My Matchday - 141 Meadow Park

Sunderland RCA 3v4 Seaham Red Star
Pre-Season friendly
28th July 2007
att.50 odd

Formed in 1961, when the original players of Ryhope Youth Club reached 18 they decided to stay on and form a senior side, initially they played all games away until finding a home at Colliery Welfare, changing their name to Ryhope Community, the club had immediate success playing in local leagues within the Seaham area, winning many titles and cup competitions.
Their first step on the football latter came in 1978 when they gained admission into the Northern Alliance League, though the club were desperate to find a ground after playing on a local school field, the clubs ambitions were finally granted thanks to backing from Tyne & Wear Council and the Sports Council to build Meadow Park on unused derelict land.
Founder members of the newly formed Northern League Second Division in 1982, the club finished runners-up the following season and enjoyed a brief spell in the top division until they were relegated in 1988; the club had a name change in 1999 with the amalgamation with Wearside League club Kennek Roker, thus becoming Kennek Ryhope Community Association, that was until last season when the club added the towns name, becoming Sunderland Ryhope Community Association F.C.
It looked likely that it was going to be another football free Saturday for myself, it was a busy day in the Smudger household and with the breadknife needing use of the car, I give up on the hope of getting a footie fix before I went on holiday, however after a review of the fixtures and a check on the bus times website, (even though it meant entering mackemland, I could just keep me gob shut!) I realised the possibility of getting to a game in just over an hour, so I caught an express bus to Sunderland and then a connection to Ryhope, thus meaning I could tick off Sunderland RCA off my Northern League list.
Being a stranger in a strange land I told the bus driver where I was going and asked him to let me know when it was my stop, this he thankfully done and then pointed me in the right direction but warned me it was “a canny walk” so after walking up a long and winding road and back again I eventually found the entrance, which is tucked inside a private housing estate and is less than a 2 minute walk away from the bus stop, so thanks unhelpful local bus driver, I knew I should have kept me gob shut. ;-)
The first impression of Meadow Park is that there’s no doubting which town you are in, as everything is decorated red and white, after entering the ground from behind the goal you notice the slope of the pitch running towards you from the top goal, where in the background is the graveyard from the local church, these two ends as well as the dugouts and car park side of the ground are open standing using a pathway and lawn areas.
The main stand is the rather neat looking ‘Baines Stand’ named after one of the clubs life presidents Ray, who has been involved with the club since the 1970s, this has five rows of red benches with white pin stripes, the back wall has red and white panels and red interior roof, neighbouring the stand is a half sheltered standing area (the other half of the roof is missing) and to the other side is the changing rooms, football bog and the clubhouse, which served a refreshing cool can of Stones Bitter which I was in need of after working up a thirst, after spending 20 minutes looking for the grounds entrance.
Ryhope CA like their visitors for the afternoon Seaham Red Star wear the Sunderland strip as the club colours, this was a proper Wearside derby with the two clubs only a mile and a half apart. Seaham wearing a changed strip of all blue showed the good form from where they left off last season, going in at half time with a comfy two goal lead with a header from Jennings and a good 20 yard strike from Lumsden and looked likely to build on their lead after the break, but the game swung in favour of the home side in a 7 minute spell midway through the second period, with a soft foul followed by an even clumsier one allowing Crew to score two penalties which he blasted past the keeper with confidence, minutes later he completed his hat trick latching on to low cross to put Ryhope 3-2 up. The game looked to be heading towards the proverbial game of two halves until two late strikes from Byrne and then a well taking effort from Newby put Star 4-3 ahead, their was just enough time for Crew to miss a sitter with literally the last kick of the game which would have giving the hosts a well deserved draw.
For a friendly match it was very competitive and thoroughly entertaining, Ryhope CA have struggled over the last few seasons, but there were one or two signs of maybe some progress ahead, while Seaham won’t have any trouble scoring goals this campaign but it’s conceding goals which may be their problem, although I do expect them to finish in the top six.
The bus trip was only £4.20 with a Super-saver-thingy, it was only £2 admission including programme team sheet and raffle, and the Stones went down great guns at £1.30, so not a bad day out for seven and a half quid, me thinks I won’t get a cheaper entertaining matchday in 2007-08.
Ground no.141 Meadow Park – Matchday web album.(18 pictures)

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