pitch into a wooded hillside that provides a stunning backdrop.
After Carlisle hit the post with an early penalty attempt, it is Morpeth who score the first try, and they keep their lead until the half hour mark. Carlisle go ahead for the first time in the dying seconds of the first half, but after the break the visitors dominate, with Morpeth’s indiscipline in defence seeing them hammered by an 11-2 second half penalty count against them. Carlisle run in four second half tries at fairly regular intervals, with Morpeth grabbing a consolation right at the death, but the final try count of 6-2 in the visitor’s favour was probably a fair reflection of how the game went.
(This post was edited by AndrewG on Sep 10, 2019, 11:57 PM)