Belle Vue Park
Ground Number: 275
Saturday 11th May 2013
Consett 2-2 Spennymoor Town
Northern League - Division 1
As I faced a long trip to Sunderland to complete the 92 league grounds, I decided to stay overnight to make the drive a bit more tolerable. I had decided to tie it in with a game, and with options being very limited at this late stage in the season, I decided to go down to step 5 and the Northern League. The bonus was this would be one of the last matches at Consett's Belle Vue Park ground, as they were moving at the end of the season. It would also give me a chance to see FA Vase winners Spennymoor Town again, after I had seen their big game against Darlington back in February.
I left a bit later than intended, after sleeping through my alarm, leaving about an hour later than intended at 8.50. My sat nav decided to send me through Aylesbury and apart from a bit of traffic around the country roads there, it was a good journey. I got to the ground at 1.20 and parked up and walked the 15 minutes into town. During the journey up, the charger had not been in my phone properly and I discovered I only had around 30% battery, something that would prove to be a problem for the rest of the day.
I checked out a couple of shops for some old games bargains, but there was nothing worth buying. I did get some cherry cakes from a local food bargain shop though before going to a pub, the Grey Horse for a couple of pre match drinks. I had a pint of Weston's Traditional Scrumpy, before having a bottle of Sandford Orchards Fanny's Bramble for the bargain price of £1.50 for a big bottle, very nice it was too. By this time it was half an hour before kick off, so I made my way to the ground, arriving about 2.45. I was annoyed to find they had sold out of programmes, and so had to pick up an old issue, which at least had the same cover as today's one. I took some pictures of the ground before getting a pie and chips for £2.50 from the tea bar.
Spennymoor were without a keeper due to their number one choice being in hospital as his wife was having a baby, and the backup was away on holiday. That meant that defender Carl Beasley wore the number one jersey for the game. Spennymoor were very poor first half and Consett deservedly took the lead on 34 minutes when Aristote Guerin-Lokinga drilled a shot into the bottom right hand corner. And the lead was doubled soon after as the same player capitalised on a defensive mix up to get his, and his teams second. The vase winners and 2nd placed visitors looking a shadow of the side that they should have been.
At half time I decided to nip out to a cash machine as I needed some money to pay for my B&B. Also I picked up 3 500ml bottles of diet Irn Bru for a quid at the food bargain shop. After making my way into town again and back to the ground I just missed Spennymoor getting a goal back on 55 minutes through Chris Mason's deflected shot. The same player scored again with an excellent header to make it all square. It had been a good game and a much improved second half performance from the visitors. The home support had been good as well, vocally backing their team for much of the game.
I then drove straight to Whitley Bay, where my B&B was, after a not so fun journey though Gateshead's dodgy and unpleasant road system. Luckily Whitley Bay was a bit more car friendly, with free street parking right outside where I was staying. And it was only minutes from the town centre too. Such a pleasant change from most towns that seem to despise the motorist, with expensive parking, restrictions galore and unused bus lanes (like the pathetic 'no car lane' that I would encounter on my way home from Sunderland tomorrow)
My B&B looked a bit gloomy when I was walking along the corridors to my room, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was en suite, for the bargain price of £18 per night. At most I was expecting a sink to pee (oops I mean wash!) in at night, so it was a nice surprise. There was also a TV to watch the FA Cup Final on, and most important of all for me at the time, a place to plug my phone into charge. If you want spotlessly clean and luxuriously furnished, this probably isn't the place for you, but if you are happy with reasonably clean and comfortable with everything you need then the Ocean Inn is a good choice. After watching Wigan's brilliant 1-0 win over Man City in the Cup Final and having a shower at half time, it was 7.30 and with my phone battery at only 40%, I still made my way out. I went to the Briar Dene pub in Whitley Bay which was in my CAMRA app as a good cider pub. But it was a disappointment as they only had a Weston's cider that I had already tried, they stopped serving food just before I arrived. And I couldn't find a plug to charge my phone with.
It was at that point that I decided to get a Metro tram into Byker, where I knew of a pub that was good on the cider front. By the time I got to the station it was 9pm and with my phone battery almost dead I decided to turn it off for the journey as I had no clue where the pub was at the other end. I got to the other end just before 9.30 and with the last tram leaving at 11.15, time was not really on my side. I still had time for a couple of pints though, namely Roger's Dry Cider and a Farmhouse Perry. It was a really good pub called The Cumberland Arms, and as well as good drink, they had some live music and vitally, a plug for me to put my phone charger in.
I left at 10.45 and despite promising myself that I would try and have something decent to eat on this trip, I reverted to the easy option and got some KFC and chips as I wasn't sure how much time I had left to get back to the station. After the journey home, and some more chips at the other end, I got back to my room at 11.45. After plugging my phone in and checking Facebook etc, I watched a bit of TV before falling asleep at around half midnight.
BELLE VUE PARK will soon be no longer, but it is a fairly unique non league ground. It has 3 sides grass banking with hard standing in front. The other side is where the main stand is. This has terracing at the front, with a raised seating section at the back and though it looks quite dated is interesting in it's design.
There is a pretty standard bar underneath this, which serves the usual range of drinks that you would expect in a club house. The tea bar has a good range of food, taste pretty average but at excellent prices. And they sell a range of club merchandise and back issues of programmes at a table just inside the turnstile.